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Friday, December 31, 2010

Time and Friends

“There is no hope or joy except in human relations.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

* * * * * *
“The bird, a nest; the spider, a web; man, friendship.”
-William Blake
* * * * * *
“‘Tis the human touch in the world
that counts—the touch of your
hand and mine—
Which means far more to the sinking
heart than shelter or bread or
For shelter is gone when the night is
o’er, and bread lasts only a day
But the touch of the hand and the
sound of the voice
Live on in the soul always.”

-Spencer M. Free
* * * * * *
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Prickly Pear Quilts

My husband spotted this shop on our adventure yesterday. Unfortunately, I had my three kids with me while browsing patterns and pricing fabrics. I ended up purchasing a template to help with angles, but would have liked to spend more time looking at the books and other quilting aids she had displayed.

I did fall in love with this quilt found in the window of her shop. I noticed the variegated threads used to do the quilting right away. This is something I have not seen before but it is lovely.

The owner was sweet in offering my sons some magazines to look at to occupy their time while I was looking. Too bad cars don't interest them just yet.

Prickly Pear Quilts will be another stop at another time.

Thought I would show you a picture of the trolley car outside the shop. It is all decorated for the Christmas season.

Another shop (The Classy Flea Market) I wanted to visit had this cute sign outside of it. Didn't get to explore it as my family was hungry for lunch at 4 p.m. and then we had to get back home with a windy drive (winds up to 60 mph).

Lasso The Moon Toys Helena Montana

At first I spotted this cute sign:

Then after walking a distance, we found the store:

Inside was cute displays of many sweet dolls, puzzles, legos, baby things, learning toys and more; but the thing I fell in love with -- the art painted on the walls. They look like story book illustrations. I didn't find a name on them, but the artist is very talented.

My boys purchased some bouncy balls, one massive marble, and some old fashion candy sticks. My daughter had her eyes on some dolls, but she was told not this trip!! I fell in love with a flag arbor to display my yard flag. (The wind broke the mechanism bracket I have mounted on the side of the house recently.) I will have to see if I can find one online or make another trip to Lasso the Moon Toys in Helena in the future.

Helena Montana Holter Museum of Art

In trying to locate in Helena where my husband was going on an appointment yesterday in Helena, MT, we stumbled upon the Holter Museum of Art.

We parked right in front of it and at first I thought it was just a gift shop having noticed a "Sale" sign on the curb. While my husband took off walking to locate his destination. I talked my daughter into exploring with me.

I was able to sneak a few pictures of one of the displays in the museum. I don't know if pictures were allowed as nothing was posted and there was one man feverishly working on already clean floors and another lady in the office at the check out counter for purchasing items. Everything was for sale from pottery, sewn items, jewelry, ornaments, framed pieces, western, oriental, sculptures and so much more. These items pictured were for sale as lots of two or three dolls ranging in price from $600 - $800. Some were sold and marked as such on the walls. The set of porcelain cups (approximately 8 in the set) were marked sold for $1000.

Another beautiful sight to behold was the church from the street outside the museum. The bells also ring on the hour and can be heard for quite a distance. I want to explore this place again and come when my foot is able to walk and walk without pain. I am really feeling like I over did it yesterday.

Helena Montana Excursion

Wall Mural in Helena at the Last Chance Pedestrian Mall

The family and I travelled to Helena, Montana yesterday for a doctor's appointment for my husband. The office he went to ended up being in the Last Chance Gulch Walking Mall. I had been there years ago with my husband but had forgotten about it as when we went most stores were closing for the day.

This time we found the place almost deserted and then a lot of empty really neat old buildings. It was fun to sight see and we did find interesting things to occupy our time while waiting.

Here is the online information found for our adventure:

Downtown Helena and Last Chance Gulch are alive with activity year round. This area of Helena features a pedestrian walking mall which gives residents and visitors alike a unique way to experience the history and the shopping in the area. The Gulch features a wide variety of merchants. There are custom art galleries, one-of-a-kind apparel stores, unique gifts shops, sporting good stores and entertainment venues. All business in this area are locally owned and strive to provide excellent customer service. Downtown Helena is a place to gather. In the winter, art walks and holiday strolls are featured events. In the summer, the Alive@Five free weekly concert series on Wednesday nights is a wonderful place to bring the family and have a great time. Music festivals and craft fairs are held various weekends throughout the summer. Catch it all Downtown Helena! For more information see our website at

Fancy Kabob Skewers found in the window at the Oriental Rug Shop

Here is a statue display of gold miners to represent the last change gulch history in Helena.

My next few blogs will be about some of the stores we ventured in.

I told the family as we were leaving that more trips to explore Helena would be made with weather and road travel permitting in the winter, but a definite in the summer as it is only about an hour to get there from Great Falls, MT.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Life Is Always Good

Photo by Pringle Hill on

Life is always good

Life is always good, because you can make of it anything you choose. Life is good, because it is exceptionally flexible.

Life is good because you can express what it means to be alive in your own unique and fulfilling way. And that is precisely how you make your life good and rich and full.

On this day, in this place, just as you are, life is good. For you have the opportunity to live with passion and purpose.

You can explore, you can invent, you can question, you can taste, you can give, you can observe and you can build. You can commit your whole life to what you value and quickly move away from what you don't.

The possibilities spread out endlessly in every direction. And you are here, right now, to consider, select and act upon the ones that most appeal to you.

Life can be frustrating and challenging and painful, difficult and unfair. Even so, life is always good because you can always make it better, and in so doing you make it great.

-- Ralph Marston

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Night Before Christmas

by Clement Clarke Moore
or Henry Livingston

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buffalo Nickel Statue Great Falls MT

A clever interpretation of art or a play on of words as I have heard the phrase stated many times over the years is what I can write about this buffalo statue found in Great Falls, MT.

And no more appropriate is it to find the location right in front of a bank on 10th Avenue South, one of the most traveled roads in Montana.

My husband and son, Wynston, say this is their favorite of all the buffalo we have found around this town so far.

I am not positive, but this may be the last one to photograph, but then again more may roam into town any day now.

Hope you enjoy these pictures. Wynston was the photographer in this blog. Pretty good for a 13 year old!

Morning Star Buffalo Great Falls MT

The family was all out together the other day after picking my husband up from the airport when one of my kids pointed out. "Hey mom, there is another one of your buffalos!" I had the digital camera on hand and into the bank parking lot we stopped. Not too much traffic was going on around the building so I took my time and some detail shots of this beautiful work of art.

I also loved the detail of the "quilt" over the back of the buffalo. Truly each artist that produced these had their own creative thought in how to paint and dress this symbol.

Hope I am not driving you nuts with the town of Great Falls, Montana and the buffalo, but I like the idea someone came up with placing them around here.

Another blog is coming right after this of another buffalo. My husband and son, Wynston, say the next one is their favorite.

Dressing Up Charlie Russell

Great Falls, Montana loves its western heritage and is home to the Charles M Russell Museum. On Central Avenue in downtown Great Falls is a wonderful statue of Charlie Russell and I couldn't help but stop and catch a snapshot of it dressed in holiday attire.

The local paper ran an article that someone in town is going around putting hats and scarves on other statues. I am thinking it will be a fun idea to take the kids out tomorrow and get a few more photos of others dressed up for Christmas. This will keep their minds off the presents under the tree and the pleading to open them early.

My Avery said tonight, "I have been the most patient one this year, haven't I?" A hug and kiss was placed on his forehead telling him yes, indeed he has been.

These are the simple joys of loving your kids and feeling that magic, that anticipation. I hope it never ends, but when it does, I will have these memories and smiles.

Mug Rug Crafting

This year I have been working for a company that has 3 different group homes in my town of Great Falls, MT. At the girl's home is usually where you will find me on Saturdays from 8 a.m. till midnight.

As the holidays approached I wanted to have the girls try their hand at sewing and brought my machine and scraps of fabric with me one day.

I had read on another blog about a craft idea of the "Mug Rug". This seemed simple enough and I embroidered a few cute cup designs to use on each little "Mug Rug" coaster.

The staff of the girl's home really enjoyed these crafty presents and thanked me for coming up with something creative for the girls to try.

One 16 year old told me that she enjoyed sewing with the machine but felt it taxed her patience. She was still all smiles in handing out the little gift bags with the coasters and some tea bags and coffee treats for everyone at the party.

Merry Christmas and a "Mug Rug" or two may be coming to friends of mine real soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aloha Christmas

Photo taken by my cousin, Stephanie Marron, Hawaii, December 2010

Can Christmas really be Christmas in Hawaii? Yes, it can. Hawaii residents begin putting up their holiday lights and Christmas trees as soon as the last piece of Thanksgiving turkey is gobbled. There are joyous Christmas concerts, community parades and dazzling displays throughout the state.

Christmas wasn’t formally introduced to Hawaii until after 1820, the year Protestant missionaries came to Hawaii from New England. In ancient times, however, the holiday coincided with a traditional Hawaiian festival called Makahiki. This celebration lasted for four months and included great feasts and games. During this time, wars and conflicts were strictly forbidden. As far as the early Hawaiians were concerned, the Makahiki was their time for "peace on earth and goodwill toward men."

The first Christmas celebration in Hawaii is believed to have occurred in 1786, when Captain George Dixon, docked aboard the Queen Charlotte in Waimea Bay on Kauai, commanded his crew to prepare a Christmas dinner that included roasted pig, pie and grog mixed with coconut milk. The English navigator then led his men in toasts to their families and friends back home.

In 1856, Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV) declared December 25 to be his kingdom’s national day of Thanksgiving. Two years later, Santa Claus made his first appearance in Hawaii, arriving at Washington Place (now the governor’s residence) to deliver gifts for the children.

Today, there’s no bigger Christmas celebration than "Honolulu City Lights," a favorite holiday spectacle put on by the City & County of Honolulu. Held at Honolulu Hale (City Hall), "Honolulu City Lights" features a 50-foot Norfolk pine Christmas tree, elaborate Christmas tree and wreath exhibits, giant Yuletide displays and live entertainment. Whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s no better place to catch the Christmas spirit in the islands.

Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Carol History

Maybe you knew this, I did not:

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled.
What in the world do leaping lords, French hens,
swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out
of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were
not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone
during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.
It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning
plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each
element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality
which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-The Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas pass it on if you wish.'Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone

Holiday Spirit

Here are some photos of ornaments I have been stitching lately:

Working on getting in the holiday spirit? Well, I found a blog spot on some tips for hot chocolate and thought I would share them with you.

My family has been playing it very low key this season as my husband has been out of town for weeks and weeks with only a short visit for Thanksgiving. We will all be so glad for his return this coming Wednesday.

I have been stitching and sewing odds and ends. I have been stirring around in projects and actually getting some things done. As the end of the year comes so do memories from this life changing 2010. My family has experiences ups and downs, additions and losses. We have grown in many ways, and yet I find it hard to believe I have two teenagers in my house -- ages 13 and 16. As well as my baby is turning 11 next week and he is taller than the rest of us.

Hope you are in a GOOD place this holiday season and taking things easy and slow. It will all get done, even the baking!! (I have been enjoying baking banana breads and pumpkin breads this past couple of weeks. Something new for me.)