Saturday, January 18, 2014

Missing Pieces

 The biggest thing missing in this new year has been my ability to focus. I literally could not remember anything, could not decide on anything, nor could I accomplish anything. I had big plans to start this year with a bang but when I woke up on January 1st I had forgotten where I put them.
Empty as this bowl was my mind.

I can't believe I just wrote that....ugh.
The kids were having a Star Wars marathon downstairs and it appears
Yoda took advantage of my mental vacancy and moved in.
The force is definitely not with me.

Luckily, my camera is full of images and since a picture is worth a thousand words I'll let them help me put some of the pieces together.
We did indeed head up to my parents house for Christmas.
Earlier this year my mom joined the doll club I belong to so she received one of the garlands I made for party favors at our holiday lunch earlier in December. I don't know about you but I think it looks much better hanging up on her mantle than it did on my picture. Remind me to ask for a fireplace from Santa next year because goodness knows I'll probably forget before it comes time to write a North Pole letter again.

By the afternoon of the 25th all secrets had been revealed. Here's the trivet/potholder I gave the little sneak peek of. It really was so much fun to make up. Project credit goes to Ayumi Takahashi and her amazing book Patchwork Please but the inspiration to actually put the book to use goes to  this post from "Hen House." Truly amazing work!
I gave it to my mom.....

.....along with one of the little bird ornaments I was making up and an old copy
of The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin.

She in turn gave me this book!

It was written by one R. H. Horne and details the yearlong adventures of a jointed wooden doll named Maria Poppet. Something of a British version of Hitty I'd guess you might say which is more than enough to guarantee an afternoon of delightful reading.

In my head I made it my book of the month for December but since my head was not communicating with my actions it failed to make it's reveal until now. I was at a loss coming up with a doll but I did manage to "borrow" this one from dear daughter's American Girl stash. Obviously it's not British. Neither is it handmade. It is wooden, however, and.....

.....has the sweetest little red shoes painted on her feet!

We were home again in time to host my dad's New Year's Eve birthday meal.

It was indeed a Polish feast. Dear Hubby made the Paprika Chicken from the old recipe book I found. This shot of it in the early stages of preparation seems to be the only photo I not to get in hubby's way when he's cooking!

I made up all my dad's favorite sides including cucumber salad and noodles with cottage cheese.

The centerpiece of it all turned out to be the Bigos, an old fashioned hunting stew with pork, sausage, sauerkraut, and mushrooms as the main ingredients. Honestly I think this was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as the kids were concerned. After it was all said and done they told me the food was "just plain scary!" My dad on the other hand loved it.

A few of our gifted items turned out to be a bit "scary" for them as well and required a day of returns at none other than my favorite place...the mall. I did find this little pin during our outing which got me thinking about getting back to work on some crafty projects. Tiny stitches taken in stolen moments are a great source of joy for me and I wanted to get a needle back in my hands.

And so....not too many days after our mall adventure I skipped out for and afternoon of fabric shopping on my own. I came home with this bag of goodies and a plan.

It started out as good a plan as any. I'd have my theme for the year be that of the "Empty Bowl." I vaguely remembered reading somewhere about Zen monks carrying empty begging bowls in the practice of releasing control over worldly concerns and simply accepting what was given to them each day. I could practice a similar idea only have my empty bowl host the crafting supplies that came my way. I could take one picture of the supplies gathered in the bowl at the beginning of each month and then another picture of the bowl filled with the finished pieces I'd made up from the contents at the end of the month.
It could be fun.
It could be interesting.   
it could be that I was totally abusing the concept of the empty bowl.
My focus very quickly went from accepting what came my way to planning fabric shopping sprees with projects already in mind. Kind of controlling and materialistic don't you think?
I also became a bit obsessed with bowls.
In addition to my now not so "empty bowl" I started an English paper piecing bowl and...

....a granny square crochet bowl!
I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks, only no matter how much I kept tasting from the bowls none of them were "just right." I imagine I'd have gone on making an entire collection of crafty bowls but I just so happened to stumble upon a post by Austin Kleon titled "Something Small, Every Day."

I have a tendency to want to fill BIG chunks of time (weeks, months, even years) with lots of LITTLE projects. Such endeavors tend to become overwhelming and list ridden. In Kleon's post, however, he recommends you forget about tracking time beyond the day you are in and by doing so BIG projects can be accomplished in LITTLE bits of time.
This I thought might be good for me. I have something BIG I've wanted to try for a while now but  never did because I couldn't justify spending extended periods of time devoted to it. If it were only 30 minutes a day on the other hand, that I could justify. The supplies in this case were minimal and on hand.....the 2014 calendar that came along with my latest issue of Mollie Makes, a bag of wooden mish mash dug out from the bottom of my stash closet, and an old notebook. I'm sure more items will be needed down the road but since I don't need them today I'm doing my best not to think about what they might be.

So far I've collected some thoughts and quite a few "x's" on the calendar, one for each day "something small" is attended to. Once I've got something to show for my work I'll do just that,
 but in the meantime....

.....I intend to keep my bowl empty as a reminder to let things come to be in their own time and not try to predetermine their outcome or timeline.


  1. Always fatal to pop in to see you! You never fail to fill me with ideas and inspiration and completely deviate me from my day's work!! Lovely stuff as always. Eli x

    1. Thanks so much Eli! From the tremendous (and fabulous!) undertakings I see going on over in your neck of the woods it looks as if you are long due for a day off from work....your must be exhausted but deliriously happy in your new kitchen! Congratulations!!!

  2. . . . I loveeeeeeeeeeeee the trivet . . . we need to talk !! . . . did you use EPP ? . . .

    1. It wasn't EPP although it does seem as if that would be easy to do. I used the stitch and flip foundation piecing method....easy breezy! Let's try to get together for coffee or lunch...we're long due for a show and tell session!

  3. What a lovely post! Delightfully well written.

  4. Kate Douglas Wiggin is one of my favorite authors! And that sweet little book was my gift to some sweet women in our family a few Christmases ago.... And, of course, I had to add one to my collection, too:)
    I love the trivet; the fabrics are darling and the stitching ...perfection!

    1. Happy Belated New Year Christie! I'm so glad you popped in for a look see....I'm planning a tea time visiting session myself so I'll be over your way very soon!
      Until then,
      natalie jo

  5. I love The Birds' Christmas Carol and have read it to my kids at Christmas, except for this year, they are all too old. And I have read Memoirs of a London Doll online. I would love to find a physical copy. But I have a question: What is The Book of the Month for December? I have been waiting with bated breathe. I love keeping lists of books in my journal and I acknowledge whose list it is but I can't complete this until you let us know. Thank you for sharing your Christmas and New Year's with us. I love looking at your projects. Linda S. from Canada.

    1. Oh dear Linda I am ever so sorry to make you wait! My book choice for December was in fact "Memoirs of a London Doll" although I think lumping it into the large post like I did made it more than a bit confusing. I still need to add it to the sidebar as a link as well! Maybe that would help? You should know my second choice was Tasha Tudor's "The Dolls' Christmas" which most likely would have been a more seasonal choice but since I've talked about that book several times already on the blog I decided to do something new. Maybe you could write both down on your list...just for fun!!! One more thing....have yourself a peek over on Ebay if your interested in a copy of "Memoirs." I just did so myself and not only saw several very reasonably priced editions but also a vintage signed one! Good Luck...if you get one I'd love to know!

      Happy Wishes,
      natalie jo

    2. Thank you for replying to my comment. I'll add them both to the list. I've been looking for "The Dolls" Christmas" secondhand for a while. I've never ordered anything online and am afraid to start - too tempting. Sorry I took so long to thank you but I've been gone for a few days and we've had horrible snowstorms, and couldn't get home and I don't go on the internet much when I'm gone.

    3. Linda you sound quite a bit like me concerning this whole online business. My phone is just that...a phone not a mini computer. I do not have (nor do I want) an ipad, an ipod, a kindle, or a nook. I go online as little as possible and when I'm away from home I am truly away. My kids and even hubby think I'm quite old fashioned and can't understand how I can go hours or even DAYS without checking my e-mail. I simply say to them that it serves me and not the other way around. So please don't ever worry about a delay in response when your visiting with me! If I don't hear from someone in a bit I just figure they must be out enjoying real life and we'll reconnect when the time is right.

      And as far as acquiring the doll is the quick fix for sure but I find if it's something I really truly wish for life will somehow put it in my path as if it was just meant to be! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  6. A delightful and thought-provoking post, Natalie Jo. i will think about what you've said, and see if it helps me out of a creative funk.


    1. Oh no Beth....not a funk in your neck of the woods! Perhaps it's not a funk at all but rather a mini hibernation....and I'm sure by the time your wake from your winter's slumber those creative juices will be flowing once again.
      Looking forward to your next project!
      natalie jo