Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life On The Beach...Preparing for Croatia

The Reaneys (i.e. Jud and Suz) were getting a little too fluffy for their own good so they started the South Beach Diet about a month and a half ago. South Beach is a diet that focuses on vegetables,  fruits and lean meats. During the first two weeks, you are totally without any sugar or fruit sugar but after that you gradually add in fruit and carbohydrates. I have a terrible sugar craving so I found this very helpful. 

We are off to Croatia very soon (less than two weeks now) for the wedding of our exchange student son, Petar, and wanted to look kind of like we did the last time we were there! We have been successful. We have each lost about fifteen pounds (trust me, that is not where we need to be!). We both had to buy some new clothes (which is always fun!). Hopefully we will not gain it back in Prague, which is the first leg of the trip for Jud and me.

Slim Kat did not loose any weight (thank God) but has enjoyed eating all of the fresh fruits and vegetables. She could use some nice European pastries! She will be joining us on the second leg of the trip in Riejka, Croatia, where we will be having a grand reunion with Petar, Jelena, Zrinka, Ana, Igor and Sven and Ema, who are "new" since we were there. We are all thrilled to be going and will write some blogs there with what I am sure will be beautiful pictures.

Croatia is a gorgeous country, with hills and valleys and seaside and medieval castles and monasteries. We had a fantastic trip there eight years ago and highly recommend it for a vacation. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Committee of Mothers

Over the river and through the woods went The Committee of Mothers, to attend the shower for one of our special daughter-in-law's. What is The Committee of Mothers, you ask? Here is a bit of the story...we all were plagued with Wild Feral Children and it took a whole committee to raise them! 

We live in a neighborhood that is placed between two cities and functions like a small town. These are my neighbor ladies, and like a good neighbor, each has been charged to watch over each other's children for the last twenty-five years! 

On the way to our dear friend's house, we ran into a small town festival parade and the Dixieland Pick-Up Band. What a great start!

The party was for a dear baby named Dot. Isn't that a precious name? The cake was covered with dots and there were Dot sparkles on the table and Dots on the balloons.

Julie and Carol, Committee members, dished up salads...

...while Committee members, Mary and Becky, and Mary's daughter, Carrie, in the middle, shared a celebratory beverage. 

The is the beautiful baby-mommy, Jill, who is  getting a hug from Committee member, Julie.

This is the "Queen Mother," Barbara, with  Dot, a gorgeous and adorable baby. Barb knows a LOT about babies!

We ate a delicious salad lunch...

...and all got a chance to hold the child to hold the baby...

...and then ate the cake, which I enjoyed very much. Here I am, breaking my diet, loving every morsel and saying "thank you" to each Committee mother for keeping an eye out for my daughter because...

...it takes a Committee to raise a child!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Such A Sweet Thing...

...happened to me. I want to tell you how deeply it touched me.

One of the first blogs I started following was Creative Breathing, lovely Elizabeth's blog. We all seem to have an "alternative world" that we sometimes mentally inhabit. Some people live on the pages of Vogue magazine. I would choose to live in a little Mary Engelbreit slope-roofed house and decorate my house in red, blue, yellow, pink and spring green. As fate would have it, I married a man with more subtle tastes and a decorating ideas of his own. Whimsy gave way to a compromise of soft pinks, greys and a dash of eggplant, which are calming, lovely and have stood the test of time.  Inside me, however, I still find myself longing for that adorable brightly-colored house.

After I discovered  Elizabeth's blog, I became a follower right away. It is still one of the first places I visit almost each day. Elizabeth makes the most wonderful holiday soft sculptures of beautiful wool felt. She usually has a delightful story from her own family history, which is often the inspiration for her piece.She shares these stories with her readers. What a terrific storyteller! She makes her aunts, uncles and old friends all come alive. She is also my favorite tag, card and banner artist. She will cut a figure from a vintage card and put it together with paper, buttons and ribbon in colors I would never imagine. It always works. She has "the eye." Best of all, she tells you exactly what she does to make each piece. I always am impressed that the people who have so much talent in blogland are so willing to share what they know. Elizabeth is always so gracious about sharing her gifts.

One day, I was thrilled (and startled) to see that she had put my Katsui header on the side of her blog! Then I had a really big surprise. I found this in my comments...

"Thank you for introducing us to to such a lovely artist (Suz' comment-she was referring to Robin Thomas-A Nest With A View). There are so many different mediums I would love to try, but I just know I would be like the mouse that ate the cookie.... I can't tell you enough how very much I appreciate your comments on my blog, and I hope you will accept the gift of one of my embroidered hearts. Again and again I visit here and always leave with inspiring thoughts in my head. I will have such fun stitching this one for you! Look for it in the near future." Elizabeth

I had seen her hearts. They were utterly charming and very personal. I was shocked! I didn't believe this was really going to happen. Several days later, I opened her blog and audible gasped! There was the sweetest, most charming heart, with our name on it. 

Isn't it beautiful? The colors are perfect! When I looked more closely, I noticed the darling embroidered squirrels on the branch. Then I noticed the birds...

When Jud and I lost our twins, our symbol for them became two blue birds flying off to the Heavens. There they are. How did she happen to choose these? Did she know? I had just been thinking of them, for the first time in awhile.  In fact, I surprised myself by blogging about Brooks and Andrew.

Then I looked at the "ground" of the heart...

Here was Katie, safe and sound. And a pearl symbolizing, in Elizabeth's words "pearls of wisdom, pearls of friendship." Elizabeth described it all poetically, weaving the story into her own life story. 

Symbolism is an beautiful thing. Shared pleasures are another. Friendship is even more lovely. Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing yourself and the joy of what you do. Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing those bright colors and whimsy into my life each day. Thank you, Elizabeth, for being my friend. I cannot wait to see our "Katsui heart" and hold it in my hands!!!!!

Stop over and visit her blog, Creative Breathing,  when you have a chance. I am sure you will be just as delighted as I was to enter her world. 

P. S. Happy Birthday, my dear Kat. I love you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Etsy: We've got goodies. Yes, we do!!

Hi Everybody!!
So we've got more new goodies up on our Etsy site!!  Check them out!!

Cupid's Bow
One of Kat's all-time favorite pieces that she has made!  
(It just barely escaped being entered into her own collection.)

Hope is a thing with Wings!

One of our resin pendants- a little birdie holding "hope" and  teardrop-shaped charms in it's beak.

Take a Bow
Vintage repurposed bow pin and crystal chain- an elegant combination!

Dutch Treat
A sweet little dutch couple dangles on their date from two golden chains.

Luck be a Lady!
A funky piece, sure to catch Lady Luck's eye!

And more pieces on our Etsy site!

And while you are there, check out some of our friend's wares:
Lesly Quijas- a designer from San Miguel de Allende (friend of a friend)

Sunny Rising Metal (and check out her leather tooling and her music!)

And last, but not least, Annie Singer (a former co-worker of Kat's!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thirty-Seven Years Ago...

I married this man in the backyard garden of my family home. He had hair then (an afro, to be exact) and wooed me by cooking pheasant that he and his friends had hunted. I wore a ninety dollar hippie dress and a big white hat and his sister sang Judy Collins. We drove off with our U-Haul to San Francisco and experienced what we still refer to as "our two year honeymoon." We were poor. We baked our own bread and lived on food stamps and, when we had our first restaurant meal four months later, it cost us two dollars each. We were very happy, very young and very much in love.

Thirty-seven years later, we have lived together through great joy and deep sadness. We have nurtured a beautiful child to adulthood. We have lost premature twin sons and the hope of having a larger family but, because of this, we"fostered" nine other kids. It has not always been champagne and roses but our hearts are entwined forever because of all the life we have shared.

Thirty-seven years later, we are still very much in love.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Talent...

I sat next to Robin and her sidekick, Jemelia, at Silver Bella and I thought the two of them were hilariously funny. I have gotten to know Robin much better through blogland and her great blog, Robin Thomas: A Nest With A View.  This woman can do so many things well. She writes sensitively and intelligently, she takes incredible photographs, she knits gorgeous neck-warmers, and she makes beautiful jewelry. I admire anyone who solders, since the skill has so far evaded me, but I think that what she puts with her soldered pieces is what makes them very special. I love the piece above, the first of hers that I saw, because it seems like her signature piece, as "Robin." I think it is so beautiful with the citrine Czech glass tablets and the irregular white pearls, but the crowning touch is the little white flowers with citrine-colored centers.

She continued her "fly" theme with this beautiful butterfly. Again, she has a pearl hand-wired chain (we learned how to do this from Kaari Meng) and a grey mother-of-pearl hand-wired chain. I love how the mother-of-pearl picks up the grey of the butterfly wing.

This is another piece I love. She does her own collages and I love the French Provincial chair with the heart in the seat. The background is a piece of vintage wallpaper...just perfect. What does it mean? Robin, please fill us in. I can only guess, but I know it is lovely! I love the moonstone Czech glass tablets and the grey pearls. The flowers and turquoise leaves pull it all together so beautifully. Look at that tiny flower that drapes down the back! Is that not cute? 

This one is delightful. She printed this darling child, with "Be Nice" superimposed over the picture. I love the Czech crystal barrels, again, hand-wired, and the second strand of grey pearls, also hand-wired. She always adds a third strand of oxidized sterling chain. This is time-consuming work! Again, she has beautiful rose flowers draping over the charm...and one down the neck. The "Be Nice" made me wonder a bit. Robin is a very nice person, but...

Aha! This is more like it! She is one of the sassiest women I know! Vintage Robin!

I hope she will someday sell her creations, as they are so beautiful. So far, she does not sell her jewelry but does sell her knitted creations. I heard they sold out at Silver Bella, and that is a tough audience!

Robin's jewelry has a "look," which I think is remarkable is someone just beginning. You would probably be able to identify one of her pieces (and wear it proudly).  She also does everything so perfectly,  from the wiring to the soldering. Perfectionism is a great quality in an artist! I am glad she's my friend and I hope you will take a moment to visit her blog,  Robin Thomas: A Nest With A View. And someday, someone may point to your neck and say to you, "Isn't that a 'Robin Thomas'?" 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old friends...Bookends...

Remember that Simon and Garfunkel song? Some of your will, some of you won't and I am giving away my age!  To tell the truth, I don't know the lyrics beyond these four words. I thought about it tonight and old friends truly are like "bookends" in our lives. Old friends seem be a container for your "book" of shared history and only the ones who are characters in the story will totally understand. 

These special people are our dear friends, Di and Iver, from South Dakota. These friends (of bicycling marathons and organic gardening, totally unlike us) have been an important part of our lives for almost forty years now and we cherish them both. 

We shared a wonderful evening, celebrating  Di's birthday. Jud, Kat and I gave Di a necklace with a silver piece on it that says, "Live Out Loud" because Di does just that. Iver says she has a connection that goes instantaneously from her brain to her mouth. You always hear exactly how she feels (though never in a cruel manner). I really like that quality in a good friend. 

Our friend, Roger, called Iver a Renaissance man who knows as much about a grain of dirt as an elegant scientific model. He grew up on a farm in North Dakota and became an ER doctor. He has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh. Iver and Jud can talk politics and current events for hours. He and Di love to attend the opera. That puzzled me until I started listening to the music myself. Now I am beginning to understand. I learn a lot from them.

They have two daughters, Megan and Kirsten,  that are dearly loved by all the Reaney's. On the right you see Megan, beloved friend of Kat, surrogate daughter of Jud and Suz. On the left, you see Drew, Megan's partner, a very serious young man ;-).  He has all but his dissertation completed in Philosophy. He and I share a serious interest in candy and could probably discuss it for an entire evening. Megan and Drew are sharing a little private joke that obviously amuses them both. A great deal.

Here we have our dear Megan and Momma Sue or "Soup" (coined by Kirsten). Megan is an MD. How would you like to see that fresh, young face enter your hospital room?  She may look young but you would be a lucky patient. She is incredibly intelligent, a grounded scientist of medicine AND kind and empathetic. To me, though, she is, first and foremost, my Meggie, another daughter. She once joined the Reaneys on a trip to Australia. She organized our finances and washed her tee-shirts inside out each night and hung them up to dry (she was a responsible fourteen). She lived with us one summer and is the one person, older or younger, who can make me act the most silly. I do not do this without Meggie. It is her fault. 

Di and I were pregnant at the same time and Kat was supposed to come a week before Megan. It was the middle of August in the Black Hills and neither of us could afford an air conditioner. Di annoyed me to no end by delivering a whole TWO WEEKS before me! I am still mad at her! 

The girls have been dear friends since birth and do we ever have great stories to tell on them! We will save the most incriminating ones for their children. I will tell you a bit about the time we flew Megan to St.Paul as a surprise for Kat's birthday and wrapped her in a big box in the back yard (don't worry, friends, just for a very short time!) Kat had just turned seven and we took her out and showed her this huge present that had a giant bow and a poem, written by Jud...

"To early birthday presents, Dad usually says, 'Oh, pshaw!'
But here is something you can take with you to Camp Wabasha"

Katie guessed it was a backpack. Out popped Megan. Much hugging and laughing ensued. Megan spent the week and the two of them attended a science/drama/math "city" camp. Even Jud and I can call out the camp cheer to this day. 

What a delightful memory!

Jud looked at me longingly all evening. I think he was falling madly in love with me all over again or was hoping he could convince me to break the rules of our South Beach Diet and share a fabulous dessert with him. I lean toward the second interpretation. We settled for lattes with skim and Splenda and pretended they were chocolate/peanut butter mousse.

It was an evening of much laughter and celebration. An evening to always remember. Another chapter in the shared history of two families. Friends for nearly four decades. 

Old friends...Bookends. (Simon and Garfunkel) 


Monday, August 2, 2010


The winner of our giveaway, a custom-made surprise box, is Elyse of cottage. If you haven't visited her blog, do yourself a favor and go visit one of the nicest, most lovely blogs on the internet. Elyse is a kind and delightful person and we are happy to be making her a special box of goodies. 

We will be writing you an email, Elyse, to find out what you would like for some special treats!