Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sacrament Meeting Talk from Christmas Eve

Before I came here today to share my time with you I wondered what I would say and what I could share with you. I thought "These people know so much more than me, what could I possibly share that they do not already know?" I am not going to read the Christmas story from the scriptures or amaze you retelling a special christmas miracle from my life. I am not sure I can teach you anything new about Christmas but hopefully I can help you remember Christ at this special time. I continually reflected on what the true meaning of Christmas was for me when Brother Inlayo asked me to speak. Preparing this talk has enabled me many times to stop, slow down and reflect upon the true meanings of Christmas. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season with all the cooking, housekeeping, wrapping, shopping. Is the madness worth it, I've hear some ask. This year I didn't make fruitcake and shortbread. I did not untangle the lights and spray snow on the windows. I did not watch endless christmas cartoons or dig out the flashing earrings. There are no elaborate decorations at our house. We aren't going caroling after church or feeding the homeless. We have however taken this opportunity to teach our children about generosity and gratitude and how we can strengthen our family relationships through service. I feel priviledged. We have so much. We are fortunate to have our immediate families close by to celebrate this joyous event. We have a comfortable roof over our heads and plenty of food to eat. Our joy will not be dependant on a picture perfect holiday. My children don't really care if there's turkey or pizza. We have already received so many gifts of the heart. My visiting teachers came and brought themselves, their beautiful spirits and cookies too. Our neighbors have show compassion, generosity, interest and heartfelt words in writing and with their actions. They have held the doors for me, carried things for me and smiled at me. President Thomas S. Monson 1st counsellor in the presidency of the church said that the Christmases remembered best usually have little to do with worldly goods and a lot to do with the spirit of caring, a spirit of love and a spirit of compassion. Christmas to me means gifts from the heart, warm smiles of strangers and letters of remembrance. President Monson also said, "The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love, generosity and goodnessI What other time of the year do strangers reach out to each other so readily. President James E.Faust 2nd counsellor said at this year's devotional, "Christmas seems to make us better, kinder, more thoughtful and considerate of others." President Hinckley, our beloved prophet said in his calm loving voice, "At this marvelous season of the year we experience the mystique of Christmas love...Strong hearts are a little more generous. We are more inclined to strengthen the feeble...Children' hearts are made glad. There's an added magic in the air. There's a deep underlying current of happiness." Many remember their postmen, teachers, janitors, acquaintances, distant relatives with kind words and appreciation. It is wonderful and amazing to see how somany people reach out to those in need at this time of year. The love is stronger and people are more giving. Peace on Earth! Good will towards men. What I enjoy most about Christmas is the music! I love the many carols and hymns. I heard the bells on Christmas day! Hark the Harold Angels sing. Oh little town of Bethlehem, Silent Night and a host of others. The children's songs are fun too. Who could forget the children's songs-Jingle Bells or that hippopotamus song. I remember being fascinated with Rudolf and his story which was actually he'll go down in HISTORY and I couldn't get enough of MecaKalikiMaka. I love to imagine the songs of the angels at that blessed event. What an announcement the shepards received. I often wonder why they were chosen. Lowly shepards, probably minimun wage earners, maybe new immigrants, somebody has to do those jobs. Both the wise men and the shepard were the privileged ones, notto the kings Herod or Ceasar. Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. What amazing news. I wonder if they really could comprehend it's meaning. Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly yost praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. The angelic hosts joined in to praise God. That sounds like a lot and there must have been music. I am sure in their excitement they dropped everything, immediately setting aside thethings of the world to follow our Savior. They were among the first mortals to bear witness to this miraculous event. It has been said that they must have confided to Joseph and Mary that they had seen angels. It blows me away to imagine the scene. Luke 2:17 'And when they had seen it they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.' These days it would be similarily broadcast but world wide. Luke 2:20 'And the shepards returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things which they had heard and seen, as they were manifested until them.' God sent the shepards to be witnesses, then he sent the wisemen, and others all lending their testimonies. Isaiah 9: 6 'For unto us a achild is born, unto us a son is given...and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.' Our Savior grew up to become a wonderful example, a teacher, a healer, one who showed love and compassion. The effect he had on the world is permanent. He brought salvation to all men and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Without him repentance would be futile. Jesus came to Earth in the most humble experience. Even though there was no room for him at the inns I hope we can find room for him in our hearts. I imagine there travel must be slow and difficult. I thought I had a difficult time being pregnant and making several trips to the bathroom each night. I didn't have to ride a donkey and give birth, virtually unaided, outside with animals. Mary and Joseph must have had amazing faith and had to be spiritually in tune to receive the communications they did. I am amazed at how closely Heavenly Father and Jesus watch over us. How lovingly how generous they are with their guidance. What a gift our Savior's birth has brought us. Now that I have my own children I am more keenly aware of the the love and pride Heavenly Father must have for us. He sees us living independant of him in a new environment away from him. He's encouraging us and helping us even when we don't notice. The atoning sacrifice was made by Jesus because of the love they have for us. Without our Savior we would be unable to return and experience immortal life. Resurrection should be exciting.I pray we can each remember the true meanings of Christmas in our hearts and minds and carry it with us in our lives. As I read and contemplate the Christmas story, it becomes clear to me the story of the Saviour is unique. He humbled himself to come down in the most vulnerable state. He has given us so much. Is any other event in history so significant? What a treasured gift, his life,his work, his antonning sacrifice, his resurrection, his gifts of peace of hope of love of immortale life. President Monson's said, 'All that we hold dear, even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge our testimonies would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.. Among the most cherished thoughts and writings in this world is the divine statement of truth:"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, thast whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'" I hope you all have time to reflect these things and know through the power of God how true these things are and that we can all take Christ into are hearts and receive his image in our countenances experiencing the mighty change in our hearts that the love of our Savior brings.
My son wouldn't sit still and came running up on the stage, clinging to me. He then stood quietly beside me. I hung on to him for support. Jessica and Patrick were sitting in the back. My mom helped me too. I wished i could see her better when I was at the pulpit. It was wonderful to have Patrick and the children with me at church even though it was a bit more stressful. This was the first time there was no anger after church. That was good. What a perfect Christmas Eve. We had fun in primary and later I was able to have a little nap and we went to Mark & Gen's for dinner. Giving a talk in sacrament meeting was easier than I thought. Probably because I relied on the Lord for help.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I always tell my son that Santa and Jesus are good friends, hmmmm

What do you think of this? What an interesting ad campaign!
This is from the United Church and you can check out their website at

Sunday, December 10, 2006

97 and still kickin'

Happy Birthday Granny! happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to you, and many least 3
My gran turned 97 yesterday and here's a 3 generation picture. I hope I am not that crabby when I'm old. We brought her a black forest cake from Safeway, thinking she could serve it to anyone who came over and she got pissed off because it was so huge. She cutherself a big slice and sent the rest of it home with us, along with 2 copies of the large print reader's digest from the subscription i got for her birthday last year. She complains about it all the time, it's an American version and there aren't as many jokes and they are not even funny ones. That gift was a dud. This year all she got was cake and carnations and a tiny pointsettia which apparently will be root bound shortly, in that little pot. We thought it was cute. Thank goodness we didn't bring marvin along with us. She was awfully grumpy. We played one game of crib while pat entertained the baby. I was NOT allowed to hold her. Apparently you cannot play cards and hold or nurse a baby at the same time. Her children, of course were potty trained at 6 months of age on the chamber pot in queensborough. I beat her in the game but it was close. I hope i don't live that long because i am tired already and i can't image being that old or crotchety. She's sharp as a tack though and we are enjoying our 40 kiwis. They're tiny and flavourful, perfect for cutting in half and scooping out with a spoon. The kids love 'em. She had a mantle full of beautiful birthday cards and was irritated by the two Christmas cards she had already received. She doesn't like to get them before her birthday. She had hard and stale pieces of bread all lined up by her door to feed her squirrel, one for each day of the coming week. They were spread with peanut butter. I think his name is Wilbur the 2nd. Lucky for us anastasia didn't notice them. She really does like anastasia and she kept getting little kisses from her. Pat took this picture with his phone. Her throat was sore from answering and talking on the phone all day. I am glad we went because we were the only ones who visited her on her 97th birthday.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lillian's been at it again. Projects for her Winter Stamp Camp

All images are copyright Stampin'Up! Wow this is a beautiful window box. I recently made something similar without the window in and it was fun! It looks like she used her initials but you could put pictures there too.
I love what she's done with the domino. It looks so shiny and bright. Do you think Santa has time to juggle snowballs? Well, not at this time of year. My son just filled out his letter to Santa. It says simply, "I saw an ad on T.V. for you and Canada Post." Wow children are amazing. I thought it would be all gimme, gimme, gimme. Marvin is really excited especially each and every time we drive by Moody Park or Herbert Spencer because they both have huge lit up trees. He yells, "Look Mommy! A Christmas Tree!" and I mean yells. His Christmas concert is this Wednesday night. I am working(groan). I hope there's a dress rehearsal. I'm going to dress him up like Jesus or maybe a white shirt will do. Wouldn't want to offend anyone. Don't forget about the stamps! It's not too late to make Tags and Christmas thank-you notes or even New Years cards if you were too busy in December and didn't get around to it.

More about CosyKnitsLiterally

Interview: Cosette from CosyMakes
Published by Shannon July 8th, 2006 in Knitting, Spinning, Interviews
Flickr has become one of my favorite ways to find new crafty goodness — I was updated my Squidoo lenses (handspinning, dyeing and learn to spin yarn) when I spotted the fantastic hat pictured at left. It reminded me of a cross between Pippi Knee Socks (who has an awesome article on spinning coiled yarns in Knittyspin) and Kristi Porter’s Frankenknits (see Kristi’s latest column on intentional stitch-dropping, something I’ve been doing a lot of myself lately!)

But I digress! Back to the object at hand: I sent the waterlily hat’s creator an email and ended up doing an interview with Montana-native, Vancouver-resident artist / teacher / poet / knitter Cosette Cornelius-Bates. Enjoy!

You sell handknit, handspun and recycled items on your Etsy shop, Have you always combined thrift yarns with new materials? What was your inspiration?

If nothing else, I have always been thrifty. I inherited it from my mother who I call the ‘queen of all garage salers.’ Sometimes when one thinks of garage saling, it’s with a bit of disdain because many are quite cut throat and rude… my mother is nothing like that. We both just enjoy unique and interesting things.

I have always tried to combine thrifted and new yarn since I began knitting, but only since I entered graduate school have I emphasized it so much. Disgruntled by yarn prices and unwilling to use synthetics for the most part, I started looking for alternatives. I believe in knitting as a creative, daily, practice that should be affordable. Through the on-line fiber community I learned about recycling sweater yarn, and I was blessed enough to move to a neighborhood where there is actually a lot of wool at the thrift stores.

I initially found you through a photo of your waterlilies hat on Flickr (cosymakes on Flickr). You’ve been using a lot of yarn embroidery and vintage buttons lately — what do you like about them? Do any of the buttons you’re using have stories of their own? (I know my button box does!)

I like that embroidery and buttons add an additional creative element to my hats. When I embroider and add buttons, I use the same part of the brain as when I’m adding paint to the canvas. The other draw for me is (of course) that they are both thrifty. I started embroidering after I found a bunch of wool embroidery floss at a thrift store. When I look for more buttons, I can use up all of those singular buttons that nobody else knows what to do with.

Only a couple of my buttons have stories (sad!). My favorite is a button from my mom’s old bathrobe when I was young.

Which fellow crafters do you admire?

I especially enjoy crafters who also have a thrifty mentality and make high quality goods. But, alas, this could be a long list! I also am inspired by others who love making handknit/crocheted accessories, use buttons and embroidery, and those who do traditional spinning or knitting. I really enjoy it when craft is part of a person’s lifestyle choice and I can know them through it.

Here are a few of my current favorites:

Melissa of Tiny Happy makes amazing bags out of thrifted materials.
Stine mixes the used and the new in her sewing to make fabulous clothes and pillows.
fellow hat creator Croshay.
another fellow hat creator, Ruth.
and lastly, an amazing knitter and spinner, Adrian of Hello Yarn.
You knit your thesis (see this Flickr set) for graduation from Regent College — how did that come about?

I am in the process of knitting my thesis for a Masters of Christian Studies degree. I came to this school because it is the only program for professional artists that combines theology and art with the final project being mostly made up of the actual art (not just the paper).

It is a curious thing how I came to knit my project because I only started knitting 3 1/2 years ago. I have undergraduate degrees in art and English and so I came to Regent planning to do my arts thesis in either poetry or painting, but somehow knitting seemed like the thing to do. It just became a larger and larger part of my life. I started sharing my talents and my methods of recycling with other people who were interested. I give free knitting lessons to those who want to learn in my community.

My project will be the first craft arts thesis project at Regent (there were some quilts, but they were pictoral). It is interesting that it hadn’t happened before… many people leave Regent and go into full time woodworking and things like that. Craft is very respected here.

The Holy Spirit lace scarf, part of your thesis work, was made from a garage sale-purchased 100% hand dyed Italian merino wool Banana Republic sweater that you ripped out. This is what you said about it:

i was working on the trinity in knitting for my ‘vocation of the artist class.’ i brought in paintings and poetry also, but everyone was most taken with my knitting. They were also very excited about the possibilities of recycling. during class i was convinced to not seperate the function of the object to display it (ala the feminist reclamation of craft as art). when i got my paper back for the class, i was further convinced by my prof that i should try to knit my thesis.

Were you the only knitter in your art classes? What kinds of recycling were your classmates incorporating into their art?

I was the only knitter in my ‘Vocation of the Artist’ seminar. That has a lot to do with why I was so influenced to do knitting as my thesis. I didn’t realize the ways in which what I was doing was so powerful and accessible to people. It is human nature to understand what handknit items mean- they are care, comfort, warmth. The other students in my class were not recycling anything in their art, but they were excited about my recycling. It seemed very profound to them to deconstruct a mass-produced sweater and make it into a unique lace scarf. Their eyes literally lit up.

You’re active in the Recycled Yarn group on Flickr, as well as several related groups. How do your fellow artists inspire you there? Do the photos set off a spark that leads to something new for you?

I actually started the Recycled Yarn group on Flickr. The whole reason that I started my flickr site was to track my thesis and along with that I wanted to start a conversation with people about thrifty knitting and encourage people who are thrifty knitters. Recently, it seemed to me that there was a need for a more generic group on flickr, so I renamed it Thrift and Craft. I find my fellow artists in Thrift and Craft utterly exciting. They’ve got me admiring old curtains and bed sheets and pondering sewing up some bags. I really, really want to learn how to sew. I have not started sewing yet though.

In the caption to this photo, you write:

sweater ripping is hard. in knitting culture we are so used to being told the weight and the brand of the yarn and then following the directions. sweater ripping does not conform to those expectations ever.i wonder if i can teach people to be more creative and intuitive about knitting? it’s not really an issue with all of my poor friends who i generally knit with… plus i’m there to give advice. for the most part their lifestyles are creative — you have to be creative to be in graduate school with a couple of children. i wonder who will show up to the classes? what happens when they leave and don’t have the support of a community?

Do you think it’s easier to be creative when you have the support of a community, online or off?

Community is essential to all art. I really, really do not survive well as an artist in a box. When I moved to Vancouver, I had an aweful time finding people to be creative with. Around the same time my friend Jessica recommended a craft blog and I found it really encouraging to read about other people’s crafting adventures. However, it seems to me that there is no point having only an online community. The great thing about the internet is that it connects people together who may never meet otherwise. It has made craft a viable job and is an AMAZING place to find inspiration. I don’t know if my craft would be valid as only an online thing. I believe that knitting is part of who I am and that if I’m really being a part of the community in which I live, it needs to be a part of the community in which I live.

Would more knitters be willing to experiment if they had crafty mentors? Why do you think so many “casual knitters” are scared to deviate from patterns, or experiment with materials?

I think that knitters would be way more willing to experiment if they had crafty mentors. Really, I think that it’s about having a community and support. I have taught many, many of my friends how to knit and recycle yarn. Because we are an active community, they know that they can at any time come to me for advice and help. My other trick is to use the “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns” above and beyond all other knitting pattern books. I think that many knitters are scared to break out because they’ve never been exposed to creative ideas when it comes to knitting. Many, even if they were exposed, wouldn’t want to. I don’t have an issue with that. Knitting, in itself is a good thing and means something in their lives and to the people they knit for.

My favorite terrifying statistic is that something like 80% of all knitters make the pattern in not only the exact same yarn pictured, but the exact same color, too. Why is that?

WOW. That statistic is terrifying. I had no idea. I was just basing my judgment on what I see in the Crazy for Knitting group at flickr. It seems so irrational to me. I have no idea why that many people are that way. I wonder what they’d do if they were given some yarn and some needles and told to make something. One thing that I started doing that has helped people I know to experiment is the community scarf. Here’s mine. Low stress knitting. No need to create something useful. Maybe Western culture, with its emphasis on production, doesn’t have a sense of playfulness or creativity?

What are your favorite items to knit?

I love to knit accessories. Hats are what I knit most, but I enjoy knitting socks, mitts, and scarves also. The large items that I most enjoy are shawls and stoles.

Do you knit much for yourself?

I do knit for myself. In fact, sometimes it is difficult to not keep things that I make. Each item always seems like such a surprise and a miracle when I complete it.

My husband and I usually end up deciding that we don’t really NEED another winter hat.

How do your other artistic pursuits influence your knitting?

For me it’s more about how knitting influences my other artistic pursuits. Knitting shows up in my paintings: this was inspired by this.

I also write poetry about wool (can I get any more geeky?!?).

Actually, the way that I go about other art is similar to the way that I go about knitting. I assume that my creativity in knitting comes from already knowing how to be creative. Like I said earlier, an absent knit is like a blank canvas and there are so many options of what to put on it where. I use my brain the same way no matter what art I’m creating.

Thank you, Cosy, for letting us peek into your creative process! This is the first in a series of planned interviews with artisans online. Leave a comment if there’s someone you think I should interview!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kinda lika Gingerbread house...

Except it is made of Wasa crackers. My son made it on Tuesday in Kindergarten. They brought extra candy home in a coffee cup lid. The house is built on a paper plate. They had so much fun doing that craft. I have seen it done with graham crackers but never with Wasa ones. My mom always bought those when I was a kid. They are hard. In the car on the way home Marvin said, "Mom, don't eat too much of the creamy, white, sticky stuff or you'll get a tummy ache." I guess that guy doesn't know what icing is. Figures. I asked him if he was speaking from experience or if another child in the class had done this. Nobody had, but they were warned and he for one heeded the warning. That kid has never over eaten in his life, he's like his dad. Even if you put down the most favorite thing ever they won't even touch it if they're not hungry. Wish I could listen to my body like that. My mom admitted she's a chocoholic to me this week. Funny because she never eats the stuff, although lately she has been drinking this chocolate tea she ordered from somewhere and is now making herself with Callebaut, yummmm. Anyway here's a photo Patrick took with his new phone, yes we have finally relented to buying a mobile phone. No, wait I didn't, he did, for business. I'm in on it too. It's very handy and now I can always track him down. Insert Laughtrack Here.

Peas in a Pod

Look closely and you can see them. Each pea has catnip inside! Lucky is so happy now and very frisky. They are hand knitted. Love it!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

check out my new hat

Made by Cosette Cornelius-Bates an excellent, inspired knitress also known by many as Cosy
It's snug, comfy and warm and has my favorite colour combination-pink and brown with cute buttons.