Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Tis the Season

Somewhere near Woodland Park and Divide, CO
I blog in my head all the time. Obviously, what's in my head rarely makes it here. When I began blogging, it was a fun challenge. I had other friends doing it, who encouraged me to join in the fun. You're jumping off the cliff into a lake? Sure, I'll do it (am suddenly hearing my mother's voice in my head). Seriously, it's not that I'm a follow-the-crowd sort of person. Quite the contrary, I'm generally a day late and a dollar short when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon of what's 'in'. I did want a place to chronicle my knitting, if for no one but myself, and to keep up with my knitting accomplishments (clearly little, it would seem). It's also a good means of sharing what's going on in the family with family, except no one in my family actually reads my blog. C'est la vie.
My early blog posts embarrass me. I've shared that before, but feel it bears repeating. As I began to write better (not saying 'good', but better, so don't think I'm bragging, please), it had an upside and a downside. The upside is obviously better blog posts. Comments and compliments I've received are another upside....and a downside. As I received comments or e-mails complimenting me, I suddenly felt pressure to perform. I consider myself a discouraged perfectionist. I am a perfectionist, but I'm also lazy. If I don't feel up to putting in the time and effort to do something 'just so', I don't bother to do anything at all (it shows, in the state of my house). I began feeling like I had to really "write". I couldn't risk those who complimented me regretting they'd done so. Arg, the pressures I put on myself!
I can hear you now (the maybe two readers left who've not unsubscribed to my blog feed), GET OVER YOURSELF! You're right, I should, and I am, by golly! I'm going to write when I feel like it, and say what I feel like saying, and if no one reads but me, so be it. I was reading a friend's blog, Grey-Haired Geek, recently, and I knew Kel was describing exactly as I felt, only she said it so much better than me.
"I’m resurrecting my blog, with a difference.
As a beginner, I used a “Masterpiece of the Month” approach to blogging. I spent a lot of time getting each entry “just right”, so I didn’t blog very often. Unfortunately, I’m one of those “If I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all” kind of people
Kel, I hope you don't mind me quoting you. If you don't, then, thank you! If you do, then oops!
Roasted vine-ripened tomatoes topped with thick slices of fresh water-packed mozzarella, drizzled with balsamic vinegar glaze, and sprinkled with rock salt; Sweet potato soup; and a really good wine. Fresh baked ciabatta bread not in picture
Mr. Studley and I visited our daughter in Colorado Springs, for Thanksgiving. For you who remember she was living in England, she's back in the states as of this past fall. I love that she's had the experience of living in European countries, but as a mom, I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know she's back on American soil (at least for now). Not that I have anything against foreign soil, but I like knowing she's within a day or so drive, or a short plane trip away, in the event that she should need her family. The food shown above was only one of the many fantastic meals prepared for us during our time spent there. We were treated like royalty on our visit.

One of the ladies restrooms in the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO. No paper towels or hand blow-dryers here. Baskets laden with fresh, white cloths were provided for hand drying/face washing. A large basket sat below the sink for tossing cloths when finished using. Classy, eh?
Mr. Studley and I toured the Broadmoor Hotel one afternoon while in Colorado Springs. Fabulous doesn't describe that place. It would take a long string of adjectives, and then wouldn't do it justice. Seeing is believing. It's massive, it's opulent, it's old world, it's elegant. It's so many things. The rooms range from $275-$2,000 per night, a little rich for our blood. I hear they do have a special rate/package around Valentine's Day. Maybe some day. We thoroughly enjoyed walking about the place, snapping pictures, ooing and ahhing, with mouths gaping. When I go into a place such as that, I tend to feel like a country bumpkin. I get intimidated, feeling surrounded by people who are clearly in a different social class than me. What surprised me was the genuine niceness of the hotel staff. From those who park your car (free valet parking for those there just to look around), to those who hold open the door, to the hotel guest clerk, to anyone with an employee tag who makes eye-contact with you, they bent over backwards to be exceedingly nice. If you're ever visiting the Colorado Springs area, I strongly urge you to take a gander around the Broadmoor Hotel!

This was Leyna, our last night at Nikki's house. I suspect she knew we were leaving, and was already missing all that extra loving and play she gets from Nikki, who adores her almost as much as I do.
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Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
~Philippians 4:4-5 The Message

Friday, July 23, 2010

When Left To My Own Devices

Mr. Studley's been out of town this week. When he's away, I get lonely and bored. When I'm lonely and bored, I tend to eat...too much. It's a bad habit which should come with a Surgeon General's warning.
Yesterday, I baked the Muffins That Taste Like Donuts recipe from Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen. Where have these things been all my life? The recipe is so simple, you can hardly call it cooking. The ingredients are something most of us have on hand at any given time. I baked these early yesterday evening and had two for dessert after dinner. At such time as you see above on my kitchen clock (I'm a night owl), I caved, and had to have three more. I had milk rather than coffee with them. I took that picture this morning. In my defense, these weren't full sized muffins. They were more like mini-me muffins. I used a mini-muffin pan. If I bake them that way again, I'll pick up some more mini-muffin pans, as I had to bake them in three batches.
Incidentally, my kitchen walls are not that pukish pinkish peachish color they appear in the clock photo, but are actually a pleasant pale yellow. You can see why I try and take most of my pictures outside in daylight, but that doesn't work when I'm binging on muffins that taste like donuts in the middle of the night.

They just kept calling my name. Renna....Renna...come eat us....and so I did.

And I had them again for breakfast this morning.

Oh, ick. I just realized my coffee looks as funky as my wall color. I can't even come up with a name for that color. Suffice it to say, that's not what color it was.
On the knitting front, I'm still cranking out dishcloths. I should take them outside and photograph them, but 100 degree weather and I are not friends. I need to be knitting a baby gift and a pair of socks for my mom for her upcoming birthday. Clearly, I lack self-discipline. Too often, I eat what I want when I shouldn't, and knit what I want when I should be knitting something else.
Speaking of knitting, A Friend to Knit With is having a giveaway. She's giving away a copy of Debbie Bliss' Design It, Knit It: Babies. All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment between now and Monday the 26th at 12 pm EST. Posting about it on your blog is not a requirement. I just want you knitters to have a chance at winning. The book has such adorable patterns in it.
I want to thank everyone for the nice comments on my last post. I guess misery does love company, as it was somehow comforting to me to see that others of you have similar feelings of 'blahness'. I say, blah-dee-dah to those blahs. I'm going to enjoy my weekend. How about you?
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I think I need to meditate on 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.
I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
~the Message
Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.
But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].
~Amplified Bible

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I love old pictures, whether I'm in them or not. I do happen to be in this one. That would be me in the center, the one looking very bashful. That's because I was...very bashful. Now that I'm an adult (ahem), I refer to myself as 'shy'. Same meaning, just a more grown-up sounding word. I'm nowhere near as bashful now, er shy, as I was as a youngster. I find that the more I learn of my worth to God, the more worthy I feel. With that worth comes confidence. That said, I'll never be the extrovert life of the party, but I'm doing better at holding my own these days.

Speaking of these days, my life seems rather slow lately, and yet time is flying by at warp speed. I hear different ones speak of their 'summer plans'. Usually it revolves around that time between when their kids get out of school and when they return in the fall. With my kids grown and living their own lives, I miss those punctuations of summer. One day seems to roll into the next, one season into another.
I'm feeling like life is standing still. My energy is lagging. My desire to create is still in place, but lacking it's previous passion. Things that used to excite me seem bland; whether it's going out with friends, knitting, reading, etc., I can't seem to strike up a genuine interest. It's not that I'm depressed, per se, and have never been one prone to depression. I'm not really sure what's wrong with me. Does the 'change of life' cause these feelings, I wonder? I'm there, for certain. My life is changing.

Okay, enough of that.
Our family went camping last month in the Lake Ouashita State Park, in Arkansas, our second year in a row to do so. It was a beautiful campground, and the lake water is as clear as any I've ever seen. Mr. Studley's kids and their families all joined us, as well as Nikki, who flew in from England (again, twice in two months!). She spent her two week vacation with us, or "holiday", as they say in the UK. Everyone camped in tents by the water except for Mr. S and I, who stayed in our lovely air-conditioned travel trailer. Let me tell you, it was H.O.T while we were there. I spent more time indoors with the a/c than outside with the kids and grandkids. That kind of heat is for the young, not for mid-life, hot-flash stage, women such as myself. Heat aside, we did have a blast, and it was so nice having Nikki there with us this year.

I've done little knitting in recent weeks, with the exception of dishcloths. I love the Waffle Knit pattern found at Homespun Living, and I am really liking knitting them in Sugar'n'Cream cotton self-striping yarn. I wish I had a picture to share with you. I have some blocking now, and will hopefully take some pics in the next couple of days. The aqua colors are my favorite. They remind me of the ocean, with the layers of blue.
Speaking of the ocean, I think that's where I'd like to be. Cool ocean water lapping at my toes. Sounds dreamy. Summer has come early for us this year. June was terribly hot. We had a fairly decent beginning of July, but now the heat and humidity that we're known for has arrived full force, forcing the commencement of my hibernation indoors in air-conditioning (and I thank God we have it). Maybe that's why I'm feeling melancholy. Maybe it's cabin fever. I wish. I wish I were in a cabin on a mountain, or by an ocean.
Clearly, I'm rambling. I think I better stop before someone tips off the men in the clean white coats. Speaking of which, who's old enough to remember that 60's song, "They're Coming To Take Me Away"? I was about ten when that song came out. My older brother and I probably drove our poor mother nuts singing it over and over. Good times. Younger times of days gone by. Speaking of which, this day has gone by. It's the wee AM hours of Sunday, and I'd best be making my way to my comfy bed. Maybe the overhead fan will prompt me to dream of lying on a sandy beach with cool ocean breezes. Pass me a Mai Tai and some sunscreen, please. That would be loverly.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
~Matthew 11:28-30 the Message

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Issues of the Heart

Baby Moccasins by Whitney Van Nes raveled here

I know it seems I've given up on my blog. I hope I haven't. I don't want to give it up, but I can't seem to make myself sit down and write anymore. Could I have run out of anything to say? I talk to myself all the time, but even I haven't found myself all that interesting lately.

John & Nikki, waiting for her flight at DFW, to fly home to England

Thinking back to when I first began writing this blog, I didn't have much to say then, either. In fact, when I read my earlier posts, I cringe with embarrassment at the things I rambled on about. Stupid stuff, really, really dumb stuff, like my dog's favorite toy. Did I seriously think anyone would find that of interest? Not likely, but I think I had to find my voice. It took me awhile, but I was getting there about the time I stopped writing. Now, I'm out of the practice of blogging and it seems I am once again in search of my voice. Don't worry, there'll be no more posts about my dog's favorite toys. Dog pictures are a different story.

Since I last wrote, we've had more than our share of heart issues in our household. Leyna, my beloved little Min Pin contracted heart worms. The reason? I didn't have her on regular heartworm meds. I honestly wasn't aware of how serious the risk was. The vet said she likely got them last fall. It was a rough and painful experience. One week at the vet's, five more weeks of being crated, six weeks of not getting walked or being allowed to play, and $550 in expense kind of rough. Heart worms are a serious threat to your dog's health, and according to my vet, all states now face that threat. I'm happy to say that Leyna seems to be fully recovered, and will now always receive her regular heartworm preventive meds.

The other heart issue was in the form of Mr.Studley's mitral valve needing to be repaired. When he went in for the surgery, we knew there was a chance it would have to be replaced. Being repaired is a much better option for the patient, but not always possible. Fortunately for us, his surgeon has a 95% success rate at being able to repair damaged valves. We know God directed us to him. Mr. S came through the procedure with flying colors. Other than a smallish sideways V scar on his right breast, there's little evidence that he went through such a surgery. And might I just say that the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas is AWESOME! Seriously, if a person must have a heart procedure done, then that's the place to do it. The hospital is designed like a hotel, a 5 star hotel at that. Patients are considered guests, and their 'rooms' are 'suites'. Patients go directly from recovery to their suite, where family members are allowed to join them shortly after. No limited visits in an ICU room, like in most hospitals. Their room, or I should say suite is their ICU. The suite includes a comfortable area for family members to be there with them, around the clock if they desire. I could go on for paragraphs about that hospital, it was that impressive.

Mike & Nikki, as we were leaving the hospital

So, as you can see, we've had a bit of out-of-the-ordinary going on around here in the past few months. My daughter, Nikki, did fly home from England for the week of her dad's surgery. We rented a hotel adjacent to the hospital. My son also took off work that week and joined us. We had a lot of fun, and they kept me laughing almost nonstop. I had complete peace about Mr.Studley. I knew He was in God's protective hands.

I'll be back. Really, I will.

Nikki and Leyna, summer 2010

For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

~Romans 12:3 Amplified Bible

Monday, February 1, 2010

The prodigal...daughter?

I've started a new post a many times in my mind the past few (several?) months. Have you ever put off doing something, you knew needed doing, so long it reached the point where finally doing it would garrishly spotlight the depths of your ability to procrastinate? Rather than face the embarrassment of having that ugly truth publicly revealed about yourself, it becomes simpler to just never do that thing. No? I have.

That 'thing' for me has been to write a new post on my blog. It's embarrassing, because many of you have either written me, or posted concerned comments for my welfare. I seemingly blatantly ignored you. I'm probably not even writing this to you, because, no doubt, you've long since written me off as a blog flake, a name I deserve.

I've thought of a hundred things I'd like to post about here, in recent months, but have always been stopped from doing so by knowing I had to first write a re-entry post. I apologize to you who I ignored. I have no excuse, other than that I am a clout. God's working on me. I really am sorry.

Okay, moving on, as Mr.Studley says when things are getting bogged down. I need to find a place of balance in blogging, in both reading and writing. When receiving comments to my blog posts, I have always felt a responsibility to then go and comment on my commentor's blogs. Not to say all my comments on others' blogs have been done in a dutiful sense, but yes, that's what initially begins my commenting there. As I gained readers (and commentors), the number of blogs I was visiting and commenting on, grew. Add to that, the blogs I read and enjoyed who have never (to my knowledge) even visited my blog (mostly knitting blogs), and much of my day was spent blog reading, and commenting.

I was on overload. Try as I might, I could not find a happy balance. Many times, I tried eliminating blogs I read, but there were so few I could cut out, as I enjoyed them all so much. I like peeking into your lives, getting to know you, but I finally reached that point where I couldn't do it all, so therefore I did nothing. I know this may all seem a bit overly dramatic to some, who may even be thinking I need to just 'get over myself'. It's not like I'm even a big-time blogger who gets dozens of comments per day (hardly); but it's been a struggle for me, nonetheless.

Returning here doesn't mean I've figured out what to do about it. Rather, that I've missed you guys, sharing with you here, and reading what you share. I've started reading blogs again (in Google Reader), just not commenting. I'll be seeking to find that happy balance, which shouldn't be too hard, since my readers have probably dropped down to one or two by now. ;-)
As to knitting, I pretty much backed off it about the same time I quit blogging. I did pick up my needles again during the holiday season, making a few small gifts, most of which I forgot to photograph. I do have a few pictures, though, which I'll be sharing here soon.

It already feels good to be back. :-)

Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.
~1 Peter 5:5 (American Standard Version)