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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Doubt


 
I write today, not plagued with doubt, but certainly thinking about it.  It's easy to let doubt get the best of us - especially self-doubt.  She's (why do I think doubt is feminine?) an evil beast and can bring us to a screeching halt.  This happened to me earlier this week.  I find I spend half my time creating something that I think is just too cute, too adorable, would look lovely in any one's home.  I spend the other half of my time doubting that anyone else will even like it, much less want it for their own.  It's an ugly cycle, but one I think many of us experience.
 
I spent this week working on items for a Classroom Creation for my children's school Gala and Auction.  The theme for the 8th grade basket was "kitchen" and so I came up with the idea of making quilted place mats, napkins and napkin cozies.   Fall, as you know, just speaks to me, so I decided they had to be Fall-ish.  I wanted them to be reversible, fun, but classy, sweet, nice, something that would look great in any household....after all, you never know who might be bidding on the 8th grade class creation!
I put the fronts of the place mats together while I thought about making napkin rings (my dear friend Rebecca's idea, by the way).  It occurred to me that the napkin rings should be just as pretty as the place mat, should also be reversible and be able to lay down or stand up.

Once I got the tops of the place mats finished, I texted Kaitlyn photos -- I thought, "they turned out so cute!"  Then, the self doubt crept in.  Kaitlyn began googling place mats on-line.  You can buy really cute place mats for next to nothing....I'm talking like a couple bucks each!  And they are, eek, I hate to say, just as adorable as the ones I spent days making.....the doubt began to grow....
Next, I worked on napkin rings.  I came up with these fun "rings" and decided they are really more of a cozy than a ring.  They are fully reversible and come together with just a bit of Velcro.
Who in the world, I thought, will ever like something like this?
 
Despite the ever growing doubt, I kept at it and decided the place mats should also be reversible and and maybe the back side should be a bit more fun and funky than the front - an entirely different look.  I put everything together and used a lovely variegated thread to quilt the place mats and the napkin cozies.  The doubt was substantial now and I was seriously considering shutting down the whole operation.  No one is going to bid on this basket because NO ONE is going to like these items that I have just spent two days making.  Ugh....doubt surely is one mean and vindictive monster.
 
Then, I opened up my journal to a page from January 1, 2011.  This verse hit me like a ton of bricks:
 
      Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not
      be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you
      wherever you go.  ~ Joshua 1:9
 
I immediately translated this to:  Don't be afraid, don't waste time being discouraged.  God is with you in everything you make, everything your hand touches.  Continue on....keep at it.....someone, somewhere, is bound to like these.
 
I pushed the doubt away and finished up.  I even ordered some lovely Christmas batik fabric to make Christmas place mats to put on etsy, or sell at a craft show.  After all, I decided, even if no one in the whole world likes my "stuff" - I like it and I LOVE every minute I spend making it.  And, after all, God is with me in this; He is, after all, with all of us - and really, THAT is all that truly matters. 
 
After I finished up the place mats, napkins and cozies, I crocheted up 4 dishcloths (because I personally, am addicted to hand crocheted dishcloths) to throw in the basket.
 
Notice, they match the place mats!
Now, it's on to fun Christmas stuff.....can't wait!
 
Until next time,
Kathleen




Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More about "Off the Trodden"....

 
Fall is upon us!  I could literally sing!  The weather has cooled down and there is not a 90 or 100 degree day in sight on the long term forecast.  This glorious weather put me in the perfect mood to finish up the 2nd in my "Five Pumpkin" series, a small quilt, which would actually be quite lovely as a bed rug in the guest bedroom or as a wall hanging.

Lots of folks have been asking about the name.  Why "Off the Trodden Trail"?  When I first started thinking about changing the direction and focus of my blog, I kept hearing a phrase over and over in my head...."off the beaten path."  I  knew why I was hearing the phrase.  It seems as though most everything I do is quite literally "off the beaten path."  I don't seem to take the road more traveled - ever - and that's not always because I get lost a lot!  I left a great, money making, corporate job almost 13 years ago to stay home with my children.  I love to do things that few gals my age even consider....I rug hook, sew and quilt.  And, I've been doing these things for as long as I can remember.  In college, when friends were out partying on a Saturday night, my roommate and I (you know who you are, dear friend) were doing cross stitch and watching Saturday Night Live! 


I sit at soccer and baseball games and I knit, crochet or stitch.  I can't barely watch a TV show without something in my hands, a rug hook, a needle, a piece of fabric. 

My family is off the beaten path too.  My son plays the piano, trumpet, bass guitar and just lately, is learning to play the ukulele.  He loves sports too, but if he had to choose, he'd play the piano rather than basketball.  On the other hand, my youngest daughter would rather play sports than do just about anything (except maybe ride horses, but then, that's a sport too).  She's musical as well, but sports definitely come first in her mind.  My eldest stayed home with me over Christmas break from college to knit and craft, rather than do what the rest of her 20-something friends were doing - partying.  My husband loves to grocery shop.  He's the coupon cutting, price matching, phenom of our family.  We've flown the Nebraska flag in every State we've ever lived, including Colorado (we weren't the popular family on that block), Texas and Indiana. 

I was raised Catholic (12 years of Catholic school, baby!); my husband, Lutheran.  We attend probably the most unique Lutheran church in all of Omaha, maybe even the State of Nebraska.  People regularly tell me that my sweet husband should have converted.....the wife isn't "suppose" to convert.  Well, again, not walking that beaten path.


I could go on and on about all the ways in which I am off the beaten and even more ways in which my family is off the beaten, but the bottom line here is that "off the beaten path" was not available as a blog name or an etsy shop name.  Seems a travel agency had that title secured long ago!  So, I used my  handy-dandy on-line thesaurus and looked up synonyms for beaten....right off the bat, trodden popped up.  That seemed to work and I liked it because it's a word we don't often hear.  Next, I looked for words similar to path and of course, trail came up.  Trodden Trail....I liked it immediately and thus was born...."Off the Trodden Trail."

So now you know!

I like to pop open the Bible and look for a verse that jumps out at me in the mornings, when I am doing my daily prayer and meditation.  Some days, it's as if that verse was MEANT for me.  Some days, not so much.  Today's verse, comes from the Book of Psalms:

                  This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
                                                ~ Psalm 118:24

I plan to, hope you can too!

Until next time,
Kathleen








Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why "Off the Trodden Trail" ?

Pumpkin Hill
design by Bunny Hill Designs ~ Anne Sutton
Stitched by me!
 
Weeks ago, I promised an explanation for the sudden change in name, focus and design of the blog and my etsy shop.  There really does not seem to be a fluid way to explain going from "Kathleen's Creations" to "Off the Trodden Trail".  I'm sure many are thinking, "What the.....???"
 
Months and months ago, it came to my heart that I wanted (needed?) to incorporate my Faith into the blog so that the blog could become more what it is, an actual part of me.  Everyday, I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a seamstress, a quilter, a rug hooker, a stitcher.  Some days I play some of these roles better than the others and some days, I just don't do anything very well.  Regardless of the day and whether I scream at my children, praise my husband, hook a rug or bind a quilt, I pray.  Often, I pray A LOT.  More and more, I am finding that the days that begin and end with prayer and have prayer everywhere in between, are the very best days. 
 
So, it seemed somehow inauthentic of me to write the blog and leave out this most crucial part of my life.  It all runs together.  The hand-crafts I do soften me, they teach me patience and help me to find a beauty in the world that I believe I would not otherwise see.  Just like my children.  Yep!  They are a big lesson in patience and certainly, certainly, they show me a beauty not be be found elsewhere.  My husband plays a big role, sometimes, he is the knitting pattern I just don't understand but often, he is the comfort of a warm quilt on a chilly night. And, I find, God is at the center of it ALL.  Sometimes, I forget to listen for His small, still voice.  Sometimes, I become too wrapped up in MY....my life, my family, my money.....I forget HE is there.  Those are invariably bad days.  But as I pull a loop through a rug, chat with a friend or run my kids to and fro, if I keep a constant prayer on my lips, mediate on the good, thank HIM for my oh-so many blessings, then the days begin to soften, the beauty is abundant, I get a hug from a child or even hear that rare, "I love you." 
 
And life is good.
 
I finished the quilt at the top over a year ago.  It is one of my favorites, but has never been quilted and bound.  I'm bad like that.  I get the good and fun part of a project done, move on and forget to go back.  I still love to hang this quilt topper in the Fall, and always seem to find a fun new critter or fabric that I had forgotten about.  The pattern is called "Pumpkin Hill" and is by Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs (www.bunnyhilldesigns.com).  Ms. Sutton may be one of my all time favorite designers -- I have completed several of her projects and have several more just calling my name! 
 
By Friday, I should have another of my own designs just about finished....but here is a quick sneak peak:
Until next time,
Kathleen

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chucking it all....


Happy Monday!  At least I think.  The excitement and newness of the school year has apparently worn off and my children were less than pleased to be dropped off for academics this morning.  It made me sad.  A big part of me wants to see my children always happy, always smiling, excited and refreshed.  Realistically, I know this is not life.  A huge part of life is suffering the daily grind, going to school or work even when we don't want to go.  A big life lesson is that sometimes, we just need to show up.  We don't need to be happy or excited about it - we just need to be there.  And, we need to try our best, give it our all, even when we don't feel like it.  That's a hard lesson. 

I had a refresher course in that lesson this morning.  Yesterday, an icky-yuck thing happened and I wanted to just chuck it all.  I really wanted to shut down the blog, close up my etsy site, crawl under the covers and hide from the dark side of humanity.  But after a not-so-decent night's sleep and the chat I had with my youngest about putting one foot in front of the other, even when it's not easy, I decided to try, try again.  Still, it's not easy.

So I have a hand hooked, primitive rug on etsy that I spent nearly a year making.  It measures something like 32 x 64 and was one of the biggest challenges of my textile career.  I really can't assign a value to this rug, but I looked for similar rugs on etsy and priced it at $1,100.  I know, I know...that's a ton.  I may actually have more than $1,100 worth of wool in this rug and I couldn't even begin to count the hours I spent pulling loops.  But I decided to put it on etsy just to see if people liked it (they seem to) and if it sells, it sells, if not, well, I think it looks terrific in our family room.  Anyway, I had a hit on the rug yesterday from a seemingly interested buyer.  Well, you know the old saying, "if it seems too good to be true".......... and it was.  Later in the day, we discovered that this interested "buyer" was actually a scammer, trying to either get cash or a free rug we're really not sure which.  After being so incredibly excited at having possibly sold the rug, it was such a major let down to find out that the person wasn't interested in the rug, only in running a scam.

This whole experience made me feel very vulnerable and actually kind of scared.  It made me wonder about the sort of person who would go on etsy and try to scam from someone who has poured their heart into making something.  It made me question the work I do everyday, the crafting and writing and constantly thinking about what to make next for people to enjoy, to use, to cherish. 

And, so, this morning, my original idea really was to give up and hide under the covers -- that is, after I took the kids to school and lectured them about the power of positive thinking, trying your best and giving it your all, regardless of the circumstance!  And then my youngest and I had that conversation and I came home to finish these shoes, Zentangled with Bible Verses.  As I was putting the laces on them and re-reading some of the Bible verses I sketched, I realized that for my children, I'd like to be that person who does run away at the first sign up trouble.  After all, the Apostle Paul wrote while chained in prison.  Jesus ministered to people walking up Calvary, beaten and bearing a wooden cross.  My little incident yesterday was a blip on the radar of my life, my craft, my writings. 


And so, on this absolutely gorgeous Fall Monday morning, I am back at it, writing, crafting and being a mom.  It's not easy, but oh so completely worth it. 

Here's to a Blessed week, the Fall breeze and all that is good and true and pure in life.

~ Kathleen

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Comfort

Right off the bat, I have to fess up and tell you that today I am hopping on the band trail of one of my favorite writers, Christian bloggers and just all around favorite new person.  Her name is Michelle DeRusha....before you read further, hop over to her website "Graceful" at www.michellederusha.com.  We're doing a lot of hopping today, aren't we?

If you did hop over to Graceful, you'll see that there is a fabulous give-away going on today and some terrific information about a new book coming out by another great Christian author, Donna Pyle.  Aren't you glad you listened and hopped over?  You didn't listen?  Come on, move those little fingers of yours, hop over there --- now.....you'll be ever so glad you did.

www.michellederusha.com

Anyway! I found Michelle one Saturday morning early this past summer, when I googled "Christian Bloggers".  She came up almost immediately on my list, I checked out her blog, liked her on Face Book and was immediately hooked.  She is also a writer for a newspaper here in Nebraska and has been a huge source of inspiration for me lately.  I've laughed at her posts, cried at her posts and been mostly just very inspired and motivated by her writings.  As you can see (cuz you did hop over there, right?) today's post is about a book by Donna Pyle called The God of all Comfort.  Now, I have not yet read the book, certainly plan to, but like so many things do, it got me to thinking.  We all need a little comfort now and again, don't we?  I, personally, will admit to needing a whole lotta comfort much of the time.  Even when life is "good", it gets stressful, we (I) get frazzled, it seems we can't ever do it all.  We all take comfort in different things.  I find much comfort in my family.  Depending on the situation, I often find myself "needing" to call my eldest who is away at college.  Often I don't even tell her what is going on, I just need to hear her voice, listen to her upbeat and positive attitude and the comfort flows.




I'm not a nighttime person.  I'm every so slightly afraid of the dark (embarrassed to admit) and would sooner be fast asleep than out and about late at night.  I like to be up early, watch the sun come up -- everything seems less scary then.  But at night, my source of comfort comes from my youngest.  We snuggle up together to watch 10 or 15 minutes of a show before she goes to sleep.  Or we read.  Sometimes, we chat.  Often, when she is in school and playing two sports (like now) I just watch her sleep.  Ah....the comfort.  And, very often, it's my two boys, my son and husband, who offer me the comfort.  They have strong arms, strong hugs, I feel protected with them, safe and loved.


These are all good and wonderful things.  But my point really is this -- God is our ultimate source of comfort.  He is there in the worst of life's ugly moments, He is there is the darkest and scariest of nights, His arms are the strongest, with Him, I am always safe and loved....even when I am all alone. 



As for the photos in this post.  This is my latest quilted wallhanging or table topper, a wool applique design by yours truly.  It's of course Fall-ish.....my favorite season, another one of my comforts.  I hate summer, I hate the heat, I hate to sweat and this summer was THE worst in Nebraska.  So, I look to cooler days and pumpkins, crows in the trees and falling leaves.  My very favorite.  This design is available on etsy (finished) and since this is an original design, I've also made the top available in a kit with a full size pattern.


To finding comfort where we can, but especially in HIM.

Until next time,
Kathleen

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Long Weekend

It's been a lovely, long weekend.  We've rested and watched movies.  My husband has worked in the yard (a bunch) and I've done lots and lots of stitching and added some items to my etsy shop.  

Victorian inspired earrings (lots of different pairs, colors and sizes)




And, the "Barnyard Animal" rug....

I am thankful for the blessings of a long weekend and an impromptu dinner with some very new friends last night and I got to thinking.  Sometimes we meet a new person and think "Oh, someone just like me!"  Other times we meet someone and think "Heavens, we've got nothing in common."   My husband likes most everyone on first impact.  It takes me a long while to decide.  I used to be that person who mistrusted and disliked most everyone in the beginning.  A dear, old friend used to tease me that she knew we were going to be friends forever because I hated her right off the bat.  She's right -- I did -- how awful is that?  In fact, of my four very closest, closest friends....I did not like a single one of them at first meet.  No particular reason, I just took one look at each of them and decided they were not going to be one of my people

My husband, through action only (probably because he KNOWS he can't tell me anything) has by example shown me the best way to meet someone new is to give them the benefit of the doubt.  He assumes everyone is a good person.  Sometimes, they let you down.  Every once in a while, you find that one person who you really thought was going to be all that and a bag of chips, uh, really isn't....not so much.  But mostly, you find, that by giving someone the benefit of the doubt, you open yourself up to a new perspective, a new idea, a fresh way of looking at things.  And maybe, just maybe by doing this, you find yet another one of your people.

I was thinking about this at dinner last night.  After a wonderful meal, the four adults sat around getting to know each other and listening to the giggles, laughter and chatting of the three "tweens".  We have lots of similarities in our families.  Lots of moves across the country, great and fun things with our kids, sad and scary things with our kids, great pets, sad pet stories, funny house stories, great places we've live and a few not so great places we've lived.  While we sat there laughing and chatting, I was thankful I had opened myself up to these people.  And, I wondered what our lives would be like today if Jesus, like me, mistrusted and disliked everyone he met right off the bat?  He really was the very best example, wasn't He?  He had wonderful, glorious friends and many great times with them.  Some were lovely, fun, happy go-lucky types.  Others were criminals, liars and cheats.....sinners, just like us.  Some were right there with Him through it all, others betrayed Him to His dying day.  Yet, because Jesus opened His heart up to literally EVERYONE, we have the blessing and honor of living the lives we live today, saved and comforted by His word and His love and, to boot, wonderful friends who can call an impromtu dinner on a long weekend and make it such a special occasion.

To the Blessing of Friendships,
Kathleen