falling snow

Friday, April 15, 2016

Goodbye Chores, Hello Plushie!

Yesterday began as any ordinary day usually does. Some days I have a mental list of things to be done, errands to run, hopes to accomplish. And some days, like yesterday, I have a written list just waiting for the check marks indicating finished tasks. A small reward, but a treat none the less. Yesterday's list included a crafty task: make a plushie (or feltie as Simon Says Stamp calls them). As I began all the other tasks, saving the fun one for last, I began to think about sitting on the deck in the afternoon sun stitching up my plushie. Oh what a treat that would be! After all, I reasoned (I can be very good at reasoning when it's to my advantage!), our spring days of perfection are so very numbered here in the midwest before summer's heat sends us scurrying indoors and chores, well, chores can be done this evening. So I selected my colors from some Taylored Expressions and Papertrey Ink felt, die cut the Simon Says Stamp Plush Springtime Bunny and accessories, gathered all my supplies in a very small basket and headed out to the deck. 

It was the perfect day for such a project, sitting on the deck stairs dressed in t-shirt sleeves with a spring breeze and dappled sunlight dancing through the not quite leafed out old Maple tree. It has been quite a few years since I have enjoyed hand sewing (cross stitch was once my passion until card making came along) and I had forgotten how I once loved sitting with needle and thread in hand, enchanted as colors played and designs emerged on the canvas before me. This little plush bunny brought the same delight as I added her features, embellished, and saw her come to life. She did indeed bring giddy smiles over the evening as I picked her up from time to time, petting her, thinking about the leisurely time spent outdoors this afternoon.

I decided to make her a lop eared bunny instead of the ones found in nature with their ears straight up like the photo on the SSS die indicates. I added a small pleat at the top of the ear to give it a bit of dimension, and if anyone wants a peak, the inside is lined in pink.

I began by stitching the outline on the ears in a running stitch, but then realized it didn't look as nice as I had hoped on the back side. When I stitched the bodies together, I stitched every other stitch using three strands of embroidery floss and then went back around stitching the skipped stitches. I used a very small amount of fiberfill as stuffing and some Recollections adhesive pearls for the eye and the flower centers. Her whiskers were made from four strands of the same embroidery floss used to stitch her body, and then slightly coated with a tiny amount of Tacky Glue to give them a bit of stiffness. The rolled roses and leaves are included with the die as well as a couple of buttons and a daisy flower. I sprinkled in a few french knots and added a bit of stitching to the leaves for more dimension. Her tail is the rose die before it is rolled to make the flower.

Simon Says Stamp is having a Plush Contest on Instagram and I'm submitting this little lop eared bunny. If you have an IG account, you can follow me by clicking the small camera icon above on the right side bar menu or search for abbeys_attic on IG. You may also view the other contest entries by searching for #sssplushcontest. 

I hope each of you is taking time out to enjoy the beauty of spring. And, if you're anything like me, those yesterday's chores are still waiting for today! Oh, but there's no way to recapture a day like I enjoyed, so I'll take them as they come, and look out plushie, there just may be a buddy in your very near future on another tempting spring day!

A blessed spring to you,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Morning Has Broken!

"Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dew fall, on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass."
-- Mark Stevens

"Morning has broken." Rebirth, renewal and re-creation are upon us once again. Indeed, this is one of my favorite songs on Easter Sunday as we celebrate our risen Savior. We awoke to a snowy Easter Sunday this morning here in the Midwest, big, fat, fluffy flakes silently descending upon the waiting earth. It was quite the sight to behold since our winter had been so mild. And by this afternoon, a bit of warming and glorious bright sunshine, so fine for this day of celebration!

I'm sharing a fun little Easter card I made this year. I wanted to do something "cute" since I just received the Simon Says Stamp set, "Melody's Easter." A set filled with cute!

The background for the sheep and bunny was cut from the My Favorite Things "Stitched Arch Stax," distressed, and flicked with some water from a paint brush to add depth. The animals were spot colored with Prismacolor pencils and the sheep was paper pieced with some paper run through an embossing folder for a bit of texture for her fur. The bunny's and sheep's feet were coated with Wink of Stella and Glossy Accents for some shine and sparkle. I clear embossed the sentiment on patterned paper from the Simon Says Stamp March Card Kit, my first kit. I'm looking forward to using those cute Peeps bunnies on some spring cards yet this season. A few sequins from the kit added a bit of springtime bling. Several Simon Says products on this card, so I'm entering this in the Simon Says Stamp Flickr Challenge #41, "Anything Goes."

I hope each of you has had a most joyous and blessed Easter filled with hope and renewal. And, maybe, just a bit of chocolate, too! 


Paper: Neenah Solar White; Bazzill; Echo Park "Spring"
Ink: PTI "Limeade Ice" "Lemon Tart"; Ranger "Abandoned Coral"; Versafine Black
Dies: MFT "Stitched Arch Stax"
Stamps: SSS "Melody's Easter"
Other: SSS March Card Kit; We R Memory Keepers Embossing Folder "Woven"; Prismacolor Pencils; Wink of Stella
          Glossy Accents; WOW Clear Embossing Powder

Saturday, March 19, 2016


It has been quite a long, unintended blog break since last April except for a couple of special day posts and a Valentine to share. Last spring found me busily cleaning the backyard, moving plants, creating a few new planting areas, and doing general cleanup after two years of neglect. The activity continued until the Midwest heat and humidity sent me scurrying back inside when I busied myself with tending to long neglected things on the "to do list for someday," when "someday" finally arrived. I began this post in late November, Christmas is already past, winter arrived in her full glory mild though she was, and spring is beckoning once again, ever beckoning. Over and over again I rediscover the renowned truth that time indeed doesn't wait for me.

In amongst the busyness I have been listening attentively, especially the last few months.

Listening to birdsong at the feeders in early spring last year as this mama downey woodpecker fed her baby, and now, as the birds feed heartily through winter's end and spring's beginning.

Listening, trying oh so hard, to listen to the beat of butterfly wings in late summer.

Listening to the wind in the trees as autumn's coming ushered summer on its way.

Listening to the silence that is winter; listening for her stillness for filling, guiding, enfolding.

Listening as spring bursts forth heralding her cleansing song of hope, rebirth, and renewal.

Listening. It is something I did frequently in my days as a Pastoral Assistant. There were times I was asked what my "job" involved. As I described the usual tasks, my response always ended with, "I listen." I didn't advise or counsel. I was simply available in the presence of one who needed to be heard. I listened. I was honored and humbled to share in that rare gift in which both participants receive. One is gifted by being heard and the other is gifted as the trusted recipient of words that comprise a life story. I learned, over the years, to listen to not only the spoken but also the unspoken words; oftentimes they completed a story, and I would speak them for others when they could not. The small plaque remains on my bathroom mirror, placed there when I first began my ministry, all those years ago.

It is true. It continues to impress upon me the value of listening to whoever needs to be heard, whenever I chance upon them in daily comings and goings; these days, even as I listen to myself. Ah, yes, it is often the most difficult task of all, to listen to ourselves, those internal hints and rumblings.

And so, I have been fine tuning my listening skills once again, having not practiced them as much over the last few years. I continue to listen, as I hear over and over again the conversation with Dr. S that fateful day last summer on July 27, after his examination and review of the ultrasound results. 

It is the "c" word. 

You know the one.

To this day it is still difficult to say the word and even harder to put in writing. Sweet, sweet Spirit, our dear girl, the good cat, the princess, the diva, sweet Spirit Anne, was diagnosed with a growth on her bladder wall. A tumor approximately the size of the little finger nail. It is the first time I have used the "t" word, preferring to reference it simply as "the growth." Somehow it seemed less invasive that way, less terrifying, less ominous, less hopeless, even less real. There was no way to diagnose if the tumor was malignant, but in most cases, when located in the bladder, it is cancerous. There, I did it. Both words in writing, in the same sentence. It is real. To biopsy the tumor meant the risk of spreading the possible cancer. And so we assumed the worst and provided the best treatment possible. Spirit was experiencing blood in her urine in May and again in July without any sign of infection. Sometimes there can be an infection that doesn't show up when the urine is examined. An ultrasound was done with the expectation there might be a bladder stone; a good thing, all in all, treatable. But that was not to be. Spirit also had kidney dysfunction since December 2011 and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in May 2015. There wasn't anything to be done for the hyperthyroidism or the tumor since any treatment would have been too detrimental to her already weakened kidneys. It may have caused kidney failure. I asked the question, the one I always fear asking, but know I must, so I may plan how to spend my days. TC taught me well what matters most is time spent with loved ones. "How long do we have?" And Dr. S's response was, "Four to six months. It could be longer." I listened, as I knew to do, to his kind, unspoken words. "It could be fewer." And I knew, in the depths of my heart from watching her over the following days and weeks, "fewer" was the greater reality.

September, 2015

Spirit was doing well until the week of September 13; eating well, gaining a bit of weight, sunning herself at the front door as the heat of summer gave way to cooler mornings beckoning her to enjoy the approaching Autumn days. I cannot go into the details of all that transpired this week; the words are not there, and perhaps it isn't even necessary. Suffice it to say, it was a difficult week of emergency phone calls and visits to the vet. I am writing to let you know it is believed our sweet girl suffered a stroke, possibly several, sometime between September 18 and 19. We bid her peace just shortly after noon on the 19th, cradled in our arms, held so very close I didn't think we would ever be able to let her go. 

Spirit was 17, a smallish cat weighing nine to ten pounds in her prime, with a personality as huge as the chasm her absence has left in our hearts. She had the biggest, loudest purr and raspiest meow that reminded us she was in our midst. She made the rules and she enforced her rules for our entire family. She was the boss, the princess, the diva. She could also be the wild child. She did everything in a big way. She was named Spirit for a reason, for all the trials she had to overcome when she first appeared on August 28, 1998 as a malnourished, critically ill stray in our neighborhood. Her absence continues to leave its mark on our family because her presence was so impressive. Our home is not only empty now, but continues to experience a vacancy of spirit. It is the void of her presence. Time has once again become my friend for I have tread this path before. My plan was to document Spirit's journey the same as I did for TC. The busyness took over and unexpectedly I ran out of time. It has been six months today; holding her in my arms, listening to her purr, and feeling her soft fur still a vivid memory. I close my eyes and I feel her head butts upon my chin, her face rubbing my face. It doesn't seem possible, six months of days, and yet, the tears now are most often replaced with smiles, comforting memories of a gentle soul that continues to inhabit our spirits. I plan to tell Spirit's story as it is one I wish to share with those who care to read it. But even today, I haven't the words. They will become known, in their own time, when I can embrace their presence and give voice to her story. For now, I invite you to share with me a brief photo journey of 17 years loving one beloved gentle cat, our sweet, sweet Spirit.

First photo - September 28, 1998. She was 8 months old and weighed only 4lbs 7 oz.
She spent her first month "with us" in quarantine at the vet's office. I visited her daily.

First bath - Fall, 1998

Summer, 1999

A favorite photo - September, 1999

Another favorite photo - 1999
November 10, 2001

December, 2001
December 19, 2002

June, 2005

Another favorite - August 26, 2005
December 31, 2006

December 25, 2007
April 29, 2010
October 25, 2011
October 31, 2011
November 28, 2011
April 4, 2013

July, 2015
July, 2015

Blessed be your heart, sweet Princess Spirit.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


I'm running later than planned with posting this year's valentines, but better late than never, I suppose. A few unexpected occurrences the week of Valentine's Day (our refrigerator, already on its last leg, decided to completely fizzle three days before the new one was due to arrive) and a cold/flu last week that sent me scurrying beneath the covers for three days of solid nothingness (such an unusual occurrence here!) has meant that I'm just now playing catch up.

My friend requested I make a gift bag for her nephew for Christmas with an elephant on it. I used one of the cute elephants from WPlus9, "Unforgettable" and added a Santa hat diecut to make it a bit more festive. It was quite sparkly in real life with Diamond Stickles added to each of the snowflakes and the white trim on the hat. The "merry" was cut from DCWV green glitter paper.

I am sharing this bag because when it came time to think about Valentines, I knew just what I wanted to make for her.  I admit I do have a soft spot for cute animals, and when Birdie Brown's "Adorable Elephants" was finally in stock, it was destined to have a home in the Attic. Every now and then I design a valentine that has lots of layers and is specifically a "love" type of card. Usually I tend to gravitate toward valentine designs that can be remade for other occasions, often times with a simple sentiment. This is one such design, that by simply leaving off "valentine," could be sent for all types of reasons:

And inside, quite simply:

That she does. Every day. On all types of occasions, in all ways, and always! And she is loved!


Cardstock: Neenah Solar White; SSS Sea Glass; Ranger Distress Watercolor Paper
Stamps: MFT "Adorable Elephants"
Dies: MFT "Stacked Cloud Edges"; TE "Frame in Frame"; ME "Happy Valentine's Day", "All Prettied Up"
        SSS "Stacked Hearts"
Ink: Peacock Feathers; Broken China; Versafine Onyx Black
Other: Prismacolor Pencils; Wink of Stella; Glossy Accents; SSS Asst'd Moonshine Sequins

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Can't Make Just One!

Pretty Pink Posh is hosting a Valentine Challenge to create a card or project inspired by one of their designers. I am relatively new to this line, but really fell for their products during their second birthday celebration as I saw the lovely things their designers had created for the festivities. And, of course, I ordered some new things, too!

My project was inspired by Liz' card; I love red and white crispness for Valentine's Day and I couldn't resist those sweet animals. As an added bonus, dh just so happened to give me the set, "Holiday Pals" for Christmas, one he carefully selected from the quite lengthy wish list I provided so whatever I received would be a surprise. I admire that he really does review the entire list to select his favorite (he does go for cute, like me), what he thinks is my most wished for item, or in most cases as his rational mind dictates, what he feels I will use the most...

Since I have been participating in a local scrapbooking group, I have wanted to make favors for the different holidays, but for one reason or another, never managed to complete them in time. I had watercolored several of the images from the new stamp set for the first couple of days of Kathy's 30 Day Coloring Challenge, and while doing so, thought about Valentine treats for the girls. Once I saw the above challenge, I knew just what I wanted to make!

The Lawn Fawn "Milk Carton" and Penny Black "Love Always" dies, teamed up with some gingham checks and a cute animal, and they're perfect for some Valentine M&M's and Dove chocolate hearts. The SSS "Small Heart Doily" created a great accent for the sweet animals. I first made one, and then it turned into six! Each carton featured a different animal with added spots of Diamond Stickles to the bird tummies, bunny tails, and the hat brims and pompoms for a bit of Valentine's sparkle. 

And here they are all lined up, just before being delivered to the girls at our monthly gathering.

These were so much fun to make that I decided to give them to friends also. So, lots more die cutting and assembly, and here are seven more already delivered to loved ones.

I am also entering this project in the Simon Says Flickr Challenge #38, Lots of Love.

Thanks for stopping by the Attic today; I so appreciate your visit. Wishing each of you a very Happy Valentine's Day surrounded by those you love!


Materials Used:
Paper: Recollections cardstock; Hobby Lobby Gingham Check; Red cardstock from the scrap basket
          Memory Box B&W check and red & white dots; Strathmore Watercolor Paper
Stamps: Pretty Pink Posh - "Holiday Pals"
Dies: Lawn Fawn "Milk Carton"; Penny Black "Love Always"; Simon Says Stamp "Small Heart Doily"
Ink: Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens; Versafine Black
Other: Heart Confetti; Lawn Fawn Trimmings "Red Sparkle"; Twinery Twine; Recollections Binder Clips