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Titles elude me at this moment

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Happy New Year, dear reader. My year started out with both beauty and, unfortunately, a bit of pain. Somehow I managed to hurt my back or shoulder or something between Christmas and New Year's. For about two weeks I have been in and out of some very unpleasant pain, unable to write ... or knit ... or paint. Sigh. However, I am back now and feeling good again. We are enjoying a most lovely day of snow today, as are many people in the country. It started snowing late yesterday and has not stopped since. I was out early this morning with The Duke (my son's English Bull Dog) and we both enjoyed the cold stinging snow blowing in our faces and the beautiful scene of snow blankets on everything in the outdoor world. This photograph was actually shot on the weekend by my dear husband -- so, please use your imagination to add in deeper snow on the ground, flamboyant drifts round the bottoms of the trees, and heavy, thick snow falling. Oh, and the snow is up higher than The Duke's belly, and I have my Lavender Scarf wrapped round my Mad Bomber hat (I love my Mad Bomber hat), and very warm mittens on my hands. There, you see ... you have a great imagination! While I was still enjoying my back pain a couple of dear friends invited us to go with them to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens for their annual poinsettia show. The building that houses the gardens is a historical masterpiece and well worth reading up on. It was striking to see it in the snow, with a gray-sky backdrop, bedecked in huge evergreen wreaths for the holidays. While the poinsettia display was lush and spectacular, I was even more impressed by their bountiful collection of orchids. I focused my camera lens on the orchids much more than on poinsettias, and will share a few of those shots today and more next time I blog. In fact, I will be using some of these photographs for drawings and paintings in colored pencil, watercolor, and oils over time. Equally impressive to me was the succulent collection ... oh my goodness. There were a great many varieties of healthy, thriving, large and sometimes humorously shaped and named species. It reminded me of my many years living in the Southwest, traveling through the deserts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada. If you entered my great big, end of the year giveaway, the drawing was held on Friday, January 7, 2011 and the winners were all alerted via email. The winners were Rita T. (Grand Prize), Margaret F. (First Prize) Joan C. (Second Prize), Patti B. (Third Prize). I had a wonderful time giving away patterns, prints, etc. this holiday season. I wish I could afford to give prizes away to each and every one of you, and make each reader a winner, because I know it makes the receiver of the winnings feel very special to be one of the lucky ones. With all of the goodies I sent to Wendy at WendyKnits for her giveaway, and the three giveaways I held on my blog this year I was at least able to add to the happiness of a good number of people. For those of you who viewed my son's new Etsy store last month and left comments, thank you so much. Your feedback was very encouraging to him and helpful as well. His first month in business has gone well, and he has already released quite a number of new posters and signs. If you aren't familiar with him yet, his store is Flying Junction and he makes and sells subway signs and bus scrolls that he hand letters with meticulous detail and prints on archival paper and canvas in a variety of sizes. This week he released a set of three vintage-look NY subway signs in the 11" x 17" size at an attractive package price. You can also order custom subway signs, bus scrolls and tram scrolls from a variety of cities in the U.S. and abroad. The largest size, I think, is 20" x 60" (on canvas). I love his custom destination posters because you can have him create a poster that represents the places you have been, or hope to go to one day. I'm planning on having him create one for me featuring the most meaningful places I have lived and worked, with our farm here as the "End of the Line". Hopefully 60" long will be tall enough! It would also be a cool gift idea for someone you love who has plans to travel, especially a young person who has the world and their whole life ahead of them. Maybe someone just setting out for college or out into the work force, with dreams and goals, places to go and people to meet. If you haven't been to his Etsy shop yet, grab a cuppa something tasty and go have a look ... In knitting news, I have this little sample to show of a pair of two-toned fingerless gloves I am designing and knitting for someone very special in my life. Now that I am feeling better, I will be working on them again and finishing them up in the next few days. For Christmas my daughter and I gave our two dear friends, Anita and Debbie T., each one of my Biscuit Blanket kits as well as a promise to spend two evenings in early winter knitting with them. Debbie has been wanting to expand her knitting skills and Anita has wanted to get together and knit for quite some time, we just haven't ever made it happen until now. Tomorrow night will be our first knitting evening, and we are all looking forward to it so much. Another friend of mine from church told me she received a pair of handknit socks from a cousin this Christmas, and as a result made a new year's resolution to learn to knit this year. She said the most precious thing, that she treasures that pair of socks so much that she cannot bear to wear them. Instead, she carries them around in her purse showing them to everyone she knows. When she was telling me about this, her eyes were aglow with admiration and joy and I just had to think about all of the knitters out there and the fact that generosity and giving is a hallmark of our craft. Take a minute, if you are a knitter, and think about how many knitters there are around the world and then multiply that by some number that seems reasonable to predict how many hand knit gifts will be made this year, and then think about the people who receive those gifts and their happiness. It is a beautiful thought, isn't it? Here's to a year of beautiful knitting that knocks the socks off of the recipients of the millions of hand knit gifts that will be presented throughout the world over the course of the next twelve months! Have a beautiful day, wherever you are! ~firefly


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