January 31, 2010

...grateful treasures

this is my father-in-law grandpa brent and my daughter tess. 
 this photo is a blessing of sorts because grandpa brent isn.t found in too many pictures. he must.ve always been hiding when the camera came out i guess. i stole this rare appearance a few weeks ago while we were visiting our family in utah. i am so grateful for tender mercies that are unrecognizable at the moment.... but show their kind faces when the time is just right.
grandpa b unexpectedly went to heaven friday night.
interesting how a photo i skipped right over several days ago suddenly became a treasure...

January 28, 2010

...a thankful heart on thursday!

today i am so thankful for...

* the few extra moments i found to embroider on a "work in progress".
* all the heartfelt comments i received for zane.s mom yesterday.
thank you.  honestly.  thank you.
* a clean microwave.
* the color orange.
* friends who dare to dream with me.
* my mistakes.
because i really do learn what not to do from them
* my 2nd grader barging through the front door just now and hollering...
"stockton is home!"
* the awesome "old" library book checkout cards i found at the local thrift store.
hmmm.  any ideas?
(my children don't even know what those are!)
* the 7 chocolate chip cookies the above "stockton"
just brought to "share" with me.
ya.  right.
* oh.  and caffeine.

so, peeps...what goodness is in your life today?

January 27, 2010

...remembering zane

...it.s early morning january 27th, 2009... i had just dropped off a car full of loud, wiggly, giggling, singing, rambunctious elementary kids at school.  watched them as a few took off running.  one skipped.  her backpack looking entirely too big for her little kindergarten body and the older ones sauntered and chattered about each others outfits for the day.  i turned my big old SUV around and headed for home.
"ahh, a now quiet home."
as i slowed at the final stop sign at the fork in the road i felt a slight tug to turn my car right.
"why turn right?"  i said to myself.  "we live left remember?  we do this everyday chrissy."
"go right."     "turn right."    it whispered again.
"this is silly", i thought to myself.  but just to be sure i looked off to my right...
there, down the desert road a few houses, were lights swirling.   lights on trucks.   some high and some low.  people in dark clothes were hurridly jumping from the cars.  hands full and running towards the nearest house.
"go", it said again.
i replied with, "is that the jemmett's house?"  "are they going into the jemmett's house?"
"go",  "go!"  "go!!"
okay.   i admit i.m slow.   slow to recognize inspiration.  promptings.  whatever name you want to call it.   always questioning myself.  why me?  not me!  but when it moves from a soft voice in my head to a yell in my heart,   i listen.
the car went right.
i slowly drove by the house.  all the bodies had disappeared through the front door.
"now what?" the voice inside my head snapped at the voice inside my heart.
"you can't just run in there."  "who knows what might be wrong."   "you're just being nosey."
"run in!" the heart voice firmly replied.
instead, i ran to the door of the closest neighbor.  a good friend.
i told her of the lights.   the urgent bodies running.   the insistent nudgings inside me.
just then a phone call came through to her house.  a voice.  panicked.  unrecognizable.  "help!"  "please help!"
"run chrissy" she called.
i ran.
the scene inside was chaos.
little 4 yr. old zane lay motionless on the hard wood floor.  firefighters anxiously working on his tiny body.   i grabbed his mom and held her.  i held her close.  i held her tight.
time stood still.
i remember the 3 and 1/2 mile ride to the hospital.   me driving.   zane.s mom in my passenger seat.  the ambulance in front of us.
she kept saying over and over..."dear god.  not zane.  please!  not zane.  please don't take zane"
all i could do was wipe my tears. try to brave.  hold her hand and be there.
i knew i couldn't tell her it would be all right.
for somewhere deep inside, i knew it wasn't going to be.
the next 12 hours of my life were extremely personal.   extremely heart wrenching.   extremely spiritual.
full of the deepest kind of love and agony i.ve ever witnessed intertwined together.

little zane george jemmett went to heaven a year ago today.
to this day we still don't know why.  it was an unexplained death.  i have faith that there is a greater reason for his early departure, but for now, that.s all it is.....faith.
the end of his short mortal life brought life lessons to my family that will never be forgotten.
from his death, my family has learned to live more fully in love.
it.s a somber post today, but if you get just one thing from taking the time to read this far, my hope is this...
"hold the ones you love a bit tighter today.  life is precious."
we miss you zane!

January 25, 2010

...haphazard thoughts

when is the last time you tried to peel an orange in one loooong piece?
you should try it soon, it's very amusing.
 and your kids friends think you are the bomb if you can do this.

i.m 41 and back in school.   yes, college.  crazy, i know!
23 years is a ginormous pause for a brain to take
before thinking about algebra problems again.
run.  right now.  and tell all the new-fledged folks you know to finish their education while they are young and fresh and frisky.  if they wait, sometimes it.s too hard to find a duster long enough to reach into the farthest corners of your mind and clean out all those cobwebs.
if they don.t believe you, give them my number.

ok folks, here's the verdict on the whole wheat olive oil bread.

5 thumbs down
1 neutral thumb
1 thumb up

the up thumb was me of course.  tess (14) said it was tasteless but pretty, so i figure that fact alone should.ve, at least, given the lovely loaf another half neutral thumb right?
so...i won't be passing on the recipe to olive oil bread test #1 to you peeps anytime soon.
my remedy next time = honey
honey fixes everything!

January 22, 2010

...ahhh-live oil

today i whipped up a batch of bread dough made with olive oil.  this is something new for me.  i've often read about the wonderful benefits of olive oil and who can resist a crusty,warmly baked loaf of bread, torn and generously dipped into a worthy olive oil and balsamic vinegar...i can't.
i have never paired it with my freshly ground whole wheat however but they sound like perfect partners to me.

(my mom's old bosch bread mixer...at least 40 years old and counting)

but what makes an olive oil good?
did you know that olive oil is made only from green olives.
"Just like fine wine, the flavor, color, and consistency of olive oils vary. This is due to different olive varieties, location, and weather. The olive oils of some small producers are treated and priced just like fine vintage wines."
while i was home for the holidays my dad stocked me up with lots of aptera extra virgin olive oil.  friends of our family since my dad was in high school, import this wonderful oil straight  from the Greek island of Kriti (Crete) where olive oil production first began on Earth circa 3,500 B.C.
i love the fact that family farmers grow, harvest, "cul*ti*vate" and press this oil for their own use and then sell it to the local cooperative.
i used this oil in my dough today and cant wait to see how it turns out.

so, do any of you have a great olive oil that you can't live without?
p.s. my bread is baking now and smells heavenly!

January 21, 2010

...a thankful heart on thursday!

on this thursday i am thankful for...

* my very first piece of mail from austrailia.
with kangaroos on the stamp and everything.
my new dear friend cathy sent me this adorable surprise in the mail.
the card itself is a piece of artwork i tell ya, it's all collaged and funky fun.
the darling little packet tied in yellow string is the most clever thing ever.
you open it up and it's all these wonderfully positive messages to lift your spirits and put a smile across your face.

see what i mean?
i get the pleasure of meeting cathy next month in los gatos, california.
you can find the talented sweetheart right here!
thanks tinnie*girl!
also thankful today for...
* rain, because we rarely get it in arizona.
* umbrellas.
* healthy children who think it's great to play in the rain
without an umbrella.

* my sassy rain boots.
* a warm home for all my wet chicks to come home to.
* hot chocolate.

so, peeps what small blessing can you find to be thankful for this thursday?
rain or shine!

January 19, 2010

...what's in a name?

i love the name ann!  anyone i've ever met named ann has been really lovely.  my beautiful mom's name was ann.  my daughter tessa's middle name is ann.  my niece's name is ann.  my fed.ex lady's name is ann. (she's nice and leaves bones for my dog)  and now i have another reason to love the name ann. 
i met ann deakers in a yahoo group for an upcoming art retreat we are embarking on together in february.  she just happened to get my name for an apron swap we participated in.  (lucky me)  since then we have emailed and followed each others blogs and i can't wait to meet this dear soul in person.  yesterday i got a little surprise in the mail from her.  it was my apron!  it is amazing!  beautiful!  clever!  i can't believe the time and effort she put into sewing an apron for someone she has never met.  she is such an "ann"! (that's one of the best compliments in my book by the way)  anyone who sews or paints or designs jewelry or does any type of artful living for that matter will probably relate to my appreciation for her "handmade" gift of love.

my apron

she even took extra care to use my favorite colors.
orange, brown & turquoise

lovin the yo yo

my favorite part is the hand sewn word across the top
she even spelled like i do on my blog and it IS my word of the year!

thank you so very much ann!  you are a dear!  this apron truly makes me happy!  i hate to think of painting with this apron on.  now i need you to make me an "apron" to cover my "beautiful apron".

so, how many of you out there are apron wearers?


January 17, 2010

January 15, 2010

...for whole wheat lovers

i think it's the most fascinating thing that even when the kids don't eat all the bananas and they go brown in the basket and look very undesirable....you can still make something wonderful and yummy out of them.
i try to do all my baking with whole wheat flour.  warm.  straight from the grinder.  i also end up with a large amount of uneaten bananas at the end of the week.  i hadn't been able to find a recipe that i could use with 100% whole wheat that didn't dry up and fall into a heap of crumbs on the cutting board.
until a super good friend and wonderful healthy baker brought me a loaf of her banana bread and it was moist and soft and delicious.  (kid approved too!) i'm all about sharing so here ya go!
dar's amazingly moist whole wheat banana bread
* 1 stick of butter
* 1 cup of sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup mashed banana
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 4 Tbsp. sour cream
(fun hint..you can mix 1 tsp. vinegar in 1/4 cup milk & let stand for a few minutes and it works perfectly)
1  1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
mix sugar & butter.  add eggs, bananas, vanilla & sour cream.  mix well.  add flour, salt & baking soda together then add to mixture.
(you could add dates, nuts, etc...but then that voids the kid approval in my house so i don't)
bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 min.
(how do people get that little degree circle on their keypad?)

happy baking!

January 14, 2010

...a thankful heart on thursday!

on this thursday i am thankful for...

*   a perfect carton of blueberries from trader joe's.
*   the sweet elderly couple i saw eating ice cream cones together.
(my parents use to always do that..so cute)
*   the fact that i don't live in haiti.
 i made my whole family sit down last night and watch CNN together.
 i wanted them to see how blessed we are.
the broadcasting broke my heart.
i was so happy when more than one of my kiddos said..
"oh mom!  we have to do something!"
*   the hot bath i didn't have time to take, but did anyway.
*   a friend who actually valued my opinion
on what color to paint her kitchen.
*   prayer.

i hope you find something big or small to be grateful for today.

January 13, 2010

...save the arts

could you just eat up the smile on this freckle faced little girl?  guess what made her so happy?  she won an award in her school's art reflections program.  i am so grateful for this art program.  it's seems the arts in school are dying out.  quickly.  this makes me so sad.  i've never seen this sweet 10 year old be so proud of herself for a good grade in spelling (although i know it's important)  art is what builds her self esteem.  her confidence.  it helps her use her brain.  her creativity.  her art gives her value.
why would we want to diminish a venue that can bring children all of these wonderful attributes and more?

this is her winning piece.  she wanted to do a "mixed media" piece because non of her friends knew what one was.  i gave her a blank canvas.  sat her at my art table.  opened all my paints and papers and fibers and epherma and let her go wild.  the theme was beauty is.... she decided "beauty is nature"
i think beauty is folks who recognize how important the "arts" are in developing our little ones.  heck, we all benefit from valuable art programs.
how are the art programs in your part of the world?  what would you do to change them?

January 11, 2010

...back to the basics & a good day!

i'm a big believer in getting back to the basics.  my mom was a home economics teacher in the 50's, 60's & early seventies which meant as her only daughter, i had the blessing of being by her side and learning all the wonders of baking and cooking and sewing.
after my mom passed away 5 years ago, i took her wheat grinder and bosch bread mixer home to arizona with me.  i hadn't made bread from scratch in years.  i went and purchased some wheat from a local store and started on an adventure that has brought me much more than bread.
the aroma of that first batch of whole grain wheat that i ground, hit me like a tons of bricks.  i was a little girl again.  back in the kitchen of my childhood home.  my little apron around me.  pig tails.  freckles.  standing on a chair so i could see over the counter.  carefully pouring the wheat into the top of the old wooden grain mill and listening to it churn and crack.  i was always amazed when my mom would pull out the drawer at the bottom after the grinding slowed, that it was full of flour.  warm flour.  and it had such a peculiar smell.  i didn't realize until 30 or so years later, that it was one of the most wonderful, sweet smells in the world.     the tears flowed freely.

this was the smell of love.  it was the smell of comfort.  the smell of home.  it was my mom.
i really needed this experience at that point in my grieving for her.  it brought her to me in a way i never expected.  i would.ve ground wheat everyday the rest of my life for that feeling and for awhile...i did.  but my family couldn't keep up with all the loaves of bread i was putting forth and the neighbors all thought i was trying to poison them with as many loaves as i passed around the neighborhood each week.  so i resorted to making bread on sundays.   sunday is bread day at my home.

my newest obsession is to cul*ti*vate the art of "artisan" bread.  i am late on this trend i know.  but i wanted to learn how to make those beautiful free form loaves with whole grains, crusty on the outside with a dusting of flour and chewy and moist on the inside.  i picked up a new book called...


i made my first several loaves this weekend.  it was so much fun and if i do say so myself, i was quite impressed.  i feel like a success when all 5 of my children will ALL eat something i make without complaining.  then i know it's good.   i know it's a work in progress, like painting or writing poetry or learning to ride a bike but anytime i can slather up a hot piece of bread with real butter and feel my mom's spirit around me is a good day!

January 7, 2010

...a thankful heart on thursday

... so i started this little segment right after thanksgiving of last year in an effort to keep the spirit of gratitude alive in my life all year long.  i like the idea that the little things really are the big things in life sometimes.
have you ever met one of those people who become an "instant" friend?  you know, the type of girl (ok..or guy) you feel you've known forever?  it's such a cool experience.  my beautiful friend kolleen of heartwingsisters is one of those little blessings in my life.  talent, sass, style, good taste in music, creative, caring, good listener, good mama & wife, good friend and on and on...all in one amazing body.  that is kolleen.

she recently gave me this little award.  (i loved her before this i promise!)

i'm suppose to name 10 things i love at the moment,
 & then  pass it onto 10 blogs i love to visit.
since it's a thankful heart on thursday i'm going to combine the two ok?
ready, set, jump...

1. i love my amazing family.
2. i love meaningful conversations with friends who really care and listen.
3. i love that they have antibacterial wipes at the grocery stores for your nasty carts now.
4. i am loving this song i found by donavon frankenreiter called "beautiful day"...you're gonna love this one K!
5. i love seeing all 5 of my children bundled up and swooshing down the hills all together for the 1st time in 17 years.
6. i love this new sitcom my friends turned me on to last week. (because i don't watch t.v.)  it might say a lot about my sense of humor...yikes! so dang funny though.
7. i love the tetons in jackson hole, wyoming.
8. i love my new mac computer.
9. i love fingerless gloves, all chunky and knitted.
10. i loved the ENTIRE box of enstroms almond toffee from denver that i stole (from my dad) hid and ate over the holidays.
(okay, he actually KNEW i was going to eat the whole box, but i didn't share)

hmmm...im gonna start with 7 blogs i love right now
1. tangled sky studio beth phillips is a new artist i have come to LOVE.
2. heartwing sisters if you love music, you'll LOVE k's taste.  it rocks.
3. creating freespirit i LOVE everything about this gal.  gloria will make you smile!
4. the creative beast this girl is brave. no new clothes OR fabric in 2010? seriously?
5. kelly rae roberts duh!
6. tims sally wish you could actually hear miss mindy's voice in all it's southern yumminess and give her some love for being in the new issue of "cloth.paper.scissors" yippy! love ya mindy!
7. allison dayton best friend jewelry designer extraordinaire. why i jingle everywhere i go.

so thursday, there you have it.  lots of stuff to chew on.
peAcE yA'll

January 5, 2010

...in just a word!

...it seems as i scuttle around the blog world that the resonating buzz is choosing a word of the year.
i had the blessing of meeting the wonderful andrea scher this past fall at a be present retreat in manzanita, oregon (one of the most beautiful, peaceful places on earth)  she lead us in a little workshop that helped each of us to "unearth" our most precious hidden layers.  the end result was a list of the core values in our lives that make us who we are or who we ultimately want to be.
the exercise itself was an experience that on it's own deserves an entire blog post...which i promise to do very soon.  but the cliff notes are that i was paired with one of my art heros & inspirations...the amazing kelly rae roberts and that was one of the most memorable happenings of 2009 for me.  more on her and that little present later.

what i discovered on that retreat, in that class with andrea and in many experiences there with new found friends through art and photography and yoga and meditation...was my word.

as i was expressing to kelly rae all of the many things i value in my life, i realized that this word had been swirling around in my head for quite some time.   i tried to explain to her that to me, cul*ti*vate is a "verb".  to me, it is something i "do".  it is an action.  it is a word that encompasses all that i feel is important to me at this chapter in my life.  it is the means of taking my list of core values and preparing them, planting them, nuturing them, tending to them, watching them grow and then taking great care to see that i develop them.
this is my word.
it is my hope.
it is my drive.
(ironically, it's also my blog)
i love the idea of choosing a word.  i have a slight love affair with words.  (don't tell because it's quite dorky, but the dictionary is actually one of my favorite books to read)
as i mentioned many of my favorite blogs talk recently about the word of the year.
what is your word?  what does it mean to you?
you can peek into a little post that kelly rae wrote about our experience together in manzanita here.
(to find out "why" my word is painted on my body...check back soon. i promise i'll give you the sweet story.)

much love,

January 3, 2010

...a new decade!

as 2009 slipped quietly away a few nights ago and we LOUDLY welcomed 2010..(lots of slightly illegal fireworks accompany many gardner family celebrations)...i was so content.  excited even.  i don't think i've ever looked forward to a new year so much as i am this one. 
i believe that 2010 is going to bring so many wonderful opportunities, great growth, unselfish sharing, collaboration, growing new friendships and treasuring the old. 
i have new friends and one INVALUABLE OLD FRIEND in my life, amazingly talented friends, who have big dreams for 2010 and i can't wait to watch each of them, each of you, as you realize those goals and achieve your "mondo beyondo" dreams!
lots of etsy stores opening up, several magazine write-ups, poetry published, photographs bought, framed and hung, gallery showings, art shows, classes taught and taken, shirts, journals, stationary and jewelry being made with YOUR art work and worn across the country....and on and on and on.
i've got chills just writing the words!
it's like starting the best book in the world and wanting to skip to the last chapter to see how it all ends!
you go girls!
2010 here we come!