Renaissance’s Easter Dress

 

I finished it a while back, but she wore it for our Easter church service at home, and I finally remembered to snap a couple of pictures of her.

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I’ve had this pattern earmarked for a couple of years for her.  I’d purchased some great dresses from Lands End about four years ago for Emily, and then they were handed down to Ren, and now to Rachel, and they are such a great silhouette that I started keeping an eye out for a comparable pattern somewhere out there in Sewing Land.  It appeared one day in the form of Butterick 6450–a bloused bodice with an elastic waist, short sleeves, and a swingy skirt.  It works really great for a growing girl.

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This is View C, sewn up in a cotton lawn from Miss Matatabi.  I underlined the bodice with white cotton voile for modesty, and attached the same fabric as a lining beneath the skirt.  (Note to self: Don’t mix and match underlining the bodice with a lining for the skirt in this pattern in the future–it got messy when it came to attaching the zipper versus the encased elastic waistband.  Pick one method of under/lining and go with it for both the bodice and the skirt.)  I did not do the gathering on the sleeves, and I was surprised that I ended up using the full length of the View C skirt.

The skirt is seamed down the center front and back on the bias, which is something that I’d like to avoid in the future because I want to sew up a couple iterations of this in gingham prints, but that bias seam will cause all sorts of headaches with a gingham. I know it will be easy enough to throw a different skirt onto the bodice in the future, but sigh…more thinking ahead.  It worked well enough with this abstract print, and the skirt has turned out really well and fluttery without the danger of flipping up in a wind gust, à la a circle skirt.

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Construction was easy, with no weird head-scratching moments.  I like bias binding on my edges, so I really love that bound neckline–makes me so pleased everytime I see it!  The instructions on how to hem the skirt were really good and gave a nice finish.  The zipper instructions were a mess and I ended up just hacking the stupid thing in there, but that’s just because I am missing the gene that lets me understand how to put a zipper into anything.  Good enough.

I’m planning to sew up this pattern, with a few design changes, at least two more times this year.  It’s a great dress!

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Florabelle Hexie Stripe Quilt for Blank Quilting

It’s an odd-numbered month (and an odd month, in all honesty…), which meant some fabric headed my way from Blank Quilting.  This month’s fabric collection for me was the absolutely gorgeous Florabelle collection, which is a seven piece (plus panel) collection designed by Color Pop Studio.  I’d had my eye on it since I noticed it’d be going out in March, and I was so pleased when it showed up on my doorstep!

 

Blank Quilting also included one-yard cuts of four colors of their Jot Dot prints, and a couple of weeks later a box arrived from Air-Lite Manufacturing, containing a twin-sized poly-cotton batting and a swatch card for their four different types of batting.  (I really want to give their cotton double-loft a try in the future! It feels ah-mazing.)

I decided to sew this all up with the Hexie Stripes pattern by Suzy Quilts, adding two borders of Jot Dot to increase its size.  I’d not used a quilting ruler that wasn’t squared-edged before, and I ended up slicing off the tip of one of my fingers just a few cuts into using my awesome new triangle ruler!  Goodness.  It wasn’t a horrific injury, but it did take about a week before I could do anything without aggravating the gauze-wrapped injury.  I re-embarked upon the quilt’s construction and made slow, but steady, progress just as news broke of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Washington State.  I upped my efforts just in case we ended up with some sort of government lockdown order, and got it into the mail to the quilter as fast as I could.

Ashley of Hen House Quilting got it quilted up and back into the mail right before the Stay Home – Stay Healthy Proclamation was put into effect, so yay, it got back to me in its quilted glory in time to finish it up before the end of the month! THIS QUILT HAS SUCH GREAT STORIES ALREADY.

And because we’re on lockdown I was rather limited with my photography locations, so these photos were taken by my daughter’s high school because it was pretty enough and there were no people around.  (We all have to make sacrifices, my friends.)

The quilt itself is a nice, warm quilt, thanks to that poly-cotton batting.  My cat, Quesnel, has deemed it a good quilt and spent the afternoon in my lap.  Many memes were created as a result, which I’m sharing because they make me laugh:

Thank you, Blank Quilting, for the opportunity to work with such a pretty collection!  It’s made such a pretty quilt!  (I do have plans to turn the panel into a wall hanging for my craft room, but it got pushed to the side with all the craziness that was March!)

At the End of Week #2 of COVID-19 School Closures

We are now 1/3 of the way through the initial school closures here in Washington State, and are now enjoying the escalated “Stay Home” measures that were announced this week by the governor, dictating that we not leave our houses unless there’s an essential need (groceries, medical, etc.).

The kids are doing really great with their online learning, and I actually learned that their school district is one of TWO that made the immediate jump to online learning for the school closures.  Cue the “I’m so glad we moved into this particular house” gratitude.  We get to walk down to the bus stop each morning to pick up the school lunch deliveries (practicing safe social distancing of course), and I get to have a quick chat with some of my neighborhood mom friends, so we don’t feel completely socially isolated.  It’s not that bad, actually.

Crafting-wise, I basically just sewed up medical masks this week.  Not exciting at all, and a little anger-inducing because all I can think about while I’m sewing these up is how frustrating it is that we don’t have enough medical supplies on-hand for something of this nature, despite the fact that scientists have been warning us for years that we were historically due for a pandemic of some sort.  And then my thoughts wander down more angry roads, and I just end up steaming mad about lots of things.  So…no, I don’t like making medical masks AT ALL.  BUT, I have friends who work in the medical field and one of them texted yesterday asking if I had made any because her hospital really needs some, so I drove the twenty I’d made over to her house and left them on her doorstep.  I guess I’ll need to make more, but I need a break before I go back to them.

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I’m going to use my “break from the masks” to attach the binding to my March Blank Quilting project, which just arrived back from the quilter this week; and I’m starting to work with the “Best Friends Farm” fabric that Jaftex/Henry Glass Fabrics sent me as a bonus for April; and I did my part to support a small business by buying up some yardage of an absolutely gorgeous floral print from Style Maker Fabrics that I’m hoping to turn into a dress by Easter.

 

So, because goals are my self-love love language, I’ll end this with a “Goals for the Next Week” list:

  • Finish the Florabelle Hexie Stripes quilt.  Photograph it and share it online.
  • Finish piecing the individual blocks for the Best Friends Farm quilt.
  • Finish the muslin for my Blue Floral Easter dress.
  • Photograph and share the dress I finished for Renaissance a couple of weeks ago.
  • Move forward in some meaningful way with my sewing pattern database/spreadsheet.  The plan, pre-COVID-19, was to have it completed by the end of the next week or so, but things got way too crazy to keep up with it, so it’s a minor project that’s limping along at the moment.  I’ll worry about it more once things calm down in the future.
The week after next is Spring Break, which means there will be no online learning and schoolwork to keep the kids entertained throughout the day, AND we’ll still be mandated to stay home, so…I guess I should come up with some ideas for that as well.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, Week #1 of Covid-19 School Closures

I am not very uplifting today.

And I wrote a blog post detailing all the reasons as to why I’m in a terrible mood, but then I decided to delete it all.  You don’t need to read about my bad day or listen to my anxieties.  That’s not going to really help anyone here.

What I think is important about today is granting permission to the bad days to exist.

Which is not the same as granting bad days permission to ruin things later.  And it’s not  granting myself permission to feel like a failure because an unpleasant situation felt unpleasant.  It’s also not granting myself permission to use a bad day to justify being rude or mean to someone else.

Because bad days don’t take time off because a shiny new germ is tap-dancing its way across the globe.

If it’s not acceptable behavior when things are going well, then it’s not acceptable behavior when things are going bad, either.

The bad days are going to still happen, even amongst all this idyllic staying at home and having my family gathered around me all close.

And I still get to decide how I’m going to act and react, in spite of the anxiety I may have or the rudeness I may see other people using and justifying.  Turbulent times do not condone turbulent tempers.

The novelty of the situation is wearing off, as evidenced by the short words people have had with each other today.  As evidenced by the rumors that are going around.  It felt like conversations today, both online and in-person, have the slightest whiff of panic about them.  Which I guess is to be expected…but I’m not going to add to it.  I’m in charge of that decision.

I’m going to finish watching a movie, I’m going to say my prayers, and I’m going to get a good night’s sleep.

And then I’m going to wake up tomorrow and do the things that I know make for a good day.  And hopefully it is a good day.  We shall see…

…I wish you a good night’s sleep and very good day tomorrow. Because tomorrow has the potential to be a very, very good day.

Wednesday, Week #1 of Covid-19 School Closure

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The kids gathered around the dining room table for their first formal day of “online learning” this morning.  The girls were left to their own devices (and I only had to reprimand one of them during the course of the day for goofing off before they were done with their schoolwork) and I had Nathaniel work on his stuff in my craft room so I could keep an eye on him, which was needed a few times.

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00100sportrait_00100_burst20200318095105345_coverBecause I was waiting to see if I’d get a package from Jaftex today, I didn’t want to start cutting out a dress or anything big, so I whipped up a couple of hair scarves from a pattern I bought when I went to Sew Expo a couple of weeks ago.  (And I have no idea why my hair looks so short in that photo, but it’s definitely making me think that a chop-off would look super cute!)

The kids were all pretty much done with their work by the time the “school bus lunch” alarm went off at 10:35am.  Our district is making sure all the kids eat during this break by delivering breakfasts and lunches via the bus routes, so we headed over to the bus stop and the kids were happy to say hi to their bus driver when she came ’round.

While we were waiting for the lunches to arrive, the FedEx truck rolled on up to my house and I had to wait a whole ten minutes before the bus came and I was able to retrieve my package from the front porch!  The agony!

 

Because, yep, that package contained fabric.  Adorable farm animal fabric that will work spectacularly well for a baby gift for a friend and her impending arrival:

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So. cute.  I love those little sheep, and that green print that just begs for some fussy cutting.  I think I’ve settled on a pattern, which won’t be as involved as I would like; but, I wasn’t planning on making a quilt in the next six weeks, so it’s got to be a bit of a quick sew so I can still fit in all my spring clothing sewing.  Whew!  Busy hands leave little time for wandering thoughts, so I’m thankful for the plethora of projects at this anxiety-provoking time!  It’s going to be a cute little quilt.  Plus, this collection–“Best Friends Farm”–has both a quilt panel and a soft book panel to sew up, too.  Lots of cute little projects to share with you over the next little while!

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Well, good night, dear readers.  I hope this is a peaceful time for you; a time to reconnect with family and a time to spend in a little bit of self-reflection.

And if it can’t be that, then I wish you wonderful success with whatever it is you choose to use to diffuse your stress.  Lucky me, I’ve got a kid who stress bakes, and she made some absolutely delicious soft pretzels this afternoon.  I wish you the kind of happiness that comes from eating a soft pretzel on a sunny day with your family.  Whatever that is for you, I hope it’s happening.  Stay healthy and safe!

 

Tuesday, Week #1 of Covid-19 School Closure

Last week, the State of Washington announced that it would be shutting down the schools in Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties for six weeks.  Guess where we live?  😉

Our school district has been absolutely awesome though–all students in grades 2-12 have a Chromebook to use at home, AND the district will be delivering breakfasts and lunches for free via the school bus routes.  How amazing is all that?!?!  I’m so, so happy for everyone who depends on school breakfasts and lunches for their kids.  One less thing to worry about during a time where there’s lots about which to worry.

Online learning begins in earnest tomorrow morning, so we’ll start getting an idea of what to expect in our daily lives pretty quick.  With my kids being on the older side, I’m really hoping that it will be painless.  It’d be great if I could just weather this whole thing out with just a lot of sewing, but schoolwork help is the top priority if I truly do have to make a decision about how to spend my time.  (Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that…)

I might also receive a package from Blank Quilting/Jaftex tomorrow–they sent out an email today saying that, because they’re releasing so many new collections in the month of April, they’re sending fabric to everyone, even if it’s not your month to receive fabric.  I’m scheduled for odd months, and I actually just sent off my March quilt to the quilter, so this is an appreciated surprise for me.  It looks like April is *the* month for their Halloween collections, so the odds are in favor of Halloween fabric.

But I might not receive a package?  I cut off the tip of my finger a couple of weeks ago, and had to send an email saying that I might fall behind on my March quilt, so there’s also a chance that they don’t send me anything because of that?  I don’t know.  There are many questions in my life at the moment and I’m doing my best to just roll with the punches.  (Finger is almost all healed up, thank you for your concern.)

I’m hoping to get a lot of spring clothing sewing done in the next few weeks as well.  I just finished up a dress for Ren, but still need to photograph it.  She was supposed to wear it when she sang with the youth choir for stake conference, but that was cancelled.  So I said she should wear it when she played a flute solo in church this coming Sunday, but then all church was cancelled.  So she wore it last Sunday for our first “church at home.”  I’d like to sew up two more dresses for her, plus a dress or two or three for me, a skirt for Emily, some Easter ties for my guys, and a hoodie or t-shirt for Rachel.  Truthfully, I’ll be lucky to get more than one of those things done, but I like big to-do-lists, so there you go.

Perhaps I’ll try to blog a little more during all this craziness–I find that I’m checking in online a whole lot more than usual these days, and it’s nice when a new post or the like pops up.  I assume it’s the same for you, dear readers, and that you especially appreciate posts that aren’t politically-divisive, religiously overbearing, or some obviously-not-true “cure” for Coronavirus.  (Spoiler alert: Gargling saltwater will not kill the virus…)

I wish you all a good evening, and hope that you’re finding uplifting ways to fill your days.  I also wish you good health, peace, and full bobbins.  Good night!

My Farm Girl Vintage quilt is FINALLY FINISHED!


April 4, 2015…almost five years ago.  That was the day I sewed up my first Farm Girl Vintage quilt block. I was three and a half weeks post-op from my back surgery; still in A LOT of pain, but knowing that I needed to get my butt out of bed somehow so I could regain strength and avoid any additional atrophy.  I decided to hold out the carrot of sewing, something I generally didn’t have a lot of time for in my pre-back injury days, to entice me to work through the pain.  Farm Girl Vintage had just been published, the sew along announced, and I wanted to tag along.  I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with making actual quilt blocks—I’d done a lot of English Paper Piecing, some string quilting, and some basic square patchwork up to that point—but I told myself I’d figure it out as I went along.

When I first looked at the specs for making the Wooly Sheep block that day, I almost shelved the book and walked away.  There were twenty-three separate pieces to cut to make that one block, an astronomical number to my newbie quilter mind.  I actually don’t know why I decided to go forward; it spooked me so bad, and I know what my usual response to that kind of shock was at that time…and it was NOT to go forward with it!  However, for whatever forgotten reason, I decided to give it a try.

It took about three hours to make that block, and I remember pinning it on my corkboard and sitting back to look at it and thinking, “I made that, and it looks like the picture in the book!”  I was absolutely chuffed. And, because I had made that one block, I knew I could continue and make all the other blocks in the book.  It was my reason to get out of bed during those months of physical therapy and non-stop pain: If I got through my exercises, I could make a quilt block that day.  Each block also carried the bonus of being able to post its finish on Instagram and then reading through nice comments from my friends.

I didn’t complete the sew along on time because I ended up getting a stress fracture in my foot from being too gung-ho about my physical therapy walks, and then I joined a year-long sewing bee and it was the Year of All the Baby Quilts, so I didn’t actually come back to finish the Farm Girl Vintage blocks until two years later. I finished up the remaining blocks by August of 2017, and then I have no notes about it at all until an Instagram post in March 2018 where I said it only needed its binding. But, my husband was looking for work and we ended up moving a few states away that year, so it sat in a box until just a little while ago when I went on a mad UFO-finishing spree and rediscovered it.  So here we are, two (in total, five) years later, and it is finally complete!

Knowing what I know now about quilting, I was so not ready for this quilt…and yet, it worked out.  There’s a couple of blocks in there that are quite bad (namely, the House and the Canning Jars), but I learned the necessary lessons from them and didn’t make those mistakes again, so the rest of the blocks are fine.  When I come across those particular blocks while I’m sitting under it, I smile and pat them, remembering how frustrated I was with them—and then I’m grateful I pushed on despite my imperfect results.

Don’t wait to make the quilts you want to make!  I had to re-do a number of these seams because they came out insane on the first try, but that’s the awesome thing about sewing: You can almost always rip out a seam and give it another try.  You don’t have to start over (usually), and even if you do, you can usually use the first “failure” block in a different project.  Really, the only true setback is if you run out of a particular fabric, and most of the time you can just buy some more.  Annoyed with yourself that you might be about having to do that, it’s not the end of the world.  (And trust me, just about EVERYONE who makes quilts has had to do that at some point!)

 

I watch new quilters fret about making mistakes, and place limits on themselves and deny themselves the projects that their hearts truly want to make, but you don’t have to do that!  Google tutorials about that kind of pattern, watch YouTube videos about it, read blog posts about beginner quilting tips, but above all, start sewing! And start sewing something you’re going to love!  Who cares if some of the seams are jaggedy?  Who cares if your color choices make you cringe later on?  Guess what?  You’ll learn the lesson and do better on the next one…because there’s always a “next” quilt.

It sits on the big red chair in my craft room and I snuggle underneath it as I read or do some hand sewing.  I’ve banned everyone in this house from ever using it on their beds because this quilt is MINE.  I cut my baby quilter teeth on this quilt.  I will be buried with this quilt.

Narumi Glam Clam Quilt for Blank Quilting

I mentioned a little while ago that I was chosen to be a brand ambassador for Blank Quilting Corporation, and that, from time to time, I’d be sharing some projects made with a new Blank Quilting fabric collection.  I’m excited to share my first such project with you today!


I was provided with the Narumi fabric collection, designed by Nathalie Runghen.  It’s an eleven piece collection, along with a panel, featuring Japanese designs in a palette of red, gray, black, and cream.

As luck would have it, my best friend spent a large amount of her childhood living in Japan, and red and black are amongst her favorite colors.  I decided it was time to make her a quilt!  After a little bit of mulling, I decided to make Latifah Saafir’s 8-inch Glam Clam quilt because the fan print made think that this collection would work well in a clamshell quilt…and now I need to also make a 12-, 10-, and 6-inch Glam Clam quilt, too.  Excellent pattern!

In addition to the Narumi fabric collection, Blank Quilting sent me some yardage of a couple of their basics: a gray shade of Urban Legends, their mottled solid line, which I used in the design, and “Red” from their Eclipse Solids collection, which I used for binding.  I also fussy-cut a little of the panel for a couple of clamshells.  The quilt was skewing too dark, so I added in some white to elevate it.

Ashley of Hen House Quilting quilted it up for me, and I love the design she picked.  I’m a little sad to let this go live at my bestie’s house!  I really, really like how this all turned out.  I adore that wisteria print, and I’m looking forward to what I’m going to make from the cherry blossom and geisha girls prints.  This is a fun collection!

I think it turned out really great! Thank you, Blank Quilting, for granting me this opportunity to work with this gorgeous collection!  Narumi is available in quilt shops now!  I hope you enjoy working with it as much as I have!

Jelly Belly Bars Quilt

That Crafty Cara's Jelly Belly Bars QuiltI just finished sewing up a lovely new pattern from Fat Quarter Shop called the Jelly Belly Bars Quilt.  It’s made from a jolly bar precut and a jelly roll precut, but I went rogue and made mine from a layer cake and, because the fabric I wanted to use for my frames didn’t come in a jelly roll, I hand-cut my frame strips.

Back in October, I posted on Instagram that I really wanted to make a low-volume quilt.  When I started brainstorming about what fabrics to use in my version of the Jelly Belly Bars Quilt, I thankfully remembered that desire and decided to move forward with that look in mind.

Cara Brooke's Jelly Belly Bars QuiltI used Modern Background Colorbox by Zen Chic for my prints, and the frames are Bella Solids in the “Ruby Ice” color (SKU# 9900-169).

My quilt looks a little different from the others you’ll see today because I added an outside border onto mine because the quilt as written finishes at 54.5 x 60″, and I’m just a little taller than average, so I knew it would be just a little too short for me to use it comfortably. I actually had a layer cake of the Modern Background Colorbox, so I just cut it in half and used the second set to piece a border.  Finished size with added border = 63.5 x 69″, which makes for an awesome-sized throw that will cover my toes.

That Crafty Cara's Jelly Belly Bar Quilt

For the backing, I used the “Sky Blue Picnic Basket” print (SKU# 24075-15) from April Rosenthal’s “Orchard” fabric collection.  I then bound the quilt with some more Bella Solids “Ruby Ice”.

That Crafty Cara's Jelly Belly Bar Quilt

The quilting was done by Ashley of Hen House Quilting.  I said that I wanted something modern, but not sharp; rounded if possible.  She picked out this quilting design and I couldn’t be more pleased.  It’s turned out exactly like I wanted.  Sweet, while still managing to be modern.  I absolutely love it.

Cara Brooke's Jelly Belly Bars Quilt

I mocked up a number of brainstormed ideas for this particular quilt, and I’d hate for them to go to waste, so I thought I’d share them with you, just in case they inspire you to go make a Jelly Belly Bars quilt of your own!

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Mock up of Jelly Belly Bars Quilt with Modern Background Colorbox frames, and Bella Solids Bleached White centers.

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Mock up of Jelly Belly Bars Quilt with Bella Solids Peacock (SKU 9900-216) frames and Modern Background Colorbox centers.

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for inviting me to sew along with you!  You can visit their post about this new Jelly Belly Bars quilt pattern on their blog by clicking here.

Or, you can just jump on over to Fat Quarter Shop and download a copy of the Jelly Belly Bars quilt pattern for yourself! You can also buy a Jelly Belly Bars quilt kit, and backing kit! Happy sewing!

2020 Word of the Year

Good morning!  Happy New Year, and a very merry “kids went back to school today” day to you as well.  Hee hee!

Are you all sick of Word of the Year posts yet?  New Year’s resolutions?  I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year because it does seem to get rather monotonous with the theme of goal-setting, but you know what?  I just realized how cool it is that almost all of us write these posts–we are similar in that we are all striving to be better.  And if that doesn’t give you hope for humanity, I don’t know what will.  We all at least think about becoming better versions of ourselves at the beginning of a new year.  I love that.  Carry on, fellow humans, with all your dreaming and optimism.

My word for 2020 is BLOOM.

At first I thought I’d go with “blossom” or “shine,” but “blossom” only talks about the flower, and “shine” can very quickly morph into arrogance or presumptuousness.  “Bloom”, though–it encompasses blossoming and also brings to mind the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted,” which makes me think of the roots spreading through the soil and the stalk of the plant growing taller and straighter and sturdier; it’s a word that means multi-dimensional growth, rather than just focusing on the growth of one aspect of the whole.

So, BLOOM it is.

I’m encouraging myself to branch out in my social activities.  I’ll be showing up to local crafty guild meetings in my area and trying to find one or two that fit my preferences.  Friends AND crafty inspiration, yes please!  Joining my local guilds has been on my to-do list since the move the Washington, but getting the kids settled was my main objective when we first got here, and then 2019 had some sticky issues to work through, so I’m only just now getting to it, and that’s fine.  It’s going to be fun!

As far as growing taller and straighter and sturdier, I’m taking the time to re-establish healthier habits, both physically and emotionally, and consciously trying to push myself to learn more and try new techniques in my crafts.

And blossoming/shining…well, it’s hard to get flowers if you don’t plant some seeds.  I’m in the seed-planting phase right now, but I’ve already had a seed blossom in a short time–I applied to a brand ambassador for Blank Quilting Corporation, and they offered me a spot on their Social Sewing Team!  How cool is that?!  They’ll send me cuts of a soon-to-be-released fabric collection every other month, and I’ll make something and post it.

So there you go…you can’t harvest where you don’t plant a seed.  Lesson learned.  I’m eager to see what other sorts of opportunities start to grow from seeds I’m going to give myself permission to plant this year, and I’m optimistic that 2020 will be a year of great harvest.

I decided that I also needed two support words: Balance and Celebrate–the first to keep me from throwing all my eggs into the crafty basket at the expense of time with my family, and the second because I realized that I have no idea how to actually celebrate a good thing when it happens beyond saying, “Oh.  Yay.  That happened.”  Which feels incomplete and like I’m denying myself the full range of joy when it comes to personal achievements.  So, yay, another area in which to grow.

Isn’t it great that we can refocus and refine these lives of ours?  What a gift!

Do you have a word for the year?  Multiple words?  Or is it not your thing?