Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Toffee

I call it "My Crazy Aunt Becky's Famous Christmas Toffee". Everybody should have at least one crazy aunt* and everyone should have a Christmas tradition that tastes this good and is so easy to make! After years of bringing it to church socials and giving it as gifts, our family is famous for it. Here is the recipe with my additional comments.


1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups pecans


Cook ingredients over high heat, stirring constantly until light brown in color. Pour onto a large flat pan (13 x 9 inches) previously prepared with 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans. Then immediately cover top of this with one package (small) chocolate chips and spread evenly over mixture while hot. Let cool in refrigerator or freezer until hard. Then turn out and break as desired.

Now, here are my tips:

Margarine works better than butter.
I don't measure the pecans, just chop and spread them in the pan till they cover it well.
I use a cookie sheet with sides.
I like more chocolate so I use the 12 oz package of chocolate chips.
I like to let the toffee stand at room temperature for at least a little while before putting in the refrigerator, or just leave it overnight. Chilling it too soon seems to make the chocolate separate from the candy when it's broken into pieces for serving. Letting the candy cool too much before spreading the chocolate on it can do that, too.

If you're still with me so far and want to see how it all comes together, here's the video:

*I call her my crazy aunt because she has always brought an extra serving of fun to everything and everyone she touches! I love you, Aunt Becky!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Is Why It's Not Just a Soap Opera

On Monday of this week I joined a few thousand friends all around the world to comfort each other and share stories of a wonderful woman who made a difference in the lives of everyone she met. Our friend Cathie Wagner died November 18, 2009 due to complications of the H1N1 virus.

Cathie was a teacher for almost 30 years in Columbiana, Ohio. The day of her funeral, the school district closed down in her honor so that everyone could attend the service. She was a remarkable woman.

I never met Cathie face to face. We met on the internet and interacted via message boards, Twitter and email. Her warm and welcoming manner made an immediate and lasting impression as did her sense of humor and her generous spirit. Cathie served as president of the Crystal Chappell Fan Club for many years and I was one of its more recent members. During the past year this fan club has grown by leaps and bounds, bringing new members from all around the globe as the Otalia story on Guiding Light, featuring Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia became more and more popular. The club has continued to grow with the announcement that Chappell would be producing Venice, a new webseries, with her partners, Kim Turrissi and Hope Royaltey. Cathie took it all in stride, taking a personal interest in each member, seeing that their membership materials arrived in the mail and all arrangements were handled for the annual fan club luncheon.

When I met my friends online to mourn Cathie's passing and, virtually speaking, cry on each other's shoulders, I was struck by the fact that, like Cathie, I've never met most of them in person. And yet, we talk every day on Twitter and on internet message boards.

I am aware that I will probably never know the full story of many of my online friends or meet them face to face. I know that among their number are crisis counselors, teachers, housewives, ministers, IT specialists, law enforcement personnel, and even a cardiac surgeon. They know that I'm a housewife, a mother, the wife of a minister, an artist.

We have become part of each other's daily lives. Some I know better than others. Some are in the US, some in other countries. Some seek my advice and I ask for theirs. We come together to support causes we believe in, to support each other in times of need and to support the actors we love from our favorite soap operas.

Just me and a few thousand friends, making a difference in our world.

This is why a soap opera is never just a soap opera.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Afterglow Lives On ...And On

This weekend Guiding Light fans will gather in Atlanta for a second "So Long Springfield" event and in a few weeks, they'll converge on Las Vegas for another one. Thinking of my friends who are planning on attending these events reminded me that I forgot to report on the events of October 9-11, 2009 in New York City, so here goes....

Although I was not able to attend the Guiding Light Fan Club Luncheon I felt like a part of me was there. Quite a few online friends of mine were there and also attended Crystal Chappell's Fan Club luncheon the next day and they made sure I was well represented.

I did a big custom button order for the Big Purple Dreams message board for Otalia fans, turning out 200 commemorative buttons to be given out to members attending these events, plus another 200 of my "Afterglow" buttons.

These buttons were to be given out at two events on Friday and Saturday nights, October 9th & 10th but so many Big Purple Dreamers showed up that they ran out of the buttons on the first night! (That's Liron Cohen, aka @Sunshineliron on the far left in this picture, someone who may be familiar to some readers of this blog.)

My friends also offered to deliver something special to the Guiding Light actors at the Fan Club event so I made my 1 inch "Afterglow" buttons and sent enough so every actor would get one. I was told each actor present received theirs and greatly appreciated them, too. Here is Jennifer Roszell (Eleni) with her button.

Then for a few of the GL actresses I had been interacting with on Twitter I made an "Afterglow" pocket mirror to go along with their buttons and also included a "Team Otalia" button, to thank them for their support of that storyline.

In this picture of a fan (Hi, Tori!) with Beth Chamberlin (Beth) and Tina Sloan (Lillian) you can see Beth's pocket mirror on the table in front of her. Later on Twitter, Beth & Tina both thanked me. Beth said "love, love, love the afterglow compact. Thank you!" and "I got one of your great compacts & recognized your name. You should sell via the glfc." Twitter has been a wonderful way to maintain contact with Guiding Light actors we miss seeing on TV and to find out what they're doing now. I've included links to Beth & Tina's latest projects here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How to Photograph Reflective Ornaments

Last year when I listed my Pocket Mirror Christmas ornaments in my Etsy shop I was able to hang them on my Christmas tree to take pictures of them. I wanted to list some a little earlier this year, though, and since I don't have my Christmas tree up yet, I had to think of another way to photograph them.

I've detailed in an earlier post my creative solution to product photography with a limited budget and small living space. I started with the same basic plan to shoot in front of the glass door leading to the deck of my town house. I get good, open lighting for several hours of the day there.

I used pieces of foamboard again, standing one scored board on end and laying another one across the top. I grabbed one of my pin-back button parts and stuck it in the top board and draped the ribbon of the ornament over it, letting it hang freely, like this:

Since these ornaments are highly reflective it takes a little creative positioning to compensate for that. I've found that a strategically place black board can take care of the problem. Watch what the light is doing and how the reflection changes as you reposition this black board in front of the item you're shooting, varying the angle as necessary. Don't worry if you have to get a little of the foamboards in the picture because you can crop that out later.

I think these pictures turned out pretty well. What do you think? These ornaments were all made with Christmas print fabrics I've collected. I'll be listing these and others in my Etsy shop soon.

Monday, October 05, 2009

How Do You Do It?

How do you wear your faith?

Is it tucked away in a pocket for safekeeping? Or maybe draped around your neck on a delicate chain?

Some Christians wear their faith like a sandwich board sign. It covers them completely and announces to the world what they believe. No need to wonder where they stand on the issues because it’s spelled out in black and white, right there on the sign.

Did you ever try to move around quickly while wearing a sandwich board sign or bend over to help someone carry their load? Or sit down with them to have a cup of coffee and hear about their day? You could offer someone a shoulder to cry on but they’d just hurt themselves on the hard corner of that sign you’re always wearing. And don’t even bother trying to give someone a hug.

Personally, when I see someone on a crowded street wearing a sandwich board sign, I tend to avoid them. It may not even matter what they’re advertising, just the fact that they’re trying to push something on me makes me less likely to want to listen to anything they have to say.

Thinking about this made me wonder…how should we wear our faith? And then it came to me….


You know, those soft padded things you put inside your shoes? They help you to

stand strong

run fast

walk as far as you need to walk.

They’re your foundation.

Nobody knows they’re in your shoes but you. But if someone is around you for very long they may notice that you

stand stronger

run faster

don’t falter when the journey is long or difficult.

And then one day someone will turn to you and say,

“How do you do it….?”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guiding Light: What Happens Next?

Over the past several months I’ve been involved with a remarkable bunch of soap opera fans over on the Big Purple Dreams message board. When I joined this forum in January I became member number 78. This community now includes over 6,000 members who have become famous worldwide for their support of Guiding Light and the love story of Olivia & Natalia, played by Crystal Chappell & Jessica Leccia.

Yesterday, I watched an interview on CNNi with Crystal. The interviewer took note of Crystal’s enthusiastic fanbase, pointing out that her fans actually crashed the website as so many of them came to leave questions in hopes they might be included in this feature. These fans have campaigned tirelessly to try to save the show from cancellation, then to try to find a new home for the show on another network or perhaps on the internet. And finally, they campaigned to try to see their favorite stories find the happy ending they so hoped to see.

Tomorrow we’ll see the last episode of Guiding Light. My heart goes out to those who have been watching this show for most of their lives, to the actors, writers and crew members who have given us their best work (many for decades) to bring us this wonderfully refreshing show. I have thoroughly enjoyed the innovative and controversial production model that brought the viewers right into the middle of the scene and made us feel almost a part of the story. I will miss that because it is unlike anything being done by other soaps I watch. I have only been watching this show since February, but I soon felt like I was part of the Guiding Light family, too. I will miss it for all it was and might have been.

We will soon say goodbye to characters who have become like old friends to us and we will know if our favorites got that happy ending or not. My thoughts are with my 6,000+ Big Purple Dreamers, knowing that many didn’t see all they wanted to see in their favorite story. Some are bitter and angry about that, some poised to campaign for changes in the way same sex relationships are depicted on TV. But all are looking forward to the new webseries, “Venice” being produced by Crystal Chappell, written by Kim Turrisi, and directed by Hope Royaltey that has caught the attention of the media recently and created a lot of buzz around the internet. (I think Irna Phillips, creator of The Guiding Light, would be proud of Crystal for making this transition from television to the web.)

I know many fans feel overwhelmed by a mix of emotions, both happy and sad, as this great show goes off the air. Some have said they shared this show with their mothers and grandmothers and losing it is like losing them all over again. I didn’t watch Guiding Light with my mother, but I did find out that my grandmother used to listen to is on the radio. The show I watched with my mother was As The World Turns. A few months before her death I sat down with my mother and my sister to watch the ATWT 50th anniversary show, so I do understand what the loss of this show means to them.

At times when my heart has been overwhelmed with emotion and/or circumstance, this verse from the Bible often comes to mind:

"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."
John 12: 27-28a

My own paraphrase is that when you feel overwhelmed, tempted to say "God, get me out of this!" could be that all that has you tied up in knots is the very reason you're there. Perhaps there is a purpose to it all.

Now I can’t say that God created The Guiding Light to be a literal beacon of love to the whole world. But I know that it has brightened lives and lightened the load of millions of viewers around the world throughout its long and storied run on radio and television. I know that about 6,000 people now consider themselves to be part of a Big Purple family that didn’t even exist a year ago. Many lives have been changed and friendships have been formed as we have leaned on each other, given and received encouragement and fought for a common cause.

As you look at where you’ve been and what happens next, let me encourage you to look for what is positive...constructive...empowering…uplifting...and then you'll see the next step to take. I have a feeling that many more lives will be touched by the stories yet to be told by Crystal, Kimmy & Hope.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Afterglow Lives On

I watched the Daytime Emmys and I have mixed emotions about it all. I agree with many reviewers that I would have preferred less of some things and more of others, but after all it took to get this awards show on the air I was just grateful to be able to see it at all.

The opening number was a lot of fun and I appreciate the fact that the Otalia scene was the only one that did not include an award nominee. It still would have been nice to get a reaction shot of Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, though.

The Guiding Light tribute was too short and I understand it was actually edited down because they were running short on time. Seems a shame to do that to something that has become an American institution. I was glad to see all the cast members on stage and would have loved to have heard a few words from them, too, instead of the abrupt cut to commercial.

Some reviewers have complained that there were too many shots of the audience and too few of the cast. But it was wonderful to see all of the audience, filled with soap actors, producers, etc. standing to their feet and giving such an emotion-filled ovation to their colleagues on stage. I noticed more than a few tear-filled eyes in the crowd. And I'm so glad they got a shot of Kim Zimmer, giving her two-fisted thumbs up to them all while saying "Keep alive! Keep alive!" Everyone knows the genre is changing and perhaps dying if it doesn't evolve.

By the way, the original, four minute version of the Guiding Light video tribute can be found here: Michael Fairman Soaps It bothers me that apparently Blake was left out, though, because she's one of my favorite characters these days.

I loved Betty White's speech that ended with these words: "Its light may be dimmed but its afterglow will live on." I was thinking about that and made a new design for my Zazzle shop (other variations are available):

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Light at the End

Now that the last episode of Guiding Light on CBS is drawing near I see a rising chorus of "they should not have bothered" to even tell the story of Otalia because they didn't see all they wanted to see. So much anger before knowing who it is that limited the story and who they were trying to please. Claims that this couple was never seen as sexual in any way.

Yet so far we've heard Frank, Rafe, Blake & Josh all assuming that Olivia and Natalia have been sexually active all along. We've seen Olivia's desire, and although some would say we never saw it from Natalia we certainly saw it this week. Oh, and there was that time they talked about the fact that they both want it to happen.

I can't even begin to understand the "shouldn't have bothered" point of view though all that matters is the end of the story.

Over the past few months I saw scenes that were brilliantly written and beautifully played by two of the most talented actresses I've ever had the privilege to watch. Everything from silly humor to life-changing heartbreak and angst and the promise of hope for something better yet to come.

Story-wise, I saw a woman who was once the town pariah finding that she had friends who reached out to her in her time of grief. A woman who thought she'd never find love was transformed by it. A woman of faith was not depicted as a complete idiot or a judgemental fool but as someone who sincerely sought to know God and His truth and live accordingly. I saw that love transforms people and those who have lost hope can find it again.

That was worth tuning in for. I'm glad they told this story. Glad that I saw the people of Springfield encouraging this relationship of two women in love. Okay, maybe not all of the people of Springfield, but even one would have been more than most other shows on daytime have given us.

It would have been wonderful to have seen this show stay on the air at least for another year or two so we could see their story unfold more completely. (Not just their story, but all the others, too) Just because that didn't happen, I'm not going to claim that nothing good came from this story. I truly believe that one reason this story was put on air was to try to reach the minds and hearts of the general audience, those who do not support same sex relationships. And I know it has worked for some. Who knows how many votes may have been changed, how many families reunited, how many people find their own personal peace in part because of the way this story played out on screen, just the way it was.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Just a Soap Opera

My history with soaps began back in the days when they were a half hour in black and white. There were only three channels on my TV and there was a pretty good chance that whatever you were watching was the same thing almost everybody else was watching. Some TV shows became a part of our collective consciousness, like watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.

My earliest memory of watching soap operas was during my preschool years when my mother turned on As the World Turns during lunch every day. We were watching that day in November when Nancy Hughes was interrupted by Walter Cronkite telling us that the president has been shot in Dallas. I lived in Dallas. I could climb up on the swingset in my backyard and see the skyscrapers downtown where it had just happened. I watched my mother cry and wonder why anyone would want to do that to that nice man I’d seen on TV. For the next three days the only thing that we saw on TV - all three channels – was news of the assassination.

It was something we faced together as we all watched it unfold.

Years later I only watched soaps during the summer or those few special days I’d stay home from school with a cold or stomach ache. And it was like coming home again. Lisa was still there, Nancy was still serving tea or washing dishes, and there was Dr. Bob, at the hospital. All was right with the world. Then one summer I started watching All My Children with my sister (who I suspect had a crush on Phil Brent). After that I tuned in to see that Erica was still getting herself in trouble and Grandma Kate was still baking cookies and Dr. Joe was still running Pine Valley Hospital. Now and then I’d take a peek at the Young and the Restless or Days of Our Lives or the Doctors for a few weeks but the one I stuck with was All My Children. One Life to Live came later.

Fast forward a decade or two. I’d been stuck at home with a bad sinus infection for weeks, feeling very isolated from the rest of the world. I got on the internet and looked up some information about my soap, the current storylines, and my two favorite actors. I found a message board for Bianca & Maggie, the characters played by Eden Riegel and Elizabeth Hendrickson. I discovered that many of the members of this online community were lesbians, hoping that the show would make the two best friends a couple. As the wife of a Baptist minister I was an odd fit for a group like that. I was sure many of these women had been hurt and judged by church people before and I wasn’t sure how I would be received. What I found was a wonderfully diverse and accepting group and many have become great friends of mine in “real life” as I’ve attended special events with them and some have stopped by my town for visits when on vacation. We’ve been there for each other during the ups and downs of our favorite storylines and through very real job losses and tragedies. When my mother died these friends helped me cope, popping up online to ask me how I was doing or to give me a laugh or a virtual hug when I needed it most.

When some of my BAM friends told me that I should be watching Guiding Light, I listened and I’m glad I did. They told me about an old fashioned love story, the slow-building kind soaps had forgotten how to tell. They told me the acting was wonderfully subtle, not over-the-top the way too many soaps had become. And they told me one of the actresses involved was Crystal Chappell who had been a favorite of mine when she played Maggie Carpenter on One Life To Live.

So I watched Guiding Light one day back in February. Did I mention the romance that was slowly building involved two women? That didn’t matter to me. Love is love and these two were magic together on screen. The style of the show was very different from other soaps I’d watched. They used handheld cameras and small sets, making me feel like I was right in the room with the characters. The actors were so compelling I forgot they were acting and I wanted to tune in tomorrow to see what happened to them next.
And isn’t that what a soap opera is supposed to do?

I joined the Big Purple Dreams message board for "Otalia" and plunged headlong into another online community along with many of my BAM friends and few thousand others from all over the world. I even wrote postcards and letters and made t-shirts and buttons to try to save Guiding Light from cancellation or find it a new home on another network. I thought it ironic when I found out that my grandmother, also the wife of a Baptist minister, used to listen to Guiding Light on the radio.

Today no actors will be going to work at Guiding Light because the last scenes were taped yesterday. Some of them have been on Twitter staying in touch with the fans, letting us share in their experiences as this American institution comes to a close. It has been a difficult, emotional journey for all who are associated with the show, many of whom have given it their all for decades. I am grateful to them, more than I can say, for opening their hearts to us and letting us share in that journey with them.

There are those who say the soap genre is dying and they may be right. The world is changing and there may not be a place for soap operas anymore. All My Children is headed for LA but when I tune in next year, will Erica still be there? Will anybody?

So many things have changed during the 45+ years that I’ve been watching soap operas. But as I’ve watched the many ups and downs of my favorite characters I see that some things never change.

We can still learn from our mistakes and try to do better.

We can forgive and find healing when hearts are broken. And we must learn to do this because…

We still need each other…

…to laugh together
…to cry together
…to hope together
…to make a better future for all our children.

Maybe it’s not just a soap opera after all.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Happy Birthday, Debbie!

Today is my big sister's birthday.

Just a little older than I am, she stepped out first and gave me a good example to follow. She has a way of doing things with a little something extra, adding a touch of spice, a giggle, a little flair to just about eveything she does.

I remember once when I was a teenager, getting ready for one of my (rare) dates in high school, and nothing was going right. My clothes didn't look right, my hair wasn't cooperating and I was close to a meltdown.

But my sister was home from college that weekend and she came to my rescue. She looked at me and said, "Oh here, wear this with that!", pulling out something of hers that was just what the outift needed. I don't even remember what it was now, but it made everything work. Then she took a brush and with a couple of swipes at my hair I was a new person.

How did she do that?

I never knew, but I was glad she did.

She's still doing that, whether it's a simple potluck dinner, or sifting through the memories of our childhood as we cleaned out our parents' house so it could be sold.

She makes everything better.

And I love her for it.

Happy Birthday, Debbie!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Easy Ecommerce Solution

I've been doing business online for a couple of years now and when I'm looking for new ideas, I listen to what this guy says. He's been at it for a lot longer than I have and he knows what he's talking about. When he says Google is up to something that could be very useful to smaller vendors and make selling online easier...well, that got my attention. Here's his blog entry about Google Checkout and how it could help you. I'm certainly looking into it:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I can blog today.

I would have had a hard time doing that yesterday or the day before because my cable internet service was out. That's two days. I've had glitches in my service before but that's the longest it's been down since the last time a hurricane came through here.

I was not a happy camper.

I couldn't check on my Etsy shop or my Zazzle shop to answer customer inquiries or list anything new. I couldn't do any of the usual things I do online. Keep in mind that I'm usually at home without a car all day and the internet is my link to the world.

So today, Broadstripe, I salute you with the above photo of a button, made from a recycled vintage magazine, that I have for sale in my Etsy shop.

I call it "Frustration."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Visitors from the UK

You never know who you're going to meet in Annapolis, Maryland.

This morning at my church in Annapolis I met a family from the UK. They had arranged a house exchange with another family from our area and come here for their vacation. I had a very enjoyable conversation with Claire and her husband (I think he said his name was Tom, although I confess I don't remember names very well these days!) as we talked about our teen-aged daughters. I met their daughters, Lydia and Charlotte and was thoroughly charmed by them. I only wish my own daughter, Jackie, was far enough along in her recovery from jaw surgery that she could have been there to meet them, too. Jackie loves making new friends, particularly friends from other countries. I told them that Jackie is an anime artist and they told me anime is very big in the UK. I know they would have enjoyed comparing notes. Lydia said one of her teachers had similar jaw surgery and asked me tell Jackie she hopes she recovers quickly.

As I told them about our daughter, Becky I mentioned her Etsy shop and mine and gave them one of my business cards so they could check them out. I hope they'll stop by here and read this and find the link to Becky's shop because I think Lydia and Charlotte would find some fun stuff there. We've both enjoyed having international customers and knowing that the things we make could end up anywhere in the world.

So, if you're reading this, Claire, I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know. I just want to say that I wish we could have spent more time with your family and I'd love to stay in touch!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Christmas in July

I'm participating in the Etsybloggers Street Team's Christmas in July sale. I keep a Christmas section in my Etsy shop all year long, letting some of the items expire as the year goes on and bringing them back during the fall. This year I'm bringing them back early and all Christmas items are marked half the usual price so get 'em while you can!

This is your once a year chance to get my handsewn Puzzle Ball Christmas Ornaments for only $20. Every stitch made by hand, I don't use a sewing machine for these. I'm considering extending my sale through the month of August, too, since it'll take me a while to make more of my Mini-Puzzle Ball Ornaments (I sold out last year).

I also have my Pocket Mirror Christmas Ornaments which were good sellers for me last year. Some are my original designs, some made with one of a kind images recycled from vintage magazines, but any and all will be beautiful hanging on your Christmas tree.

Grab a few of my "Merry Christmas Darling" buttons to add to your packages this year or let me make some custom buttons for every member of the family!

Keep checking back because I'm planning to add something new to my Christmas section every day!

By the way...the cross-stitched log cabin wreath posted at the top of this blog entry is not for sale. It's one I did many years ago and I'm keeping it. But I am considering putting a photo of it on mugs in my Zazzle shop, so I'll let you know when that's available. Stay tuned....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Father's Birthday

Today is my father's birthday, but he'll tell you he's not technically 80 years old until 11:37pm. At least that's what he said when I called him this afternoon to wish him a happy birthday. It would be wonderful to be with him today and hug his neck, but we live in different states now. The funny thing is he now lives in the same small Texas town where I lived for 11 years before moving to Maryland. And he's now married to one of my dear church friends (a childhood friend of his), surrounded by many other good friends of mine who are all taking very good care of him. That's a comfort to me now that I'm so far away.

We had a birthday ritual, of sorts, during my growing up years. The conversation would go something like this.

Dad: How old are you now?

Donna: I'm twelve!

Dad: Oh, oh...twelve! That's right.... Why, by the time I was your age I was fifteen already!

Is it any wonder I was never very good at Math?

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Good Report

Headed into Baltimore today for my daughter's first follow-up appointment with her surgeon and we got a good report. Everything is as it should be and tonight...she got to have mashed potatoes for dinner! She's been a good sport about the liquid diet but that really hit the spot! We still have several weeks of recovery before she's back to her old self...or should I say, her new self...but we're getting there!

Here are a couple of photos I took with my cell phone as we were driving into downtown Baltimore...a very interesting town!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Home From the Hospital

The title of this blog entry is something I felt like I'd never be able to say when we found ourselves staying at the hospital a couple of days longer than we expected after my daughter's jaw surgery last week. The surgery itself went very well, just as it should. It was the recovery process that presented most of the problem. I don't want to dwell on the negative so I won't go into a commentary on hospital red tape, which was only part of the problem. I prefer to shine a spotlight on the wonderful medical professionals we encountered during our stay.

Let me just say that I have the utmost respect for nurses. I can't say enough to thank them for all they do. I hope they realize the impact they have on our lives when we need them the most. They become part of the story of my family as we remember those difficult times and the people who somehow made it a little easier to bear.

My daughter is doing very well, recovering nicely. She's in good spirits about her liquid diet that will last for the next six weeks or so, too. We thank all our friends and family for their prayers and good thoughts and expressions of concern for her well-being.

No picture with this article...maybe someday I'll get her permission and post before and after photos!

I hope to make more regular entries to this blog now. I've missed it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What Would Olivia Do?

I've had a lot of fun playing around with designs for fans of "Guiding Light" and adding them to my Zazzle shop. This week it was announced that the extraordinary Crystal Chappell will be moving on to "Days of Our Lives" this fall. In honor of her character on "Guiding Light", Olivia Spencer, I designed this:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eden Riegel Charity Auction

Last fall I had the privilege of attending a luncheon for Eden Riegel (Bianca Montgomery on All My Children) along with about 30 or so other fans where we auctioned off some items autographed by Eden to benefit the Much Love Animal Rescue shelter in Los Angeles. We had so much fun with the auction that we ran out of time and decided to auction off the remaining items on eBay someday. Round One of that auction finished last week with a little over $200 as the result and Round Two has just begun.

This time, the money raised will go to support Eden's latest endeavor, a half-marathon to benefit the APLA (AIDS Project Los Angeles). Every penny of the winning bids will go to Eden's fund for this worthy cause.

Featured in this auction is a Teddy Bear I sewed by hand, signed by Eden Riegel. This is the only one that will be offered during this auction. Three of my bears were auctioned off at the luncheon last fall and I even got a couple of special orders from other luncheon attendees. What can I say, my bears are cute and cuddly and made with love! We could have offered more but my fingers can only fly so fast, so they are by definition, limited edition items. The bidding just began yesterday and already this little cutie is up to $100!

Tonight I added an additional note to the description of that listing: the bear is wearing a special one-of-a-kind button pin bearing the logo I designed for the Luncheon With Eden.

See that very special Teddy Bear and all the items currently available, just click here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Save the Light Rally NYC 5.22.09

I've made no secret of the fact that I watch soap operas. I keep the TV on while I'm doing my artsy craftsy thing every day and my soaps keep me company while I work. A few years ago, when I was stuck in the house with a sinus infection and feeling particularly isolated, I looked around on the internet and found a way to connect with other soap fans on message boards and my life has been enriched as a result.

I now have friends all over the world, many of whom I've met in person at fan events or when they vacationed in my area. I've even made some of my teddy bears to be autographed and auctioned off for charity at a luncheon for Eden Riegel in October of last year.

So when I was contacted by organizers of a very special event, I was delighted to do what I could for the cause. Fans of Guiding Light will be joining together for a rally in New York City on May 22, 2009. The organizers of this event found me because I'd made some buttons for "Team Otalia", the fans of the love story of Olivia and Natalia on Guiding Light. These buttons had been mentioned by some soap reporters who covered a fan event at Universal Studios. It was Andrea Berry of eLife magazine who remembered those buttons and told the organizers of the rally how to find me. I put together some designs and now, you can get your buttons for the rally here.

This show has been on the air for 72 years (first radio, then TV) and was recently canceled by CBS. I just started watching this one a few months ago and was immediately hooked by some of the best writing and acting I've seen on daytime TV in years. Like millions of other fans, I am hopeful that the show can find a new home on another network.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guest Writer

I have a friend who does a lot of writing for his own blogs and others around the internet and he asked me to be a guest writer for one of his blogs. does a great job covering some basics about technology and the internet and if you could use a few tips about such things you really ought to bookmark that one.

I'll be writing a series of articles about working with video. This one is about editing a video to be uploaded and shared online using youtube or vimeo or other video sharing sites. There are many different ways to do this and I've written about just one. If you'd like to share your favorite tips or sites on this topic I hope you'll leave a comment. I'd be glad to pass them along in my next article.

Here's my article on

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

For Natsumi

While our Japanese exchange student was with us we began to see signs of Spring. It looked like our daffodils might bloom before she left. Each day we would tell her, "Maybe you will see them bloom while you are here." But it didn't happen. Until a couple of days after she left.

So here, Natsumi...these are for you:

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cultural Exchange

I've clearly been away from this blog for far too long! Now that I've had a couple of weeks to think about it, I want to tell you about our Japanese exchange student, Natsumi.

It started with my daughter's interest in anime and all things Japanese. She took Japanese language classes at the local community college during a couple of summers and eagerly joined the Anime Club when she got to high school. When plans were made for a few students to go to Japan and for Japanese students to come here in exchange, a Japan Club was established to sponsor this activity. My daughter helped teach her fellow students a little of the language as they made plans for the trip. Her experience in Japan last summer was unforgettable, and not really my story to tell, so I won't.

A couple of weeks ago, we were honored to be a host family for a student from Japan, Natsumi. She stayed with us for one week and quickly became another member of the family. Attending school with my daughter each day and joining us in all our activities, we tried to give her a little glimpse of life in America. She helped me make a few pocket mirrors and pack up some Etsy orders. She always offered to help with meal preparation and clean up. She watched a little American Idol and played some Wii and had a fun afternoon of karaoke at a friend's house. She even got to meet Big Sister when she was home from college one afternoon.

Natsumi represented her country and her family well and we have missed her! The morning they left was a teary one as all the host families and students gathered at the bus on the school parking lot. Posing for photographs with new friends, autographing t-shirts in English and Japanese, and hugs and hugs and hugs and finally...goodbye!

Thank you, Natsumi. I'm glad you came to our family.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Carnival Time!

I've participated in several of the Etsybloggers Blog Carnivals and they're always fun. I enjoy the challenge of the suggested topics but sometimes I find I'm distracted by other things as the deadline approaches and don't get my submission in on time. Not this time!

The topic for this one is about why you opened a shop on Etsy and what you like about being an Etsy seller.

I blame my daughter for all of it. She's The Pink Samurai on Etsy and you really ought to take a minute to check out her shop and her blog. She's grown up watching me work as a freelance photographer and dabble with other artsy stuff. She's been a great tester of my child-safe plush toys like my teddy bears and puzzle balls, too. She started an Etsy shop and soon encouraged me to do the same. Together we learned the ropes about running an Etsy shop and we still compare notes.

One of my favorite things about running an Etsy shop is all the wonderful people I've met. Many of my customers have become my friends, returning for repeat orders. I've gotten to know a great group of other moms through the Etsymom and CafeMom Street Teams. I'm learning more about the arts in my area of the country through the EtsyCREST Street Team. And, of course, the Etsyblogger teams has helped me learn the ins and outs of blogging and kept me writing.

This month I've been the Featured Etsyblogger and the Etsybloggers have really outdone themselves. I've been so encouraged by all of these bloggers that I decided to share them all with you. Go see what they've been saying about me:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Bear With Spirit

Now this custom teddy bear has team spirit!

A friend of mine sent me an old sweatshirt to recycle, complete with team logo. I cut out the pieces for the bear so that the team logo will appear on the left side of the bear's chest. I haven't put it all together yet because I still need to embroider her nephew's initials on the bear's backside in thread that matches the logo. But that's on my agenda for today. I'll post pictures of the bear when I get it all finished in a couple of days...I hope!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All Done

When I'm working on a sewing project I'm spending less time on the computer, which means less blogging. That's why it's been so long between posts. I've been working on a new custom teddy bear, this one in pink flannel, and it's finally finished.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Must Read for Parents Whose Kids Have Ipods

I've got a friend with a new blog and if you've got a kid with an ipod...heck, even if you don' really ought to read this:

For you it may be a Nintendo DS or a another electronic device of some sort, but I'm sure every parent knows how this feels!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CPSIA...What Now?

So much is at stake with the passage of the CPSIA and confusion runs rampant. Here's an excellent way to try to sort out how it effects me and so many crafters like me. Just read this:

Then click on this for more helpful information:

Save Handmade!