Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dudes: Listen Up

 Here's what I love.  I will be in some completely innocuous conversation with one of my male friends and he will (usually accidentally) reference something from my blog.  I pause, process, tilt my head to the side in gratitude and say, "You read my blog?"  

His answer: "Well, yeah, I mean...uhm..that one time and whatever so, OKAY, Yes, I read it. There."  
(Or something along those lines.)

Lately this conversation has happened with some surprising frequency which has my mind working in the direction of another blog...but more about that later.  

Today I would like to thank my male readership by introducing you to:

Sportsrant is written by Ryan Bearden...who because he married my favorite person and is the father of my favorite by default one of my favorite "guys."  And when I say Ryan is a "guy's guy"...I am NOT embellishing.  In fact, I once dated a man who said things like "I love Ryan" and "Are you kidding me?  Ryan was the best part of the whole night."  Sadly....that dude bailed....on me AND Ryan.  I bet he misses Ryan more...jack ass (him...not Ryan).

Anyhow...back to Sportsrant.  I usually read it with glaze-y eyes because I have NOT a clue as to what Ryan speaks of.  BUT...I DO enjoy his writing style and voice.  He's witty and I often laugh out loud...hopefully in the right spots...and most especially enjoy the times he includes an anecdote about his sweet Ella.  

While I am currently lazing about Mr. Bearden's guest bedroom as I am inclined to do (I get the BEST rest at Rancho de Bearden)...he is unavailable for an interview as he is hosting his family and preparing to watch the Alamobowl...I suspect with little enthusiasm.  Booo.  Ryan and I do agree on the Longhorns but grossly disagree on the Lakers.  

To my guy readers:  Enjoy Sportsrant!  (And now imagine the SportsCenter sound in your head.)

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

How I Displayed My Love This Year

So this post might be two days late....but then again I sort of run on that timeline it is befitting!

Every year I PLAN to creatively display the Christmas cards I receive in the mail and every year I fail to follow through with anything other than sliding them amongst my kitsch on the mantle.  Well, not so this year!  I used my noodle and came up with a no-sew way to create a pennant, banner thing which has a name but it completely escapes me right now.

Taking a cue from trend-o-rama Pinterest I decided on a rustic country-esque theme complete with twine, clothespins and old time western letters!  (All I am missing in the mason jars!)
Now...anyone who blogs will know that a "how to" blog is NO simple task.  So....challenge on, Patty! Here we go!

Step One:
Hop onto Microsoft Word and center one letter on a regular document page.  Use the default page settings-oh and make sure it is "portrait"-not "landscape."  I chose the word "Joy" on one page I centered the letter "J" in Circus Font at size 360.  I used a understated confetti like card-stock...but only because I was out of the natural brown stock I normally use.  Continue until you complete the word you have chosen.  (Did I really need to add that last directive?) printer screwed me a bit and left this icky ink stain...but I didn't freak out (a damn miracle, I tell you) because I knew what I had in mind and I would take care of the error easily.
Step Two:
Since your paper is 8 and 1/2 x 11...locate 4 1/4 at the bottom of your page and make a small mark with a pencil-in the event you need to erase.
Step Three:
As best you can-draw a "perfect diagonal" line from 4 and 1/4 to each top corner.  I probably could have pulled out some funky measuring tools...but I didn't.  I inhaled and hoped for the best.
Step Four:
Once you have drawn your triangle use a pair of seriously sharp and reliable paper snips.  If you mess worries!  I have plans for hiding those errors, as well!

Step Five:
Oh how I love my chalk!  Chalk it up!  I use colored decorating chalks which can be purchased at any craft/hobby store, paper crafting shop, and/or through your favorite paper crafting independent consultant.  In this case I used a sort of burnt sienna and then lightly added a light dusting of black because of the previous ink accident.  Take a cotton ball and LIGHTLY rub it into chalk.  
BEFORE YOU CHALK UP YOUR TRIANGLE....DAB IT ON YOUR CRAFT PAPER FIRST TO REMOVE EXCESS.  Craft paper also prevents you from chalking up your furniture.  Make certain to really chalk up the edges and corners.  This adds pop!
You will notice that rubbing the cotton ball on the actual letter will pull some of that printer ink off and away which creates a more worn look.  It's a win-win!
Step Six:
This is a little complicated and it's going to be a good challenge to put words to this.  Let's start with the ink sponging...
Take a sponge....any sponge.  I JUST happened to have purchased these through Stampin' Up, but prior to that I used kitchen sponges-I actually like how they worked a little better.  (Gasp!)

Dab your sponge in your favorite stamping ink.  I LOVE Brilliance!  It is all juicy and sparkly!  LOVE IT!  But, you can use anything.  I just find pigment ink pads help with sponging a little bit better.  

Now...take your sponge and CAREFULLY run it up and down the SIDES of your triangle.  You can MAYBE pull the ink a teeny tiny bit towards the image...but I wouldn't do that too much.  As you can see some of my ink got away from me...but not too much...just enough.

Sponge all the way around the edges of your triangles.
Step Seven:
What do I love even more than chalk?  My bone folder!  Oh yeah, snicker if you must...but this thing is a multi-purpose genius invention that is not made out of bone at all-at least I hope not!

Take the side of your bone folder (not the pointed edge) and place it up against the side of your paper triangle.  Move the folder back and forth along the edges of the triangle and you will start to break down the stiffness of the paper.  This will create a worn effect on the edges.  I usually put some serious elbow grease into this...I WANT a frayed look.  Again...roughen up all sides.
Your triangle edges should look old, curled and crumpled once you are done.

Step Eight:
I chose to hang my "joy" over my mantle.  My mantle is very precious to me.  I designed it and was a part of the installation so NO nail will ever find it's way into that mantle!  (And YES...I plan on taking it with me!)  Thus, I opted for command strips.  Follow the instructions.  If you don't, they will not hold!

I placed the command strips on the sides of my mantle.  I cut a LOOOOOOOOOOONG piece of twine and secured "O" on the twine with a clothespin.  (Exceedingly hard for me to locate-random, right?)  I got "O" right where I wanted it and tied both ends to each respective command strip...leaving some room for slack...but not too much as the heaviness of the cards will pull the twine down.  I attached another, longer piece of twine to create another string by which to hang more photos.

Step Nine:
Add each card, lovingly, as they arrive in your mailbox.  Enjoy the loving, laughing faces for as long as you would like!  I often keep my holiday cards up for MONTHS because, in fact, they fill me with such joy!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Let's Try This Again

Last night was poop.  Literal poop!  I got bit by the nasty bug and at a damn unfortunate time.  Good news: it was nothing a good howling cry, Gilmore Girls, Mary and Tessie and a erudite book about vampires (yes, it is possible) couldn't fix.  Oh...and a major prayer of apology and night long candlelight vigil to Jesus because today is HIS birthday!  

I am in a bit of a mad dash today.  
Wash dishes
Wrap presents
Pack for the next two days
Blog in celebration of Christ
Blog in stark contrast to yesterday's wholly ungrateful mess of words strung together
Get fancy, I mean really, fancy for Jesus
CNN documentaries on Christ

It is 11.06 am and ONLY the dishes are done.  When I was a little girl my grandmother once told me washing dishes was a special time because you could be very quiet and daydream about anything you wanted.  Ever since I have been a hand washer....

This morning I remembered some things I hadn't thought of in a long time.  When I was a very little girl department stores like Sears and JC Penny would send out ENORMOUS catalogs.  After Thanksgiving my mom and I would drink hot chocolate (with marshmallows) out of our delicate Santa Claus mugs while I circled which toys appealed to me most and then I would create a letter to Santa on stationary with holly and a candle at the bottom of the page.  I would diligently address the envelope to the North Pole.  I know now where they I came upon one just recently.  I suspect Santa left it behind for me to keep in my scrapbook!  He must have known one day I would turn into an avid paper crafter...wise old guy!

I also remember Christmas Eve bedtime was contingent upon me spotting the "Star of Bethlehem" in the sky.  I sat at that window for hours on end...searching for the brightest start I could find because surely Jesus' star shone brighter than any start in the universe.  I climbed into a red (certainly NOT fire retardant) nightgown and feigned sleep until I fell into sweet candy dreams.  

Yesterday I met a sweet angel named Margeaux.  She was walking around the farmer's market with a sling (as if to hold a baby) filled with broken, powdered candy canes.  She had a mess of red curls pulled back with a headband resembling a crown.  On her face was the most perfect constellation of red freckles.  When she walked up to me I thought of Strawberry Shortcake.  She was dressed in eleven shades of pink and had silver sequins Uggs to top off her outfit.  With every ounce of confidence her six year old world still owed her she said, "Would you like a Candy Cane?"  I responded, "Sure." She showed me her faux baby sling filled with the broken bits.  I asked her, "Are you selling these?"  She said, "Yes."  I said, "How much?"  She responded, "Oh, they are free."  To which I quizzically looked at her and said, "So you are not selling them?"  She stood her ground and said, "No."  I believe we were both confused.

I asked Margeaux who she belonged to.  With beaming pride she said, "My dad has the blue tent over there.  Do you see it?  He is the French man with CRAZY hair!  We are from (such and such farm).  I've got to go now."

That is EXACTLY the type of little girl I was...minus the European outfit!  (Sorry mom...but you would have NEVER allowed for that!)  I needed to meet myself again yesterday.  And I needed to meet myself again today-through this letter to Santa.  And tonight, at Mass, I will meet the big girl version of myself and thank God that He would deign to walk among us.  

Tonight I celebrate MY KING...and I know MY KING is the incarnation of little Patty and entrepreneurial Margeaux...his love is just that joyous.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

On the Eve of the Eve

Wrapping presents to Neil Young is probably not the best idea, at least not for me.  But I can't seem to make my finger click away from Neil tonight.

Funny thing...I forgot to log out of Pandora on a friend's iPad.  That friend had a party last night and didn't recognize the stations and so began deleting them.  I gave my friend a really hard time about it and indicated the grievous error could be remedied with a bottle of champagne.  I am not sure if my friend thought that was at all funny.  In fact, I am not sure my friend all...why seeing my Neil Young, John Prine, Tom Waits, John and June Cash, Merle Haggard, Grateful Dead, Patty Griffin, etc stations gone from the left side of the menu bar mattered so much.  I didn't realize how upset I would be either...or why for that matter.  

I grabbed a glass of wine, tucked my feet up under me and thought long and hard about why a mistake literally put an ache in my heart.  I didn't like the answer I came up with.

And so I sit here on the eve of the eve...a mess of upcycled, recycled, earth conscious gifts and trimmings in front of me like a jumbled mess.  I imagine tonight my heart might look like a similar mess of jumbled up recycled feelings I thought I had left out at the curb in the big, blue recycling bin.

The heart is funny....and so completely devoid of cognition.  It just feels, it doesn't remember, it doesn't judge, it doesn't condemn, it doesn't yell--at least mine doesn't, it forgives, it forgets.  I mean, given really is a lovely organ (or notion of an organ).  The heart is a child in the backyard doing for the sake of doing, feeling for the sake of feeling.  It is free from constraint.  It is is God.  

And yet, tonight night my heart does not feel Christ-like, which is a true embarrassment.  If ever my heart should be forgiving and is on the eve of the eve.  But it isn't...and I am not.  I still feel hurt and I still long for precious times gone by listening to Neil Young at 4 in the morning.  There...I said it.  And I just breathed...a big, huge breath...and a tear finally has permission to stream down my face.  

I had managed to escape the Christmas blues this year.  I think it is because I stayed 2000% busy until yesterday.  The quiet has been overwhelming and the stillness has been frightening.  Maybe the heaviness of the outside world has finally seeped in.  

God...I am so beautifully human, aren't I?   Thank you, God, for sharing with us your son.  Because of your grace I can sigh and cry and feel tattered and bruised.  I can hate myself for feeling this way and then hate myself for feeling guilty about feeling this way.  God, I am listening to The Beatles right now and several phrases seem relevant to you and me..."I am amazed at the way you are with me all the time.  I am amazed at the way I really need you.  You right me when I am wrong.  Help me sing my song."

Lord, on the eve of the eve....please help right me when I am wrong and help right me when I've been wronged.

Off to bed...shake these wicked blues off for a very special birthday party, tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cranberry Frizzsparkle

I needed a non alcoholic beverage for a party I hosted on Sunday.  I wanted to create something in keeping with the season but that had a sparkly kick to it without having to rely on champagne or prosecco.  

It is no exaggeration when I say I purchased some stuff and threw it together and summoned the mixology gods to shine their liquid light down upon me.  

Here's how it went...and I don't remember ounces so I am just going to call things big and medium, etc. Incredibly technical and precise, I know.  

1 big ass bottle of cranberry juice
1 plastic bottle of Topo Chico*---the biggest vessel it comes in---you know the one
simple syrup
*Any non-flavored sparkling water will work if your grocer does not carry Topo Chico

1) In a small saucepan bring 4 cups of water to a boil
2) Add 1 cup sugar
3) Zest in one orange
4) Grate in a smidge of nutmeg
5) Allow the sugar to completely dissolve and set aside for the syrup to thicken
6) Pour cranberry juice into a large bowl or glass vessel with a spigot
(Make sure the spigot is in the "closed" position...I learned that one the hard way!)
7) Pour in simple syrup through a sifter or sieve or colander...just try to get the orange bits separated out
8) Stir, stir, stir, stir some more, stir a lot
9) JUST prior to your event toss in your sparkling water
10) Add a bag of cranberries for pretty-ness sake
11) Enjoy over ice

So...clearly some vodka can be splashed in for good measure...if that's your thing.  Or even consider substituting sparkling water with your favorite sparkling spirit

I am, admittedly not a fan of cranberry, but I really enjoyed this!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Thus far I have remained silent (at least here) on the topic of the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  In part because I was planning for an event in my house; but also because I am not sure there are words pertinent enough to touch the enormity of this heinous crime against humanity.  However, my party is over, the dishes are in the sink, I am so very tired...and yet I am watching CNN re-run the service which took place earlier this evening and I know I can not remain silent any longer.

My father called me Friday. He left a voicemail.  He said, "I am thinking about you as I listen to what is happening at the school in Connecticut.  I love you."  I had no idea to what he was referring.  I immediately called him back and he informed me that there was a mass shooting at an elementary school.  My heart ached as I slowly walked to the television to turn on the news.  The first thing I heard was the school psychologist was killed. school psychologist.  

As I listened to the news unfold I was aghast at the details.  A shooter.  An elementary school.  6 year old children were killed.  A mother was dead.  My mouth fell open as I considered the raw, searing pain these families and this community were experiencing...and would continue to experience for years and years to come.

I am still rather unclear on the details.  I have had to turn the television off today...and instead opt for holiday music to remind me of Christ.

I imagine Christ must seem absent to a lot of people right now.  I imagine that people...all over the world are asking, "How could a loving God allow this to happen?"

In fact, a dear friend, who is a school psychologist in Aurora, CO asked that question of me. She did not ask it out of anger...she asked how I might answer that question should a young person ask me how God could allow such atrocities to occur.  You see...she is being asked to the children of her community because the wounds are still tender.

The answer I gave her was not mine.  It was one I have gathered from various texts.  As best I can figure...God did not allow this to happen.  God, in fact, is likely grieving just as heavily as we are.  But...since ALL children are HIS children...he cries tears of sorrow and mercy for all those involved.  He laments over the sweet baby angels who met Him on Friday and for their loving caretakers who held their sweet hands as they entered the promised land together.  But make no mistake, God weeps for His child who pulled the trigger.  It is entirely possible God welcomed Him into eternal rest, as well.

I once read Donald Miller write about unimaginable crime.  I think he might have actually been referring to an interview he watched immediately after Columbine.  He wrote that he watched Larry King ask Billy Graham how something like this could happen.  Donald Miller expected a careful, perfect answer which could unlock the mystery of unthinkable acts.  He said he stared into the screen with baited breath for something tangible.  He said Billy Graham sighed and basically said (I paraphrase) time in a garden...a man and a woman were told not to eat from a tree; but they did anyhow.  And there you have the mystery...a simple mystery...perhaps not a mystery; but a truth...the truth of free will.    

The families of the fallen will no doubt be paralyzed with pain and anger.  I think, that leaves the rest of us to take up the fight.  Those of us who feel...deeply...but are not directly affected...are left to ask, "What can I do?"  

I believe, with all my heart, at a cellular level that a call to love is the antidote, the panacea to free will gone awry in the feeble mind of an afflicted.  Evil can take so many forms and enter into the lives of so many individuals.  Evil seems insurmountable, unstoppable, ultimately victorious.  But therein lies "evil's" co-conspiracy.  Evil is potent enough to wear individuals down to a frazzled heap of twisted thoughts and confused emotions.  But I do know triumphs evil every time.  It may not seem so because love is silent, love is not self aggrandizing, love is still and love is certain.  Love is the tortoise, evil is the hare.

I certainly have no answers.  However, I am surrounded by people...amazing people...who teach me to live with love and light and pass that on to others.  And in passing that on to others a beautiful cycle of love will emerge.  Living from a place of love...true love...THAT will conquer evil, no matter how desperately evil attempts to thrive.  
I read a prayer by Max Lucado yesterday.  He wrote it in response to the tragedy at Newtown, CT.  He reminded me that Jesus was born in darkness.  He was born in the darkest part of the night.  He was born in a very dark part of history.  He was born to be "our light." Right this utter darkness...on the eve of celebrating our savior's birth I pray, on my knees, that He is our light through this darkness.  I pray that we turn to Him, not away, during our times of sorrow and struggle-times it is so easy to abandon His sweet grace.  I pray we move forward and operate from a place of love and that said acts of love can affect change. 

In loving memory of 28 people....20 children, 6 educators, one mother and one son.