Friday, January 16, 2015

David, "Phone Home..."

All bloggers understand that when we put ourselves out there on social media, we give up a certain amount of anonymity. All we have to do is Google our own names and we can see ourselves, our photos and our stuff plastered all over cyberspace. It can be somewhat disquieting but it's part of the game in which we have chosen to play.

So, David, on the off chance that you have succumbed to perusing the invasive social media jungle and one day happened upon my blog, today I wanted to invite you home - we're celebrating Mom's 90th birthday next month at Fat's Asian Bistro in Roseville at 6:00pm.

So grab a flight to Sacramento, rent a car, bring your appetite and share some Chinese with us! 

We're saving a place at the table for you. 

Love, Lo

Laurel. Sister Woman.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Gentle Art of Writing

Polyvore Art, Laurel Dismukes 2015
I read an article in Victoria Magazine's latest issue about a woman who writes letters as a hobby.  Her recipients may be a family member or a friend, but she also writes to people that she doesn't even know.  The article itself was written in Victoria's serene style, with soft photos and ambient text.  It made me want to settle in with a calligraphy pen, some fine linen paper and a cup of coffee.

I don't write letters. We have a whole bundle of letters that my husband's father wrote to his Mom during the war, and when I read them, it was touching. Letter writing is personal, unselfish. I'm certainly a by-product from that generation, but I must not have gotten the "communication" gene. (I don't remember my Mom writing either.) I text, I blog...I write with a keyboard.  I dream of writing a book. But the whole picture of this woman sitting by her warm fireplace surrounded by her writing tools and pretty papers was mildly appealing. 

I should write more. It sounds calming...and it is. I have at least 4 calligraphy pens in various states of disrepair and dried-up inkwells.  I lost my pretty Cross pen with the rollerball somewhere in my sewing room - now there was an instrument that was a joy to set to paper! I didn't send out holiday cards this year, unlike last year when I hand addressed over 40 cards. I haven't been journaling either, even though there's a certain peace and satisfaction that accompanies writing your deepest thoughts in a pretty little book - it's almost meditative.

I wrote (via keyboard) in my New Year's List post about having more quiet time, being more in the present, but it's difficult when you're running around 90 miles an hour "doing" to stop and rest. To sit and be still and embrace a quiet sport like reading or writing takes perseverance and discipline for those of us who are driven to overachieve. But since I memorialized that desire on my 2015 list, I should at least give it the college try.

All that being said, it's Sunday, and I need to sew. It sound like more "doing" than resting, but there is a beautiful rhythm to making a garment...especially if you are able to share the whole process "writing" in FabricLady's blog to inspire others.

There's that keyboard thing again.  I'll try to be still this evening...maybe I'll read. Oh whoops, the Golden Globes are on tonight - does that count as resting? (I watch it for the fashion.)

By the way, did you know that they don't even teach cursive writing in school today?  What's up with that?

"Catching up on Her Reading" - Polyvore Art, Laurel Dismukes, 2015
Laurel. Show me your pens!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sewing with Our Hearts

This past weekend, Dress a Girl Around the World - No. CA had our monthly sewfest. Though we had a lower than usual turnout Saturday, everyone who came put their hearts into making little dresses.  There are some blessed little girls someplace in this world who are about to get one of these creations!

 If you're in the Greater Sacramento region, consider joining us - we usually meet on the first Saturday of the month...and though we adore the ladies who come with their machines to turn out these adorable little dresses, we appreciate the ones who can't sew but show up to iron, cut bias tape, make pockets, assemble kits, etc. Everyone is welcome!

And even thought we don't always know what part of the world our dresses will "land", we are just as blessed making it as they will be getting it.

Visit us on Facebook to find out more information!

Laurel. Sew Happy Thoughts!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"Carpe Diem..."

I'm rather an anti-New Year's resolution kind girl. When January comes along, there is a sense of new beginnings, but most of those feelings just spring from clearing out the Christmas decorations and putting them away.  For me, January is not much different than other months that signal some sort of change. September, for instance, was the month that school started -  a new wardrobe plus anticipation of seeing old friends again and the arrival of Fall, my favorite season. The month of May meant that summer was just around the corner. Each season had a beginning and provided the backdrop for some sort of personal rebirth or change.

Three days into January 2015, the decorations haven't been returned to their storage containers, I'm 5 pounds over my goal, my house is a fright and I haven't "exercised" in 6 months. You didn't get a holiday card or letter from me, as I didn't send any...not one. 

In short, there are a lot of things that come to mind if I were a New Year's resolution kinda girl, but I'm  not.  However, I am the queen of list makers. I'm sure it has a lot to do with advancing age...forget the fact that I've been making to-do lists my whole life. I make lists whenever I'm having a dinner party, whenever I go shopping or whenever my brain goes into overload thinking about all the things I "need" to accomplish.

So leaving the whole New Year's resolution thing behind, I'd rather just "memorialize" my list of things that I want to do this year...things that I want to be better at...things that might make my life more meaningful.

  • I want to be a better friend - the kind that actually makes a lunch date rather than a "hug,hug, kiss kiss, let's do lunch" non-committal kind of friend.  (Hey if you really don't intend to follow through, Laurel,  then don't say it.)

  • I want to "let go" more - I want to stop worrying about things I can't control and creating mountains out of molehills, if only in my overly analytical brain. (Just because you don't say it out loud doesn't mean you should be thinking it, girl!)

  • I want to be more about others and less about me - that doesn't even require an explanation.

  • I want to to procrastinate less - it's not enough to just MAKE a list of things to do, you have to get down and get it done. (Otherwise don't put it on the list, Laurel, if you don't intend to follow through)

  • I want to learn to be still - take time to sit quietly a little more, to perhaps meditate or pray more...or even actually READ during the day, instead of falling asleep with the book still in my hands. (Maybe even finish a chapter, Laurel?) 

  • I want to be stronger - if I don't start walking or something I'm going to fall down and break a hip, go into a nursing home and then die.  Just kidding - I'm not that old...but I am weaker than I should be.

  • I want to need less - less impulsive buying, less comfort food, less spending, less stuff. (Do you even know the meaning of sacrifice, Laurel??)

  • I want to be more present - I have spent the last 30 years of my life perfecting multitasking. Even in retirement, I can't seem to shake the need to be efficient. I want to live more in the moment and focus and ENJOY what's happening around me or what I'm doing at that moment.

  • I want to finish well - we all have a time clock on our lives, and though my genes tell me that I have years to go, I want them to be back, sharing, making a difference in the lives of the people around me.

So, no resolutions. No promises. No commitments.  No accountability. Just a list of "dreams" whilst I sit hit sipping coffee and thinking about how I can repack all that Christmas stuff away this weekend. The morning is chilly, the decaffeinated (a real resolution!) coffee is warming my heart and I am feeling blessed.
Laurel. Carpe diem.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shops I Adore: The Crave

Crave: (v) to have an intense desire for something.

Yesterday was my bi-weekly shopping trip with Mom. My brother and I trade off taking her to buy groceries and whatever else she needs. Her soon to be 90 years may sound like we're following a little feeble lady with a shopping cart through Walmart, but our Mom is no little old lady.  She wisely decided about a year ago that she might kill somebody behind the wheel of her car because of her poor eyesight. She willingly gave up her license, which speaks volumes about her feisty razor-sharp mind.

Our normal shopping day consists of Sam's Club, Walmart, Target, etc., but whenever we want a true shopping experience, we try to hit one of the locally owned shops in the Greater Yuba-Sutter area. Yesterday we discovered a chic little gourmet shop on Bridge Street in Yuba City aptly named The Crave.

Owned by  George and Melinda Barlow, The Crave is a gourmet food and gift shop filled with a massive assortment of Olive oils, condiments, teas, and all manner of epicurean delights and gifts for the foodie in us all.

"Our mission is to make gift giving fun, easy and unique for every occasion. 
We want to satisfy your crave to give and make our little corner of the world 
a place where smiles are contagious."

If you're into olive oils, then The Crave is THE place to come.  I didn't count the number of 
olive oil makers, but I noted that many of them were from local 
Northern California growers. 
And YOU CAN TASTE every one of them on the spot. 
I loved their private label oil myself.

The shelves of The Crave were filled with other delights
 to enhance your cooking experience:
salts, mustard, jars of pickled stuff, jams, etc...

heart warming teas and teapots...

And a variety of gifts and treasures all to complete great gift baskets 
for a friend, family member or foodies...

George and Melinda have been open a year and 
I can't imagine why I never found this shop before.

Though I didn't see Ronnie in Walmart yesterday, 
our visit to The Crave was far more enjoyable...
if you live in the area, it's a must visit!! 
If you don't, they have online shopping in addition to this lovely storefront.

Mom and I will be back...and Walmart Ronnie will have to wait!

P.S. TO MY Facebook FRIENDS and FOODIES - THEY SHIP - go online to their website

The Crave
454 Bridge Street St.
Yuba City, CA 95991
(530) 790-0792
 (855) 854-3700

Laurel. Support Small Business!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year

Wishing all of you a Happy and Blessed New Year
Dave and I, from his drone...
 Laurel. Still busy sewing, volunteering and enjoying life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In love with the little things...

My friend Sue is hosting a table at our church's annual Women's Christmas Brunch.  Sue is the Area Coordinator for Dress a Girl Around the World, so naturally nothing but a DAG theme would do for the centerpiece...which I readily volunteered to make for the table.

Because my daughter is so crafty, I invited her over to help out. We had so much fun making the miniature sewing tools and supplies needed to make the perfect little dresses - just like the real ones we make every month at DAG sewfests.  The main part of the centerpiece is about 12-13 inches tall, but what's a DAG centerpiece if it doesn't have a globe representing the places where little girls live?  So our centerpiece is a little over the legal height limit, but no one will notice because it's so darn cute!!!

A jewelry stand, little doll clothes hangers and other miniature stuff, 
add a few Christmas touches and a wield a mean hot glue gun...

I printed tiny images of bias tape on sticky labels...

The tiny dresses brought back memories of sewing doll clothes...tedious, but fun.

My favorite items are the tiny bolts of fabric...

Cuteness Overload!!!
Thanks for your help, Amy!!!

Laurel. Michael's is my friend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In Search of Style

If we confine ourselves to shopping in department stores, outlet malls and discount retailers we will always be able to find something to wear that is popular, perhaps even "trendy".  If we only buy our wardrobe online or from the dozens of catalogs stuffed in our mailboxes, we will probably find something at a bargain price that suits our fancy, but not without a modicum of  hassle and a lot of time. This is why I sew...I'd rather spend my precious time constructing a garment that fits me, fit's my style and doesn't always squeeze my pocketbook. And I am usually guaranteed of a good outcome, especially because my precious Stonemountain, my "muse", is just a freeway away...(can a fabric store BE a muse?)

To actually see an Alexander McQueen gown? Perfection!
Part of the joy of sewing for yourself comes with finding your own personal fashion sense, your "style". We get that by experience. When you have sewn garments for a while, you start to know what looks good on your body and what makes you feel good about the way you look. The other side of sewing for yourself is that you can get into a rut, always constructing the same looks, using the same fabrics. And this is why we "window shop": to get a sense for new designs, new uses for fabrics, etc.

Admittedly, you can still get into these ruts by limiting your window shopping experiences. If you go to the same department store over and over, you're likely to see the same thing over and over again. Department stores tend to overdo everything - if a dark printed polyester knit is popular, then everything in the store is made out of the same type of fabric and color pallet.(perhaps a gross exaggeration, but it seems that way sometimes). is STILL the go-to color, Zan
I like to window shop at smaller boutiques and the high-end boutiques within the high-end retailers. I want to see what the designers are offering up for the season. I'm no Project Runway candidate, but I like to watch it for inspiration (although I swear I can sew better than any of them). And despite their lack of sewing prowess (Kini being the exception this season) I have gotten a couple of design ideas.

The end all/beat all source of inspiration would be a trip to New York or Paris. Okay, we can't all do that, but I was blessed with a vacation this year which included 5 days in Paris. Just sitting at a cafe table for an hour will provide a person with enough inspiration to create a seasonal wardrobe. Strolling the streets of the Marais or fighting the crowds at the Galleria Lafayette provides one with ample opportunity for new ideas.

Tulle Streetwear.

Budding fashion sense...

Get out the credit cards...unless you SEW!

mmmmm..Vivienne Westwood... where would I ever wear it? BUT....

Too short for me, but cute!
Bet you can make this Chanel jacket...Hel-lo!

Digital prints.. STILL big this year.

DVF - does she ever go out of style???
In the end, I only actually "purchased" a pair of jeans at a high-end sidewalk sale in Avignon, Provence.  They have this sale once a year in September, and you could find the most amazing "bargains". I use the term loosely as everything in fashion is relative.

I am "SEW' ready to get back to sewing for me and The FabricLady. Our pile of fabric awaits!

Laurel. And sew on and sew on...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Was it the Buffet or the Anticipation?

On the road to Paris...

I guess I'm excited about being in Paris today, after some two weeks driving through the French countryside, because I hardly slept last night. We are meeting up with Brian and Doris there to spend six days touring, eating , and enjoying some good wine . Brian and I worked together for years prior to his career at one of the Big 5 audit firms...perhaps that explains the rest of the story...

When I finally dozed off around. 4:30 I had a hilarious dream about E & W. I dreamed that they were in the same hotel that we are at in Orleans, France, but in my dream were in Canada. 

Let me digress... This place is a bit of a dump... But it's clean and cheap for a one night stand. We ate in the restaurant last night and had the weirdest food- Dave had lasagne which they served with French fries and I ordered tortellini which came without sauce. Hmmmm

Back to my dream - I'm wandering the lobby in my pajamas ( I don't usually do that) and I see a woman I knew from high school and I hollar out to her and wave. She's dressed in  an "Auditor navy" suit, and when she comes over toward me in my pajamas, the big doors to a conference room open up and E&W people that used to work with stream out on a break, I guess. 

There are old Surewest friends in the room too and a couple of them see me and rush over. It's then I realize that I'm in my pajamas with a stain on the top (I've been on the French roads for two weeks)) so I'm mortified... Jodi tells me that I look so tan! I mention the gross pasta dinner and she and her other friends thought the food here was wonderful and they LOVED the hotel!

I spy Paul Thompson who is looking his old dapper self, totally suited up, and I want to say hi, but my pajamas are holding me back.. Then I see Dan Bessey in shorts and flip flops and deside that he must be " the client". 

I decide at this juncture that I need to leave before any of these people see me. They all this hotel is grand and I'm running back to my room wondering what they've been smoking. I find myself in the huge opulent ballroom of the hotel, and decide I must have misjudged my "one night stand" French hotel...

But here's the best part of my dream... I happen to catch a glimpse of myself in a gilt mirror... I have the worst case of bed head: I have an American flag scarf half off my hair, which is greasy and sticking straight off the other side of my head... And my head is shaved below that. What a horror! 

I think that's when I woke up, laughing. Who can really speak if the dreams/nightmares that we have after eating tortellini with no sauce??? I certainly don't want to interpret that one. I do know that it was a bit nostalgic, seeing the old E&W folks... In my dream they hadn't changed. I however was definitely not wearing my Controller outfit.

On to Paris:)

( Note: below, My face after working in yard back home... Must be the genesis of the flag on my bed head...)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Morning Contemplation

The first thing I do when I get up on a summer morning is open all the doors and take in the sights and smells of our yard. I pour my cup of coffee, tune into my praise music, feed the koi, and begin to think about my day. The beauty that surrounds me reminds me that I am blessed to be living here at the Hacienda, surrounded by garden plants, flowers and trees.

This summer morning I have begun to focus (obsess?) on our upcoming trip to France. Smoldering beneath the excitement of traveling in a foreign country is a tiny undercurrent of fear: fear that something might happen, I won't be able to communicate, I'll get lost, I'll get sick, etc. Thankfully Dave is not that way at all - everything to him is an "adventure". I tell him that my worrying is just my way of processing and planning, I guess. Somehow I think that if I chew on it long enough I will have all the bases covered and be prepared for anything. I do try to shove them into the background, and contemplate instead all the wonderful aspects of seeing new landscapes, experiencing the culture, eating delicious food, etc.

Being a worrier is a bad habit and like all worriers, we do out best work in the early morning. Thankfully, it's never strong enough to overshadow the draw of traveling. Usually the minute I'm on the plane soaring skyward, I get over it. My pragmatic self shifts into gear and tells my psycho-worrier self "It's gonna be what it's gonna be, Laurel. So take a breath, sit back and hang on!" I think it's a God thing...whatever happens - good and bad - He's there. Trust,

And I get to see some of His best works of beauty...this time touring around the French countryside!


From 2008, first published in Laurel's Quill
in February, 2012

Perched on a tiny pedestal near the cash register at Starbuck’s Kenneth/Madison store sits Stan.  Stan is a homely little man/doll with a bare chest and a big nose. Customers of the local coffee shop sign up on a schedule to take Stan on vacation with them.  Across the room is a bulletin board covered with pictures of Stan taken around the world – Stan on an elephant in India, Stan in Ireland, Stan swimming with Dolphins, etc.

Dave and I signed up to take Stan to Europe in May.  He probably had been there before but we hoped to show him new sights and experience new adventures together.  Three days before our scheduled departure, I went to pick Stan up, as he was supposed to be arriving back from a two week junket to the nation’s capital.  Alas, Stan had not returned to his perch by the cash register…sorry Stan…no Europe for you.

It would make a great story if I told you that I decided to take God with me to Europe instead of Stan.  You know…like I was immediately overcome with a sense of godly purpose, spreading the Gospel to strangers I’d meet in every sidewalk cafĂ©.  Honestly though, I wasn’t thinking of God much during my packing and planning, like so many days that manage to slip through my fingers without so much as a passing thought of Him.

We left for Europe, full of excitement and anticipation, and though I didn’t put God in my plans, He showed up anyway. As we rounded the corner of a darkened Paris street, I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower - twinkling, majestic and reaching for Heaven. I was overcome with thankfulness – many never see such beauty.  I felt the same way as I entered the room where the lovely Mona Lisa sat in gracious repose for the curious throngs – what incredible gift from God was given to the man who captured her likeness?

God was everywhere, every day. In a single twenty-four hour period I was awestruck by miles and miles of yellow flowered hillsides that graced the road to Berlin, only to be brought to tears by the letters and photographs displayed in the Jewish Holocaust Memorial.  That same quietness marked our visit to Omaha Beach, where surely God must have cried on that windy June day in 1944.

For every day that we were humbled by the history of Europe, there were no less than four or five that were marked by magnificent beauty, joyful sharing and adventure that surely rivaled our best attempts to conjure up Heaven! 

Just take a drive through the vine covered hills of Tuscany, swim in the crystal blueness of the Adriatic, loose your purse with passports and credit cards only to have them returned safely into your hands by two strangers and tell me there’s not a loving, gracious, generous and merciful God who NEVER leaves your side. 

 And Stan…well, he’s just a doll.
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