Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crafter's Block

Have you ever had writer's block?  I know I have.  As an attorney, I write quite a bit, and sometimes it's so hard to start something.  Once I get going, I'm usually fine, but just getting started can be daunting.

I'm having crafter's block.  I know I want to work on something, but I'm just not sure what.  I have four projects in some stage of development, and two finished afghans I want to show off (and list on Etsy).  I am working on those projects, but they are the kind of projects that take a lot of time.  I'm doing them in little free moments.  Maybe the reason I can't finish them is because I'm just not excited about starting anything.  Crafter's block.

I've been working on a couple of things to help me to get over the crafter's block.  First, I'm going to finish those pesky pending projects which will probably be the hardest thing.  Have you ever noticed that the piece you were writing when you experienced writer's block was the hardest thing you ever wrote?  Even after getting past the block, the first few things are just hard to finish.

Next, I'm looking for inspiration.  I have plenty of projects I had planned before, but I need something interesting to get this block out of my way.  I'm turning to the source for all inspiration - Pinterest.  Pinterest is so much fun, but soooo addictive.  Through Pinterest, I found another place of inspiration - Craftgawker.  Now that is a seriously dangerous place for crafters.  It's a lot like Pinterest, but limited to craft projects.  It has a sister sight, Foodgawker, which is also great for those of you who cook.

Tomorrow is October 1, so I'm going to put together an October project list.  Tomorrow.  Later.  I still have some time.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Coffee Date

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you . . .

Lately I've been writing Scripture verses on my Facebook page.  I originally started with the following verse as a commentary on the upcoming election:

If my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence and turn from their wicked ways, then I will listen from heaven and forgive their sins and restore their country. 2 Chronicles 7:14

I had so many "likes," I decided to keep doing it.  Every time I do it, I get more likes and some comments.  I really think God's word resonates with people.  Even better, I'm enjoying how it makes me examine Scripture, one book at a time.

The way I've been doing it is fun too.  For ease in cutting and pasting, I use an online Bible.  I go to the page with the list of the books of the Bible, close my eyes and move the cursor and click.  Whatever book I find myself, I read and find a passage I like.  It's kind of like Bible surfing the electronic way!

There have been a few times that have been harder than others.  The other day I found myself in the Song of Songs.  I love that book, but sometimes the verses are so personal between a husband and wife that it's hard to find one that is more applicable for general viewing.  I ended up with probably the only familiar verse in the book.  Here's what I picked:

Set me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is strong as Death, passion as relentless as Sheol. The flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of Yahweh himself. Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown. Were a man to offer all his family wealth to buy love, contempt is all that he would gain." Song of Songs 8: 6-7

Today I picked the following verse.  I think it's a great verse to pray about in the morning, so here's my Friday gift to you, my coffee buddies:

"The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

Great take away - the Lord is patient in carrying out His promises because He wants everyone to experience them and turn to Him.  



"Friday Coffee Date" is a weekly feature from Rags to Stitches.  Join me there to read some great insights and have some coffee.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back in the (School) Day

At the risk of looking really old, I've been thinking back on my high school days in the '80s.  It's September now, and I'm reminded of all those Friday nights when we went to the football games.  I went to a Catholic high school in southern Illinois and we didn't have our own football field, so we used the stadium of the big public school about 5 miles away.  (For those of you still in Belleville, that's my best guess.)  I specifically remember those games as a freshman, because we didn't have cars or rides from anyone but our parents.  God forbid our parents would drop us off at the stadium - NOOOOO.  We would have them drop us off about a mile or two away and then we would walk down West Main Street.  Now that I think about that, we were kind of stupid because that was a long walk and sometimes it was cold.

Back in the day, we wore big hair and clogs.  I was never too much into the big hair thing, but I did have clogs.  You know, backless shoes with wedge heels.  Our heels were never that high, but they were wooden and made a lot of noise when you walked.  I can also remember how much my feet hurt at the end of the day - my heels from walking on a wooden block and my toes from scrunching them to keep the clogs on.  But as my mother would say "Beauty knows no pain."  (Although I definitely don't remember her saying that about those clogs.)

Yeah, we went through some weird clothing trends during my high school years.  I started high school at the very beginning of the 80s and went off to college toward the end.  We started with the "preppy look."  For most of you who were born after my high school years, that consisted of plaid skirts (preferably pleated), long knee socks and loafers.  You could wear a button down blouse with a ribbon tie at the collar, with a muted sweater over the blouse.  You could always wear clogs instead of loafers.  By the end of high school, we were teasing our hair and getting "punked out" with the big shirts/sweaters, bright colors, leg warmers and leggings.  Yep, we wore some crazy stuff.

I remember my freshman year at Homecoming.  We had a parade down West Main Street and every class (freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors) also had their own floats on flatbed.  Everyone used wood forms, chicken wire and tissue paper flowers to make figures for the float.  I made so many of those tissue paper flowers, my fingers were cut up by the floral wire we used to keep them together.  (See, even then I was crafty!)  The freshman float always looked pretty sad.  I remember that year the seniors made a giant Pac Man eating a player from the other team - impressive.  That year at football games, we saw the appearance of a new mascot - the Crusader.  Here was a guy dressed in armor (yep, the real thing), riding a big white horse and carrying a banner.  It was very cool.  We never knew who the Crusader was until the last pep rally of the football season when it was revealed to be one of our school priests.  Oh man, was he awesome!

Yep, the 80s were a very strange decade.  We saw the birth of MTV and music videos, very crude video games (remember Pong?), crazy fashions and awesome music.  I was there and I wouldn't change that for all the world.

Go Althoff Crusaders!


I'm participating in the SITS Girls "Fall Back into Blogging" this week.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Do you sometimes feel like everyone knows about something you don't?  I had that feeling tonight when I found my daughter playing on a website called Wordle.  Once I looked at it, I realized how many of you are doing your word art.  Shame on you for not sharing!  I'm still not great at this, but I'm having fun trying.  (Please excuse my screen shots, I haven't figured out how to get these images in anything larger than a thumbnail)

Just so no one can accuse me of failing to share . . . Wordle is a website where you type words or paste text and it creates a word "picture".  The more you use a word, the larger it appears.  The picture above represents some of my labels from Straddling the Gap.  

You can use the "Randomize" button to create different font, colors, backgrounds without trying.  Here are words A to Z in two different settings:

Our school has started to use this as a way for kids to practice spelling words - isn't that clever?  It makes it fun to practice their spelling words (and it's great for mom because Wordle has spell-check.)  Here are Mackenzie's spelling words this week:

You can also design your word art the way you want.  You can pick from a bunch of fonts, align horizontal, vertical or any which way, choose colors and backgrounds.  I'll warn you now - it's pretty addictive - not Pinterest, but great for a half hour or so.  However long you like to do it, your elementary kids will LOVE it.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On the Go

I know my blog is called "Straddling the Gap," but these days my whole family is straddling lots of huge gaps.  The kids are so busy with activities, it's all Kent and I can do to keep up.  Mackenzie has religious education, choir, softball, Girl Scouts and martial arts.  Christian has religious education, Boy Scouts, bowling, Do-Re-Mi (music group), martial arts and youth group.  (And we were worried he wouldn't have enough social interaction with homeschooling!)

Kent and I do a lot of "hand-offs."  Because his days are spent teaching our son, he does his work in the evening and on weekends.  I come home, we say hello and goodbye, and I see him about an hour before bedtime.  It's not the easiest arrangement, but it appears to work best for the kids.  It's a little more hectic for Kent and I.  Kent recently told me "Welcome to the tween years."  I guess so.

The next 10 years are going to be interesting.  Our kids will go through the teen years into college and we will approach retirement.  I tell myself that our kids will keep us young, but in the meantime I might get a lot more gray hair.

Buckle up.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday Coffee Date

If we were having coffee today . . .

I would tell you how I haven't really been too interested in blogging or crafting lately.  I don't usually enjoy just relaxing doing nothing, but that's all I've been doing lately

After all, I'm sitting here having coffee with you.

I worry if I don't blog more, I will lose the small audience I have.  I have so much sewing I want to do, I just can't decide where to start.

School is in full swing and we are just as busy at night as the kids are.  Every night before bed I try to think of something to write (like now), but end up falling asleep.

Maybe I need a coffee date at night.


Coffee Dates is a concept from Alissa at Rags to Stitches.  Drop by and pull up a chair every Friday - better yet, come over to Rags to Stitches and catch the whole coffee crowd.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Broccoli - Bacon Salad

Letting go of summer in Phoenix produces mixed feelings.  In Arizona, the coming of fall means that the best temperate weather of the fall and winter.  On the other hand, summer is summer.  In an attempt to hold on a little longer, I offer this recipe.  It is a great cold salad that you can make hours in advance. It's crunchy, sweet and sour.

Broccoli Bacon Salad


5 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound broccoli florets (approximately), cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 cup diced sweet bell pepper (red, orange, yellow, or a combination)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted


1. Cook bacon in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
2. Blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to boil. In another large bowl, prepare an ice bath with equal parts water and ice cubes. Add broccoli florets to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath immediately to cool. Drain the broccoli again and dry the florets by spinning in a salad spinner or by laying them out on several paper towels.
3. Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Add broccoli, bell pepper, raisins, pine nuts, and shallot to the bowl with the dressing, and toss to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed, then sprinkle with the cooked bacon. Chill until ready to serve.
That's it!  With the blanched broccoli, the brightly colored peppers and the bacon.  It's a great easy salad that is sweet and substantial  Enjoy!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Verde Canyon Railroad

We were in the Verde Valley area of Arizona during Labor Day Weekend.  The Verde Valley is in Central Arizona, south of Sedona and about 90 miles north of Phoenix.  It's a bit overlooked in the shadow of Sedona, so I wasn't sure what we would do over the weekend.  But we found one of the best gems in Arizona - the Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Turning a Page and a Winner!

Anybody who reads this blog knows I live in Arizona.  I love living here.  I'm not a "native" in that I was born here, but anyone who has ever been to Arizona knows that my 16 years of living here entitles me to the title of "native."  One of the best things about living in Arizona is getting to travel to all the interesting parts of this state and to see the landscapes and creatures.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - Sedona Hike

There's lots to say about this weekend, but let's just make at least some of it easy:

Hope your holiday weekend was great!