Yarn Wrapped Wreaths

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

These wreaths are one of my favorite things to make! They are quick, easy and inexpensive, and can be customized in an endless numbers of ways to create a perfect gift for any age and any occasion.

This is technically a Christmas wreath for my mom (her tree is decorated in the same style with all nature themed ornaments and natural elements), but I love that it’s more of a winter wreath that can be displayed and enjoyed for longer.

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

The primary materials that I use are yarn and felt, but you can also use ribbon or fabric for wrapping or for the decorations. Get creative when it comes to the extras – check out the floral section of your craft store for little berries, twigs and greenery. Look in the wood aisle for things like the snowflakes shown above and the miniatures aisle is also great for finding little critters or themed extras. Also hunt outside for moss, pinecones, acorns, twigs and bark.

This is one of the simpler wreaths I have made. You can really go crazy with flowers and they look amazing, but I wanted the deer to take center stage on this one!

I typically use hard foam wreath shapes (found in the floral section of your craft store), but for this wreath I wanted something larger to balance the stag, so I used a straw wreath. I also found this is the floral section and it was wrapped in plastic, which I left on.

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

The first step is to simply start wrapping your yarn around the wreath. You can glue the end to begin or just wrap over it to secure. I typically smooth a good amount of glue over the area where my ends meet after I’m done wrapping. Since it’s on the back, it’s ok if you can tell where the glue is.

There are tons of excellent tutorials out there for making felt flowers. I’ve tried many different styles and typically stick with about four or five designs that I love most and are easy to make. The coiled roses are my favorite because they are really simple, don’t require any sewing, and look adorable.

Here are just a few links to get your started:

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

When it comes to attaching all my doodads, I use Elmer’s Glue and occasionally some E6000, but most craft and fabric glues will work fine for the bulk of materials used.

I like to use a piece of ribbon or lace for hanging, which I usually just tie on and make a bow. For this one, I cut some wide burlap that was covered with lace and sewed the bow together because it was too stiff to tie. I looped a clear plastic ring underneath for hanging.

Trust me when I say that once you start making these, you might not be able to stop!

yarn wrapped wreaths | lillyella stitchery

Here are some supplies I’ve gathered to make a couple retro-inspired Christmas wreaths for myself. These are the foam wreaths I usually use. Both of the ‘yarns’ I’m using to wrap them were found in the yarn section of JoAnns, but are not your typical yarn. I actually have no idea what the green one would be used for. I found it on an endcap in this bulk bag and it’s the strangest stuff, but I think it’s going to be adorable!

Some other embellishments to think about include ornaments, beads, buttons, millnery birds and flowers, feathers, assorted trims & ribbons for accents, wood letter shapes to personalize with an initial or word or a small garland of bunting.

I hope I’ve added another project to your list! And wish me luck on finishing mine before next Christmas…

Hello friends!

I’m so excited that lillyella has a new home with easy access to my blog and all my shops. Please excuse any formatting problems with my previous posts as I have just imported them and will have to go through and do a little clean up.

I’m also in the process of setting up the rest of the site, so pardon the dust!

Be back soon!

~ nicole

2nd Annual Lillyella Secret Santa Gift Exchange!

The thing I love most about the holidays (besides snow!) is giving gifts. I get so darn excited I can hardly contain myself! I hosted this secret santa gift exchange for the first time a couple of years ago and it was tons of fun, so now that I’m settled and back to blogging, it’s time to make this an annual event!

So here’s how it will work — From now until November 20, I will collect the names and addresses of anyone who would like to participate. Guys and kids are welcome, too (with the assistance of a parent)!

I will then randomly assign each participant the name of a person you are to send a gift to and you will receive a gift from someone else. Only myself and your secret santa will have your information and everything will be secret until gifts are received!

Gifts can be handmade or purchased, should be valued around $20 (before shipping) and gift wrapped. If you’d like to spend more on your gift or if the item you make is valued at more than $20, that is no problem at all as long as you understand that you may receive something smaller.

Please keep in mind you will need to ship the item and I’ll ask that items be shipped by December 16. Since international postal rates changed this year, it is more costly to ship internationally than it used to be, but it’s not difficult to do if you don’t mind paying a little extra. 

Please email your name and mailing address to nicole@lillyella.com, subject: Secret Santa. Please also include what country you are in and whether or not you are willing to ship internationally, and if so, to what countries. Feel free to also include information about yourself — likes, dislikes, favorite colors, favorite Etsy shops, your personal style, hobbies, interests etc, or you can just leave it up to your secret santa to totally surprise you!
I will email you the name of your gift recipient, along with all the important details by or before November 28.
Feel free to contact me anytime or leave a comment below with any questions. And invite your friends to join in, too!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

photos © Anthropologie

Spotlight: The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

I can’t remember when I first learned to cross stitch, I just always remember doing it! I probably learned when my mom was working on this big americana sampler that we hanging in our hallway. I remember  what it looked like and watching her work on it so clearly, yet can’t think what my first project may have been. I kind of equate cross stitching with knitting and crocheting. They are all cathartic in a sense, portable, able to be done while doing something else (you all know how much I love multitasking!) and can be set aside for as little or as long as you want, waiting for you to return. I always have a project going and it’s so easy to pick it up whenever I need a break, have to sit somewhere for a long time, or just need to take my mind off of things. I even took one to Africa and worked a bit every night with a headlamp under my mosquito net.
For those who equate cross stitch with grandma, it’s time to check out what it’s all about these days! Don’t get me wrong, fabulous vintage patterns have their place (finally starting my Mad Men deer by the way, remember that hunt?!), but the patterns being created these days are just too cute to resist picking up this craft, or getting back into it.
latte love by the frosted pumpkin stitchery
Today I want to introduce you to a couple ladies I recently discovered through the workroom, Amanda and Ashleigh of The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery! This BFF duo creates cute, one of a kind cross stitch patterns for stitchers of all experience levels. 
Some of you who follow me on facebook and instagram have asked about the project I’ve been sharing (above top), which is the springtime sampler from the frosted pumpkin stitchery. Think of it as a virtual stitch-a-long! When you sign up during the sampler presale, you receive a color key and chart of all the sampler borders, then you receive  a chart every week for a month or so with the pattern for one row of the sampler.
You can follow along on facebook, instagram and flickr to see everyones progress as you go (above bottom). The Springtime Sampler was released in April and while many people have completed, I’m way behind — but it doesn’t matter! 
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Their first seasonal sampler was a winter wonderland and they will be continuing with summer and fall, too. In fact, the presale for their Summer Sampler begins today!! It is on sale for $12.95 through the end of this month with the first full week beginning with the start of summer, which gives you plenty of time between now and then to get all your supplies and prepare your borders! 
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Some of their samplers are monthly, including their most epic pattern, the fruit of the month club (shown above)! There’s no way I can pass this one up, but it will have to wait until after the move! This pattern was released before as a year long stitch along, but was recently re-released as an entire pattern which you can find here.
Another monthly sampler that is currently in progress is their woodland sampler (shown below). How adorable is that?! It’s never too late to begin and get caught up! You can purchase this pattern at any time through the year and will receive the current and previous months initially, then receive each following month as they come.
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Want to learn more about the ladies behind the patterns? Read on!

Who is The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery?

The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery is Amanda & Ashleigh! We are two best friends!
Where do you currently call home?
We both live in Northern California
How long have you been operating?
Since 2011
Is Frosted Pumpkin a full-time adventure or do you have a day job?
Since the first of the year it’s become our full time job! Ashleigh works at a ceramic studio on the weekends and Amanda occasionally designs quilts.
How did you come up with your shop name?
We both love sweets and fall- our dream baked good is anything with frosting and pumpkins!
What, if any, formal training have you had in the arts?
Ashleigh has a degree in graphic design, Amanda went to school for printmaking
“This is how we work: Ashleigh designs a chart (this is the full summer sampler!) and we set up camp at Michael’s and pick colors!”

What made you decide to start your business?
We really loved to craft but it was hard to find kawaii cross stitch patterns!

Where do you sell and market your patterns?
Thefrostedpumpkinstitchery.bigcartel.com (you can also find some patterns on Kitschy Digitals)

Five things you love:
Amanda: I love Halloween, donkeys, camping, sock yarn & Porkchop!

Ashleigh: Road Trips, peach tea, my pups Zula & Panda, being crafty & Autumn
What is your favorite leisure time activity? 
Amanda: knitting socks!
Ashleigh: Crocheting or cross stitching
Favorite junk food?
Amanda: pickle chips! 
Ashleigh: Reese’s peanut butter cups

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, with whom would it be?
Amanda: Hermoine for sure! She’s my very favorite.
Ashleigh: I would have to say Tina Fey. I would love to be as witty and creative as that lady!

Share some of your favorite music 
Amanda: I alternate between the soundtrack to Animal Crossing, to Motley Crüe to Waylon Jennings. It really depends on my mood that day!
Ashleigh: Some of my favorites are Old Crow Medicine Show, Adele, Miranda Lambert, Billie Holiday and Mumford & Sons

What would you like to learn?
Amanda: I’d like to learn how to weave!

Ashleigh: I would like to learn play the violin (super random!)
What does the future hold for you and your creative endeavors? 
We are going to keep releasing new patterns, maybe an ebook! We have lots of ideas and hopes and dreams!

You can follow The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery on facebook, flickr and on instagram with hashtag #thefrostedpumpkinstitchery. You can also visit Amanda’s blog, Hey Porkchop, for tons of other crafty adventures!

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So, are you ready to begin?! You can start with this FREE pattern of the Frosted Pumpkin mascots, Sugarloaf and Threadly, and sign up for the summer sampler here! Tell me, did I make a cross stitcher outta you? 🙂

Happy weekend, friends!

365 days without dad marks my return to the world

It was one year ago today that I held my dad’s hand as he took his last earthly breath. And I’m sure all you who were with me through it are saying the same thing I am. A year, really? Crazy, I know.

It’s been just shy of six months since I kinda fell off the face of this virtual world we share. So, are the two connected in any way? Of course. Is it so much more than that and a bowl of grits? You bet. I’m not even sure where to begin, but I have a feeling this story may span more than one post. I’m not sure I can get it all out at once.

As I sit here reflecting on the last year, and most vividly the last six months, the one thing that calls out more loudly than anything else at this moment is love. It just so happens to be overwhelming me right now. And yes, ultimately that is a good thing, though it has taken a heck of a lot for me to get there. I’m sure there is some fancy literary term for starting with the ending and then going on to tell the story from the beginning. I’m too tired to google it, but that’s what I’m about to do.
So, love. I found it in the truest, deepest form in the most unexpected of places. How did it affect me? In so many ways, because it’s not just one kind of love. It’s completely multi-faceted. It was total happenstance that two incredibly life-changing events took place for me at exactly the same moment. I knew it would rock my world and shake my foundation, but as I ran head first into my ‘new’ life, I had no idea how.
I wanted to think I was ready for it, that I was ready for anything, but I soon discovered I really wasn’t. I’ve been going back and forth about how detailed I was going to get here. Those friends who go way back know that opening up personally here was a challenge for me at first, but eventually become therapeutic at a time when that was what I needed more than anything. So, while I could probably write for six hours straight and share every day of the last six months, I’ll give you the cliffnotes version. You still may want to settle in with a cup of coffee, as most of you know I have a tendency to ramble. A little…
At first, my ‘disappearance’ was sparked by the phase of training my husband was about to begin at the time. The ‘men in charge’ like to dig up dirt to make the hell more hellish and while we’ve always been smart and secure in that aspect, I figured better safe than sorry. He also left for the field at this time and was gone until this past weekend, so I had lots of time to sit around by myself and think.
Now of course I wasn’t just sitting around by myself, I was going going going 24-7, in typical Nicole fashion, but ultimately, something just wasn’t feeling right. I do think a huge part of it was suddenly withdrawing from something that was my life for so long, but the rest of it was the continual sinking in and final settling of what I had gone through the last couple years and what my life was now. It’s been a year and there’s rarely a day that passes that I don’t stop, for at least a moment, and think how surreal it all feels. Some days I forget that I’m not in Ohio, until I go outside in early January in a sundress and sandals or I see paratroopers falling from the sky while I’m running at the lake.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it began, but one of the biggest things I’ve been struggling with is my sense of purpose, I guess you could say. In general I just had this overwhelming, burning desire to do something more, be a part of something bigger. I know that part of it has to do with being right up in the middle of the military hub of the universe, but it is more than that. I had and have a few things that I’m thinking about, but one of the hardest parts about it all is realizing that it’s not something I can figure out and jump into overnight. It’s quite a process of mutually deciding with my husband what will work for both of us and internally debating between how much time and effort I not only have to put into something, but want to put into something.
For example, I’d love to be a combat photographer for the Army until my husband retires and we build our dream art barn and hide away with 50 acres, 50 goats and no other people in sight. However, do my husband and I want to be getting shot at in different countries until then, seeing each other for maybe a month out of every year for the next 10? Probably not. Example two, I’d love to be a doctor, and if I could wake up tomorrow and start doing trauma surgery, I’d totally do it. Do I want to be a doctor bad enough that I’ll spend the next 15 years training for it? Not a chance. I could go on, but I did say cliffnotes, didn’t I?
So where does that leave me now? I’m not sure. Here’s what I’ve been doing in the meantime…
Running. An old part of my life since renewed. It was October 17. I had such a crazy, insane, stressful day that I felt like my head was going to explode. So, I decided to run and run I did. It was dark, it was raining, it felt awesome. And that was the beginning of that. I hadn’t run in over 15 years and never thought I would again. My goal for 2012 is to run 500 miles. A broken foot on Christmas Eve has made my progress pretty slow, but I’m getting back in the saddle and hope to be on track soon.
I’ve also been volunteering with the family group for the training school my husband is in. This is something I began when I first arrived and have continued to growth with and enjoy. It keeps me very busy, and in it’s own way, is making a difference in people’s lives. It’s given me the chance to meet some amazing people who have changed my life and has taken me places I never expected to go.
I’m learning to speak Russian. It’s the language my husband was assigned, so I didn’t just randomly decide I had to tackle the Cyrillic alphabet, but it’s fun and interesting in it’s own unique way. He had a super charged course that made him fluent in six months while I’ve barely begun the first of six cases, but I’m getting there and I’m not giving up!
Most excitingly, I finally had the chance to take up metal smithing! This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and while I unfortunately no longer have the perfect, custom-built art barn to do it in, I have the time so am taking advantage of it. I found an amazing local artist who teaches at the community college and have since had three courses with an awesome group of people. Right now, my kitchen island is sufficient enough space to whip up my creations and I’m very excited to share them with you all soon.
I’ve started to attend church and go to a couple bible studies each week. My spirituality has been an internal struggle, if you will, for most of my life. Every time I’ve had a resurgence of interest, I never had luck finding the right path. Turns out one of the first people I met here ended up being the one I had been waiting for to lead me down the path. Something clicked in a way that it never had before, and I couldn’t ignore that. It’s definitely still a journey for me, but there’s no doubt I’m finally going in the right direction.
I’m also playing my flute with the church orchestra. Something else I haven’t done in over a decade, but it’s kind of like riding a bike and is all coming back to me quickly. Easter will be my first performance, wish me luck!
Possibly most rewarding, I’m going to volunteer with the local hospice organization. Honestly, I’m about 50/50 right now as to whether it will be amazingly fulfilling or utterly depressing, but I feel like I’m the kind of person who can do it, so I have to try. Tomorrow is my orientation and training, I’m nervous, but I’m also excited and I’m going into it with an open mind and an open heart.
I’ve also been considering becoming a paramedic. I’m still pondering this one. While I do think I would love it and the training is realistic in both time and cost, the truth of the matter is this — there’s a good chance that in 6 – 10 months from now, I’ll be living on 30 acres of land in Nothwestern Tennessee with a field full of goats and chickens, canning more fruit than I know what to do with and catching dinner in my pond. And that might be enough for me. I have a tendency to absorb the energy of what’s happening around me and right now, there is a heck of a lot happening around me. When that changes, chances are so will the way I feel, to a degree at least.
My current hope is that all these things I’m getting my hands into right now will keep me busy enough in a positive, enjoyable way and that volunteering with hospice will fill the part of me that wants to do something meaningful. At least enough to get me through the months ahead until my life, once again, takes another turn.
In regards to my shop and my blog and all of that. I’m back, and so happy to be here. I’ve missed you all so very much and there has been many times when I wanted so badly to just share all I was dealing with or just a random moment, but I’m sure you can all understand both why I couldn’t and why I needed to hide away from everything for a little while.
All that and I’ve barely scratched the surface, but for tonight I’m going to wrap this up. It’s been a long day of ups and downs and a bubble bath is calling my name. Thank you so so much to all of you who were supporting me unmeasurably without even knowing it. Just knowing I was missed and thought about got me through many days and nights. I can’t wait to catch up and hear what you’ve all been up to! More soon…
love ~ nicole

One month without Dad

Thirty two days actually, but close enough. My last report was at nine days, and as I’m sure all of you can either guess or can relate, it hasn’t really gotten easier yet, and I’m not to the point of expecting it to. The surreality of it is still as strong. The vision of seeing his lips fade from pink to white, and the realization that came with that sight, still haunts me. I still cry every day and dream of my father every night. I have no doubt I will get past all of that, though. I am able, everyday, to smile and press onward telling myself that my Dad would want me to be happy and live life to the fullest, and that is what I am bound and determined to do.

Today I decided to share an email I received. It is from a nurse who cared for my Dad while he was in the ICU getting IL-2 treatments. He spent two weeks there.

I am truly sorry for the loss of your father. In the few days I was given the opportunity to get to know him I feel truly fortunate. Your father demonstrated an incredible spirit despite the odds. In fact, I mention your father to every IL-2 patient I have now. He will always be known as the Super-Leukin Man and the first to receive most all of the doses.

Unfortunately, I experience death much more than average and though I may only have a few days or several hours to get to know the patient and family, I try my best to never forget. Steve will never be forgotten. He inspired me with his unbeatable and positive fervor throughout the most difficult challenge to face, to stay alive physically and emotionally.

Your father is a shining star.
“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”- Desiderata, Max Erhman

I decided to share this today because it makes my heart burn with happiness every time I read it. The inspiration he shared is really what it’s all about. I said something very similar about that topic at my Dad’s funeral, it was the one thing I really wanted people to remember, and to hear it from someone else was such a great gift.
Some of you know and some of you don’t, that my husband was away with the Army for most of the tough times with my Dad. This made things unmeasurably harder, but that is life and we all did what we could. While he spent weeks in the field, laying on frozen ground with no food and no sleep, hiking through frozen streams in the dead of night, he would say to himself and the other guys, “At least cancer isn’t breaking my bones.”
So I guess my point is this… there are lots of things that make a bad day. Lots of things we can get angry about, get frustrated about, feel sorry for ourselves about. But if you’re not dying, stop and ask yourself, is it really that bad? Is it really worth all the grief I’m causing myself and everyone around me?
Cheer the hell up, it could be worse. And that’s not just a cliché.
Several months back I began pondering a new tattoo design and decided on a large, antique rose in the middle on my back. I’ve since been thinking on the perfect wording to accompany it and finally decided a few days ago…
“Being alive is the meaning.”
I dare you to find me better words to live by.

Oh yeah, I found it.

You all know a lot about me, but one thing you probably don’t know is that I’m an avid cross stitcher, always have been. I pick it up and put it down every now and then, as with most hobbies, but it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. As my Dad’s illness progressed, my interest increased again and I’ve been stitching like crazy.
{Prepare for sudden subject change}
Any Mad Men fans out there? I know, I know, I’m waaaaay behind on this one. Everyone’s told me how much I’d love the show, but I just never never had the time to watch it, until recently. I finally picked up season one from the library and, of course, was instantly hooked. I spent 11 years in advertising and design, and have always felt like I should have been spending my prime in the late 50s/early 60s, so aside from all the smoking (sheesh!), that totally could have been my life.
I plowed through seasons one and two in less than a week’s time, but it was during the finale of season 2 that my little heart skipped a beat. Anyone remember this opening shot of the scene with Betty at the doctor’s office?

It was much clearer on the TV but that’s a cross stitch. A mighty big one, too. And really, could it be any darn cuter?

From that moment on it became my goal to find that pattern! With the beauty of the internet these days, I figured I could do it with no problem. My hunt proved to be a little more difficult than I first anticipated but after three weeks of super sleuthing, I had that little number in my crafty little hands!
When you think about, three weeks to find a pattern from the 40s is pretty darn amazing. But we’re so used to instant results that it felt like an eternity. It did take quite a bit of detective work, but it was really fun. All that matters now is that I’m ready to start stitching!

The original piece was 2 feet wide, but was stitched on 7 count fabric! I generally use 16 or 18 count fabric, so my finished piece will be quite smaller, but still big enough to really be a stunner. Best part is, this pattern has a partner, a matching buck! You bet I’m making both.
They will definitely take me some time to complete, but I’ll be sure to share some progress photos and, of course, the finished pieces!
So aside from my Mother and Fawn obsession, I stitched up many cute pieces for holiday gifts using patterns I found on Etsy and am also currently working on a few for myself, with a long wishlist to follow.

I purchased this fox pattern from andwabasabi on Etsy and stitched it up for my cousins out in Seattle.

I stitched this home sweet home up from a ChezSucreChez pattern I also found on Etsy.

I’m a big fan of single color work and silhouettes, and these entomology patterns by What Delilah Did are just too cool! I purchased the bee pattern but haven’t tackled it yet.
She has some fabulous photos on her flickr page here of her pieces on display. Definitely inspiring!

I also purchased these patterns a little while back from kattuna on Etsy. I’ve been working on them to hang in my workspace, but I’ve only finished the bird so far. In mustard yellow, of course 🙂
I stitched a couple initials from patterns from andwabisabi for holiday gifts as well. You really can’t go wrong with simplicity! The one shown above is a photo from her shop and you can find patterns for almost the entire alphabet there.

These flower patterns from Artecy are on a whole different level, but something I can’t wait to take on. Aren’t they beautiful?
A few of my other favorite pattern sites outside of Etsy are:
Cross Stitch Art — I absolutely love their art nouveau patterns. I have four in my to-do pile.
Stitch Alley — They have a fabulous collection of letter monograms.

Pinoy Stitch — They have a huge selection of anything under the sun! This pattern is also in my to-do pile. Crazy? Just a little.
And last but not least, I have two favorite books I have to recommend for nature lovers. The first is Roses and Flowering Branches in Counted Cross Stitch. Amazing! It’s on the pricier side because it’s hard to find, but totally worth it. I want to stitch every pattern in the book. (I have some photos if anyone wants to see more before purchasing it!)
The second is a book I picked up from the library yesterday, Four Seasons in Cross Stitch. I don’t love every pattern in the book but the four images on the cover plus some adorable mushrooms inside make it worth the $4 for a used copy.
So, who else shares my passion? And, more importantly, did anyone else out there have the same reaction when seeing that piece on Mad Men?!
happy weekend, everyone ~ xo

nine days without dad

It’s been nine days since I watched my father take his last breath. The one thing I’ve heard almost as much as I’m sorry is that it will get easier with time. But that’s not the case, at least not yet. It’s just been getting harder.

It’s 4:03 a.m. as I lay in bed typing this. I haven’t slept in over a week and don’t feel it coming anytime soon. Maybe this is normal. Maybe this is processing. Whatever it is, it just sucks. What are those five stages of grief? I can never remember how they go, but I’m pretty sure I have them out of order. I started with acceptance. I had so long to consider the possibility that my Dad would lose his battle, that finally accepting it felt so easy. Though I’m realizing now that once I accepted it, everything happened so fast and I never really processed it. Looks like acceptance will be coming back around again.
Denial and Isolation. This is the first stage, and I’m guessing a lot of family and friends may think I’ve been at this stage for some time, but I haven’t and probably never will be. I’m just not a public crier, I prefer to cry alone, on my time, when I can truly process the feelings weeping from my eyes and get through them in my own way, rather than because someone in front of me is telling me how.
I’m starting to feel anger creep in for the first time. I’ve done pretty good focusing on all the amazing years we had as a family, feeling lucky for having 32 good years with my dad rather than 75 mediocre ones, but now I’m angry that he is gone.
I don’t think I ever did any bargaining, though I have found myself looking up and asking my Dad to take the pain away.
4:12 a.m.
I need a kleenex. I had so much more to say but lost it somewhere on the way to the bathroom. It makes me sad to think that so many of you reading this right now can relate. It’s not fair. Which may be the single most popular phrase in the world, but it’s true.
I’ve been internally debating about taking this into religion, but that and politics are two things I purposely try to avoid here, and I just don’t have the strength right now to delve that deep.
Am I going somewhere with all of this? No. We all work through things in our own way. I type, and it helps. I also buy shoes and eat peanut butter, but we won’t go there.
I promise my blog won’t be this depressing forever. I have this huge void in my soul but I have so much to fill it with. I will be back again, back to the person who smiles as much as my Dad did, the person he raised and the person he loved with all his heart and soul. Without even knowing it, he gave me the strength to get through this, so I damn well better.
4:30 a.m.

saying goodbye

It was almost two years ago exactly that my Dad discovered what he thought was a bug bite on his leg. He was diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma just shy of two months later. I officially gave up my hope that he would win the fight this past December 23 and he finally lost his battle today at 7:20 am. He was 59.

The house was quiet and dark. My mom and husband were sleeping, I was at his bed side holding his hand as he took his last breath. The last two years have been hard. The last eight months have been harder. The last two weeks have been the hardest and there just aren’t words to describe the last few days. But it’s over, and that’s what we’ve been hoping for. Once you know you’re out of options, you just want the pain to end.
I’ve had a long time to prepare for this moment, and I know it’s helped immensely, but it’s still harder than anything really should be. I know there will be times I forget that he is gone. I’m sure to hit speedial 6 on my cell phone at least half a dozen times before it really sinks in. This has been the focus of my life for so long now, I know I’ll feel some confusion in the weeks ahead. It will take some time to get into a new routine, but I have lots to keep me busy and so much to look forward to.
I have nothing but good memories though. My Dad was a super cool guy and no one would protest that. It’s been really nice to get messages from school day friends remembering how cool he always was to them. I’ve always been thankful to my parents for helping to mold me into the person I am. They set a perfect example for me to learn the important things like a strong work ethic, how to be a good person, how to cook and how to love. Most importantly they let me figure out who I was going to be, and then let me be that person.
The services are Thursday and Friday at a beautiful memorial park near my house. Dad said he wanted it to be a party, so I hope we can make it one. I’m wearing a yellow dress, figured that was a good place to start.
I honestly would have fallen apart through all of this without the amazing support from all of you. You saved me, and I think about that every day.
I’ll be back in action full steam ahead once the dust settles. Soon though. I’m ready.
xox ~ nicole
My Dad and I, 1980

The year ahead (and a giveaway!)

print by laurageorge

Happy New Year, everyone! Hmmm, where to start? This may get long, so bear with me…

I thought 2009 was crazy, little did I know what I was in for in 2010. In many aspects, I have no idea what this new year will bring, though I guess that is usually the case for most people. I just happen to have every major aspect of my life hanging in the balance right now. This year I will most likely bury my father, move across the country and possibly lose my mind. But let’s not jump so far ahead…
Starting with something I can control, this blog, I have some sad news. Due to the increasing demand on my time of caring for my father, I have to take a step back from blogging. I’m honestly amazed I’ve kept it going strong for this long. The amount of time I spend on this blog each week is just insane, but it has been a bit of a saving grace in the fact that it’s something I have total control of in the midst of chaos, and I really love doing it.
My dad was admitted to the hospital in mid December due to increasing pain problems. We moved him from the hospital to a hospice facility on December 23 and brought him home (to my home) with hospice care two days ago. His cancer is spreading through his bones so fast it has more or less crippled him. He only has use of one limb, his left arm, and cannot get out of bed. He has a very large tumor on his spine which will soon crush his cord paralyzing him. He is starting gamma knife radiation today, however, and is scheduled for 8 days of treatment. It’s hard to say if he will be able to handle it, but the hope is that this will slow down and shrink the growth of the bone tumors giving him a little pain relief and possibly some mobilization.
Nothing will ‘cure’ him at this point, so it’s a matter of making him confortable, but no one knows right now whether he will live another week, another month or more, so we just continue to take it day by day. Since my ‘free’ time is so slim, I realized I need to devote every bit of it to doing things that, most importantly, make me money, and hopefully a few things that make me happy. This means continuing to make new jewelry when I have the time and probably some freelance design and photography work as well.
I won’t be abandoning the blog completely, I just won’t be blogging every day. My plan is to post at least once a week, more if I feel the urge or have the time, but to not have to worry if I don’t have time at all. I’m planning to continue most of my current features and favorites so I do hope you all continue to stop in and visit. I’d like to have one Spotlight interview per month, one recipe, one craft project, a few Coutures, a contributor post and maybe some miscellaneous tidbits now and then. But you know what they say about best laid plans, so we’ll just have to see how it goes 🙂
On a different subject, I have some fun news to share about a new adventure (which some of you already know about) but since this is getting long and I still have a giveaway to get to, I think it will have to wait another week! I know, I’m such a tease…
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Now onto the giveaway!
It’s been way too long since I’ve had one and I thought it would be the perfect way to kick off the new year. Since I’ve never been good at picking just one winner, I’ll be picking two and here’s what’s up for grabs…
Each winner will receive their choice of one of the following:
A Reversible Locket Necklace in gunmetal OR antiqued brass with your choice of flower color:
A custom Carved Stone Rose Bracelet in the color combination and style of your choice. Below are two examples but I will work with you to create a piece designed to your specific preferences.

A set of Filigree Fleur Rings, one brass and one silver with your choice of flower color:

Please leave a comment on this post with one of your new year’s resolution, a goal for 2011 or something you would like to accomplish or change in the new year.
You can enter once per day with a new resolution or goal but you must include your first name AND your email address or Etsy username with every entry.
I’m going to leave this open until next Sunday night, January 9 at 9pm (EST), and will announce the winners on Monday.
Welcome 2011, let’s make this one count!
xo ~ nicole