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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Seeing With New Eyes


For someone who loves to write, words sometimes seem not to exist. 

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who have sent such lovely, heartfelt notes. I can assure you that they have been read, and greatly appreciated.

It's interesting how the events of life can affect us. Over the last 5 months, I have come to realize that events that may have happened 40 years ago, can come back and teach us very important lessons about who we really are.  

Over the last 5 months, I have been confronted with things I could never have imagined. I have been shocked, brokenhearted, afraid, tormented, and angry. Just to give you an idea of what happened, back in November, I spoke with a friend who is an attorney, an attorney who felt he had heard everything, that is, until I told him my story. It was he who told me that I MUST report this person. He has since told me that in all his years, he has never been as shocked. 

When I made the report, I felt as though I was David going up against Goliath. Actually, that story gave me the mental strength I needed  to stand up. After the report was made, I had a sense of relief, like it was all over, but I really didn't expect what came later. As the weeks went on, and seemingly nothing being done, I grew all the more angry. But finally, just a little over a week ago, I learned that the situation was being handled as it should be. Without thinking, I told my husband that for the first time in months, I felt that I could breathe. When I said those words, I realized just how paralyzed, just how devastated I have felt. 

Life can be like an angry ocean, disturbed by a storm. One wave comes crashing in, and before you can pick yourself up, another comes crashing in on top of you, and then another, and another. Finally, I knew that I just had to be quiet for some time. 

A few weeks back, I spoke with a friend and told her that I had nothing to give. I was tired. In her very sweet manner, she encouraged me, softly, gently. She reminded me that my blog is entitled Rhonda's Creative Life. It's not just a sewing blog, or a cooking blog, or a writing blog, it's a blog about living a creative life. She said that while at the time, my naming the blog as I did may have seemed like a declaration, stepping out from the shadows and declaring that yes, my life is creative, she said that it was no accident. "Take it one step at a time, just post what is on your heart, one post at a time, and in time, your strength will return." She went on to tell me that from the messages she has read, she feels that I have no idea of the lives that I have touched. I hope that is true. 

Many of you may know that I am an early riser, usually up between 5 and 5:30 every morning. I love the early morning hours. I make a cup of tea, then make my way to my favorite spot in the house, and begin to write. What began years ago as a task has now become an integral part of my day. Without those early morning moments, when I am alone, where I can think, where I can cry, where I can find joy, my day is just not the same. And, it is there that I have found comfort, rest, and healing. It's there that I have begun to see myself with new eyes, or maybe...just a little more clearly. 

I love the mental image of a phoenix rising from the ashes. It's how I feel at the moment, burned wings, struggling to fly. Thank you again to all of you who stop by, who encourage. I know my wings will heal and that in time, I will fly again. 



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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Morning Inspiration/Grommets

It's a gray, snowy day, and I don't have to be anywhere!!! I LOVE days like this, winter's blanket all around, a nice cup of tea in a big mug, and a fire in the fireplace. Now, that's heaven :) Well, add one more thing to the mix, I get to sew all day...now that really does make it heaven!!! The only outdoor activity will be to take Gracie out for a hike. It would be a sin to not allow her to enjoy a snowy day.

I recently came across this detail on Pinterest. The jacket is from the Kenzo 2016 Fall collection. I love finding alternatives to using buttons, so this caught my eye. We are so fortunate now to have access to such fun alternative pieces. Grommets now come in lots of sizes and colors, so why not make use of them in our clothing designs?

   
Another fun piece from the same Kenzo collection. Love the top stitching!


Once I started clicking around, I found that Proenza Schouler used grommet details in their entire 2016 Fall Ready To Wear collection. While the designs may not be for everyone, I think they offer some great inspiration. 







This is also from the Kenzo 2016 Fall collection.


Thought this detail was rather interesting. The grommets are on a backpack. Love how they used a smaller grommet and threaded the elastic cord through it and then through the button. Great detail!


We saw this detail when we were taking a look at pant designs, but I thought it was worth repeating.


So, the next time you visit the fabric store, be sure to head over to the Home Dec section and check out the grommets. Like I said, there are lots of colors and sizes, so the sky is the limit as far as design is concerned. If you want a specific color, you can always head over to the auto parts store and pick up some paint and paint the grommet to match your fabric!

Have a wonderfully creative week!
Rhonda   



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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Wednesday Showcase

A few nights ago, I watched a fascinating documentary on the Public Broadcasting network entitled, "Unrest." It's the story of filmmaker Jennifer Brea's struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome. For quite some time, she had been told that there was nothing wrong. She went online and found that there are many all over the world who struggle as she does. It was shocking to see how some have been treated in other countries. Many think that it is all in the patient's mind, and so should be treated for mental illness. 

Jennifer shows what her life was like prior to chronic fatigue, and then documents her life now, as well as the life of so many around the world. For her, it all began when she had a very high temperature, over 104 degrees. From that moment on, her life has never been the same. 

As I watched, I thought about the word tomorrow. We put too many things off until tomorrow, a day that does not exist. I highly recommend the documentary. It's streaming now on the PBS Independent Lens site, but only until January 23, 2018. You can find it HERE

I had intended to continue with the Wednesday Showcase 2017 roundup today, but I thought that you might be interested in something a little different. 

You may remember that I gave away 3 little sewing caddies during my birthday week. All 3 ladies have written and told me how much they appreciate their new little toys :) Joy of Joyful Expressions sent a picture of her sewing caddy already in use. You can see her lovely studio in the background. She said that she has ordered a pack of 12 plastic frames and will be making them for all of her sewing friends. Lucky friends!!!


If by chance you haven't checked out Joy's blog, be sure to pop over. She does lots of videos, and she always has a story to tell. 

If by chance you missed the tutorial on how to make the sewing caddy, you can find it HERE along with a video. 


During the Christmas holidays, I was out doing a little shopping. I stopped at a light, looked over, and to my surprise, I saw a sewing studio that I didn't even know existed.  


The studio offers classes for adults and children. They also offer parties for adults and children. The picture below if from a birthday party. What fun!


If you are in the Chicago area and looking for a fun place to meet up with some friends and do a little sewing, take a class, or participate in a little crafting, be sure to check out Sew Crafty Studio. They are located on the corner of Clybourn and Ashland in Chicago.  

Maybe a month ago or so, I came across this picture on Facebook. Pretty eye catching!!!


Intrigued, I decided to do a google search. Sew Houston is owned by Yolanda, a previous middle school English teacher. She has had a passion for sewing since she was a child, and always dreamed of having a sewing business. 



At Sew, she offers classes for adults and children, as well as parties. Her motto is, "Creativity never goes out of style." 

Sew Houston is located on the northwest side of town, just off of Hwy. 290. 

I never thought I would see the day that sewing studios would start popping up. Remember though, to keep them in business, we need to get the word out, and use their facilities. 

If you know of other sewing studios in any part of the world, I would love to showcase them. Many of you may be just like me and have no idea that something exists right in your own city. Just leave a message below.  

I thought I would leave you with this today;


Tomorrow

A mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation, and achievement is stored. 



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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fabric Fun

I was born in Port Arthur, Texas, a refinery town on the Gulf Coast. The first 5 years of my life were spent there, and it was rather magical as I saw my grandmother on a very regular basis. Then heartbreak, we moved away. We weren't that far away, but far enough that our visits were reduced to no more than 3 times per year. 

The night before we would leave to travel back, I would be so excited that I just could not go to sleep. I thought of how my grandmother's house smelled, the biscuits that she would make each morning for breakfast, hanging the fresh laundry on the line, and then bringing the crisp linens in and heating up her massive iron and ironing sheets, pillowcases, as well as our clothes. Everything smelled of fresh starch. Hardly Disney World, but it was all I needed. 

Our trip would come and go far too fast. As the car was packed, a big pit would form in my stomach, and then when I was told that it was time to leave, a flood of tears would poor from my eyes. My poor grandmother could not contain her tears either. My departing memories were always remembered through the fog of tears. 

Over the weekend, some friends came to visit. Their oldest daughter who just turned 5, is a bundle of energy. I soon became her best friend. We cooked together, played hide and seek, went sledding, and played make believe, As they prepared to leave yesterday morning, the tears began to pool in her eyes. What a gift that was given to me. A little child who enjoyed me so much that she cried upon her departure. As I watched them drive away, I did my best to hold on to the moment. No gift could have been sweeter.
     
A few weeks back, I shared that my husband took me to Madison, WI for my birthday. When I visit, I buy cheese, visit a bakery where I buy fresh from the oven bread, and most importantly, visit Gayfeather Fabrics. 

The store is located in a vintage building on Williamson Street with awnings over the front windows. 


The owner is Virginia, pictured on the left below. This woman has the most incredible sense for great fabric. When I visit, after saying hello and getting a great big hug, my first question is always, "so, what do I need to see?"  


On this recent visit, she asked me what had brought me to town and I told her that my birthday was the day before and this was my birthday trip. Her eyes grew large as though she was about to spill a big secret and she said, "Then you will get the birthday discount on whatever you purchase. The percent is half your age." As I quickly did the math in my head, I smiled and said, "Virginia, that's going to be a fairly big number!!!" Needless to say, I had a VERY good time :)

So here's what I purchased...

Sadly, my photographic skills are rather lacking as the colors are not as vibrant as they are in real life.
This piece is a chocolate brown wool that has been embroidered and appliqued with chartreuse green velvet flowers.


Virginia had started a jacket with the fabric and was trimming it with the silk velvet, so of course I have to as well ;) She also had a piece of light chartreuse green wool for pants and a matching silk charmeuse for a shell.


I fell in love with this panel print. It too is wool. 


I purchased a piece of silk velvet in eggplant to mix with the fabric.


And finally, I just couldn't resist this piece. It's a silk and cotton blend that has been quilted on to the backing fabric. She only had a 1 yard remnant left, but it's quite wide so plenty to do something fun.


If you are anywhere near Madison, I encourage you to plan a visit for your birthday. Here are all the particulars...


Gayfeather Fabrics is located at;
1521 Williamson St.
Madison, WI   

If you do visit, be sure to ask Virginia to show you something special, and she will!

Now to get busy sewing!!!

At the moment, I need to finish up my Stephen Burrows inspired coat. 





You'll be seeing it soon :)

Happy Sewing!
 Rhonda



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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sunday's Soup...On Wednesday! Get Healthy One Step at a Time

For years, I had a membership to a gym, and I always found it interesting that come the first week of January, it would suddenly be packed with people. And then sure enough, by the end of January, the crowds once again thinned, and within a few more weeks, everything was back to normal. 

I ultimately gave up my gym membership as I much prefer to just be outside. I love walking out my front door and having my gym laid out in front of me. Nothing better than a vigorous morning walk :) My niece feels the same way. Rather than a formal gym membership, she bikes to work everyday...even in the winter!!! And remember, that's Chicago winter :/ We both enjoy incorporating exercise into our daily routine. More often than not, I grab a bag and walk to the grocery store. And then there's Gracie, my built in exercise motivator ;) I do attend yoga classes, but that's as formal as it gets for me.

So yes, this is the time of year that many make a resolution to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more and so on. I think that a part of the problem though is that rather than setting healthy, easy to attain goals, so many try to do too much too fast. Shows like the Biggest Loser where people drop lots and lots of weight in a short amount of time are just not realistic. 

I wanted to post this recipe today because, number 1, it's SOOOO easy to make. And number 2, since it's so easy, it's something that you can quickly whip up, have on hand. A nice easy step toward a little more of a healthier lifestyle.

Over the holidays, our niece and her husband invited us to come for dinner. Her husband is a marvelous cook. If he invites, I'm there!!! And what's so very nice is that he always makes an entirely vegetarian meal for me. 

On this visit, he had made a broccoli soup. It was so very good, and I was surprised by how simple it was to make.

Begin with 6 crowns of broccoli, about 3 pounds. Place them in a large pot. Add water for boiling along with about 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Chop 6 green onions and add to the broccoli.

  
Boil the broccoli until tender, 10-15 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the pot, and reserve the water. Place broccoli in a blender. It's quite a bit of broccoli, so you will need to do it in batches. Blend until pureed.

Add the reserved salted water to the broccoli until soup is desired consistency. And that's it!!! How much easier does it get??? Broccoli, green onions, water, and salt. And it's delicious!


I added crumbles of feta cheese to my soup for a little protein, and lots of black pepper. I LOVE pepper :)


Broccoli is packed full of vitamins. It's especially great at this time of year when colds are lurking around every corner. And with this soup, you are getting mega doses of all those wonderful vitamins that love to attack colds. Kinda like creating your own little war in your belly ;)  The title of this soup is going to be War of the Worlds Broccoli Soup. On Sunday, I'll have another fun recipe for you and I'll have the link up then for a printable recipe of the War of The Worlds Broccoli Soup. 

But don't wait until Sunday to make the soup. Make it now!!! 
Actually, anytime will be fine :) But if you like broccoli, I think you'll love the soup. Oh, and it freezes well too. So make plenty and then store in small containers for an easy lunch.
Enjoy!
Rhonda



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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Wednesday Showcase 2017 Hall of Fame Part 1

Wouldn't it be lovely if everyone could experience one Oscar Winning moment in their lives? A few moments where a huge audience applauds you for a fabulous accomplishment. Most of us will never experience a true Oscar winning moment, but hopefully there will be a few times in our lives where someone takes a moment to say, "Wow, what an incredible job you did!"

For my birthday, my husband took me to Madison,WI. I know that may seem a little strange to many, but I absolutely LOVE Madison. Not once have I had a bad meal, in fact, every restaurant I've tried has had an amazing dish. There is a small theater just off the capitol square called The Bartell. I have loved every play that I have seen there. And what's interesting to me is that I see plays there before they come to Chicago! Fortunately, we were able to see the play that ran in December. It was entitled, Twilight of the Golds. A very thought provoking play about decisions we must now make with the advancements in technology as well as medicine. Not a Christmas story by any stretch of the imagination. It was a very cold night, and the university had already let the students out for their Christmas break, so things were rather quiet. The theater was even quieter as there were only 7 people in the audience. When the play ended, I went up to the director and told her how much I enjoyed the play and added, "we came from Chicago to see the play and it was well worth the drive."(It's a 3 hour drive to Madison from Chicago) Her mouth dropped open, and her eyes grew large. All she could do was udder a quiet thank you. As I walked away, I realized that I could not have given her, as well as the cast a better compliment. A teeny tiny Oscar moment :)

With the beginning of the new year, I like to go back and once again showcase all the lovely bloggers whom we've visited this past year. I like taking the time to say thank you for all you do to add a little extra spice to our lovely world of sewing, fashion, and inspiration. 

2017 began with Nikki of Pin, Cut Sew. She's a mom to 3 very active children, and I have no idea how she does all she does! Since we visited with her last January, she has added a few fun things to her blog. She continues to inspire and encourage all who come in contact with her. 



We also met Beth of Sew DIY. She has a brand new pattern out, and is once again offering a FREE printable 2018 Sewing Calendar. The calendar is a wonderful way to stay organized and motivated. You can download it HERE. Be sure to take a few moments to say thank you!!! Her new pattern, the Lou Box Dress is the perfect casual wear weekend outfit. You can find links to all of her patterns on her blog.


  
Next up was Dana of Deedle and Thread. She not only loves to sew, she also makes the most beautiful pieces of jewelry to compliment her wardrobe. 



We were inspired by Londa of Londa's Creative Threads. She is passionate about sewing and love's nothing more than to share her knowledge. In fact, since we met her, she has begun to offer sewing classes as a fun, birthday party experience. Such a great idea!!! Londa was also featured in a recent issue of Altered Couture. You can read more about it HERE. The garment on the right below is the before picture, and the after you can see in the magazine. Beautiful! 


We traveled to New Jersey and met the super sweet Tomasa of Sew Much Fashion. You may remember her incredibly beautifully fitted pants that she made using the Joyce Murphy pant fitting system. You can read her posts on pant fitting HERE, and HERE


Eli Cat of Cat In a Wardrobe, was so much fun to meet, Not only does she love to sew, she has an incredible fashion sense. So her blog is like a sewing and fashion blog all rolled into one! Be sure to pop by and see some of her more recent makes. 


Rather than overload you with the entire year of showcased bloggers, we'll stop here. BTW, that was only January!!! Amazing! I'll be back next week with more from last year that you may have missed. 

If by chance you have a blog, let me know. I would love to see what you do, and showcase your work in 2018 :)

Happy Wednesday!
Rhonda



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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A New Resolve

A cheery Happy New Year from the frozen tundra of Chicago! Rather than my usual 'Good Morning!' greeting this morning, my husband asked, "What is the temperature?" I had not looked, I knew it was cold, but I had already turned up the heat, the house was nice and warm. That's all that mattered to me. So, I pulled out my phone, took a look, yikes!!!, -6 degrees. Now, that's cold! I rather enjoy it though. Yes, it's cold, but I wear LOTS of layers, a mask on my face, a nice warm hat, and I'm good to go :) 

I was very quiet the last few weeks of December. It's such a busy time of year, and having one more distraction from me, I felt, was something you could do without. But, my decision to be quiet was also very much for me. The situation I somewhat told you about in THIS post took quite the mental toll on me. I broke out in a horrible rash all over my chest and down to my waist, had a nasty headache that I just couldn't shake for over a week, and a painful backache. Thankfully, I was able to see my massage therapist 2 weeks in a row, she worked her magic, and my back is feeling so much better. The headache finally subsided, and the rash is healing.

But there was the mental toll as well, which is obvious from all of the physical issues that cropped up. There have been the questions we always ask when someone harms us, especially someone we have grown to care for...and someone who portrays themselves as being a person of great integrity. A friend of mine who is a physiologist, gave me some wonderful advice, to allow myself to feel what I felt. She said that I had a right to be angry, afraid, concerned. In the quiet of the past few weeks, I have allowed myself to feel it all. To say I'm not somewhat angry still would be a lie, I am. Time does heal wounds, and I know that in time I will be able to forgive. But something that I have learned about forgiveness is that it doesn't mean you forget, or even that you should try and forget. The memory is there for a reason, it reminds us of what happened, and helps us be a little wiser as we continue along the path of our lives.

This is the time of year that many of us begin to think of resolutions for the new year. As I thought more and more about resolutions, it occurred to me that a resolution is really quite different from a goal. A firm decision to do or not do something. A goal is something we strive to do, strive to accomplish.

As I thought about a resolution, it came to me that I want to live my life with more intent, to approach my days with my eyes wide open. I want to see the miracles that are constantly happening all around me, those things that can be so easily missed as we rush through our days.   

My husband came down with a very bad cold over Christmas. I had to cancel our annual Christmas Eve dinner, as well our Christmas day festivities. So, I spent a good bit of time alone. On Christmas day, I went to mass alone. As I sat there, I thought of my resolve to pay attention, and I allowed myself to feel the sadness of being alone. And then I thought of a very sweet lady who lost her husband this past year. I thought of her spending her first Christmas without her husband, the sadness that she must be feeling, and I said a prayer for her. I also said thank you for the gift of still having my husband to go home to.

The next evening, I took Gracie for a walk. The snow was lightly falling, and I knew that she would be so happy. This is her kind of weather! As we walked along, I enjoyed the spectacular show of lights twinkling from the houses, and felt their warm glow on my face. Then I came upon an apartment building, and I could hear a piano being played, beautiful music floating out into the night. I stopped on the sidewalk below and enjoyed my very own private concert. With snow falling on my face, and whiteness all around, I realized that I could not ask for a more beautiful concert hall. 

To help me stay focused, I began a new journal. In the evening I have been sitting down and reflecting on the day, the miracles of that day. Even the tiny moments like when I can't find my glasses and I silently say, "Lord help me," then suddenly they appear. Coincidence, maybe, but I prefer to see it as a gift :)

The events of the past months that brought so much mental turmoil, have also brought gifts. My husband who from the very beginning said, "this is not your fault." For the first time in my life I experienced what it is like to have someone defend me and fight for me. There were the friends who came to my defense and those who lovingly counseled me. 

It may sound strange to say, but I am grateful for the events of the past months. By no means does it excuse the behavior of the person, or the mental turmoil it has caused. What I am grateful for where it is all taking me. The quiet I feel in my spirit.

Happy New Year!
May you too find joy, peace and quiet in this new beginning.



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