09 July 2015

What's in a Name?

While visiting the studio, a good friend asked me, "Where did the name come from?  What does it mean?"  After hearing my story, she urged me to always share it at the beginning of any event at puddletown fayre.  I thought I'd start here.

 In 1999-2000, I was invited (arm-twisted) to purchase a "membership" to a little scrapbooking club.  It didn't cost much, and I could go every week for a whole year.  I went once.  I already knew that I wasn't a "scrapper".  I don't like the permanent pasting of precious things and tidying-up of ephemera and flotsam.  I love those treasures just as they come.  I have tins and shoeboxes of that stuff.  When I showed up in the home ec room after school to experience this club I hadn't participated in, the gal who offered it suggested I make a greeting card.  "Here are the scraps, here are the supplies, here are the items you can purchase."  I sat down, started playing, and two and a half hours later, I had four very lovely little cards.  Two and a half hours.  And I'd enjoyed every minute.

I never returned.  I'm really not a joiner.  But I did go straight to the craft store, purchase some papers and tools, and spent many happy hours at the little table in my great room.  I made cards for all occasions.  I gave them as gifts, I even did a few custom orders for large events.  It was so much fun.  My cheerleader/encourager friend, Colette,  told me I should sell my cards.  So I packed my portfolio and samples and brought them to Arizona where she and I made the rounds of shops that might carry my cards.  I actually sold a few.  To her mom.  During that visit, we brainstormed names for my soon-to-be-successful card business.  

We reveled in an ongoing conversation that seemed to last days and days.  We suggested the silly, the meaningful, the descriptive, the boring, the oblique.  Naming is a big deal.  While we were sitting in a little coffee shop called Ghini's, we suddenly plucked puddletown fayre from the cloud of words hovering above us.  (Even the name of the coffee shop was important.  My mom's name was Ginny.)  With great big smiles, we knew that was the name.  Here's the process and the why.

 fayre.  I had recently lost my mom.  Mom was my best friend, my greatest support and the example of Godly unconditional love I will try to achieve until the day I breathe my last breath.  Mom's last message on my answering machine began, "Hello, my sugar plum fairy."  Fairy.  I met my Arizona friend, Colette, while we were both teaching in England.  We were wandering around London one afternoon and happened upon a little street fair.  Spelled f.a.y.r.e.  Fayre.  It was surprising, charming, serendipitous.  Hmmm...  could work.  Fairy.  Fayre.  A celebration word with great meaning and charm.  It could celebrate Mom, Colette, freedom, courage, and the work I was doing.  Fayre.
puddletown.  I live on a road that was once named Puddletown Road.  Puddletown School, a one-room country school stood up on the corner.  It was the local school and the gathering place for several of my aunts, uncles, second, third and fourth cousins and their friends on Sunday afternoons in the 1910's.  I remember my Grandma talking about cousins that lived "down Puddletown way".  When I moved into my home in 1991, I was determined to hold onto the Puddletown name, in spite of the numbering system the county used in renaming all the country roads.  850.  Really.  I love holding onto our history.  Besides, it's such a charming word.  It sounds like Peter Rabbit and friends, healthy gardens and shirts on the clothesline.  And for me it's a location word, attached to family history.  Puddletown.

So puddletown fayre was named.   I moved from cards to books.  I moved from the great room, to the spare bedroom, to the studio.  Our books have moved from Indiana to Europe and Australia, and many places in between.  I still find it hard to believe that puddletown fayre journals are finding homes around the world.  How cool is that?

18 June 2015

These precious hands

It seems I've extended my two-month break beyond any of my expectations.  Yikes!  Thanks for the nudge, Barb.  I do want to share our progress, our growth and our next steps.  It's just that the doing of them seemed to take precedence over writing about them.  It's a discipline, isn't it?  Right.  Quill to the paper.  The discipline of the written word.

Do you see these hands?  These are skilled, patient, generous, careful, exacting hands.  Sometimes weary, sore hands.  Always gentle hands.  These are the hands that hold mine in encouragement, in support, in friendship, in playfulness and in love.  These hands belong to my partner, my friend, my beloved, my husband.  The man who, with these hands, built the nest that holds puddletown fayre.  The hands that labored out of love for me, for my dream, for our dream.  For what puddletown fayre may become.

Here Jerry is working on the bridge (yes, bridge!) that connects the studio to the house.  It is a masterpiece.  It is magical.  It has been celebrated in many stages.  It is nearly complete.  The bridge is a gift from Jerry, and from the kids - Chad and Rhiannon and Shaun.  Thank you, guys!  Thank you, Chad, for your muscles and hours of help during your vacation visit here! Soon I'll share a photo when it is completely, magnificently, finished.  

Five or six years ago, I asked about maybe, down the road, adding on to the little guest room because I was buried in papercrafting supplies.  Jerry suggested that I sketch out some ideas for a separate studio.  Really?  Seriously?  Sure, it sounds like fun.  When I shared plans, he made suggestions, improvements.  He quizzed me for hours on what would make it perfect for what I hoped to do there.  Each great idea was built upon in unimaginable ways.  And these two hands made it grow from a plan to a place.  They created it.  Walking across that bridge, into that building, is second only to being held in his arms.  But both come from the same place - the heart and soul of my husband.

Thank you, Jerry, from the bottom of my heart, from the core of my being. 

Thank you, Almighty Father, for making me wait for this man.  Thank you for the gift of him.  Please teach me to take care of him the way You want him cared for, to be the best partner, wife and friend that I can learn to be in this lifetime.  In the name of my saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

29 November 2014


Maybe that deep sigh I just enjoyed was felt throughout our entire region.  Or maybe it was the cause for today's bright sunshine and warming temperatures.  Or maybe it was just my own deep, contented sigh.  I've been driven to make and package new journals for the holiday season.  My in-stock inventory is now comfortably plump and I'm only two days behind the guesstimate schedule I created for myself.   The reason for the flurry of driven-ness through the fall months has been to be in a place to call December and January mine own.  So ... [insert favorite fanfare here] ... I declare December and January as months for my own projects and endeavors.  Cool.

The most recent creation, completed and photographed just this morning, is a very happy quilter's journal.  The pages remind me of the fabrics in my grandma's scrap basket.  Yes, she really had one. I wish Grandma had kept something like this.  I'd love to know about the fabrics and the thoughts in those tiny, delicate stitches in the quilts that now live with me.

 Thanksgiving was quiet and blissful at our house.  Jerry and I were home and spent the day together, warm and well-fed.  I am so aware of and grateful for God's enormous outpouring upon my life, and His gentle guidance.  As I continue to develop the concept of puddletown fayre, I feel His hand in the directions we are taking.

Last week I invited the neighborhood ladies in for Saturday morning coffee, and set us up in the studio.  It was a nice test of the space and equipment in place so far.  It was comfortable, there was plenty of room, and it was a relaxed get-together.  Because so much of the studio interior is moveable, I have many choices in configuring the space for different needs. And that's still a fun puzzle.  The next step will be to run a couple of guinea pig mini-workshops.  Ideas for those are already simmering away, and best of all, I've had plenty of volunteers for participants!

So, I head into December with a light heart, a grateful spirit, and work I love that is keeping me busy.  I wish the same for you. 

13 November 2014

First Snow!

First Snow!

It's the first snow of the season.  We've had passing flakes, but this is sticking and it's cold and bright and floaty and more is on the way.  Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!  There will be a lot of complaining, griping and moaning, but I can't help it... I get so excited when it snows.  My excitement usually wanes by late February, but right now I love it.  

  I've never been in my studio for a first snow, and I came out as soon as I could to celebrate First Snow here for the first time.  Because it sits high, the studio has the feeling of an aerie.  Right up in the snowflakes and the trees and the air.  It is cozy and warm and bright here.  It's magical.  

I have a Book of Days where I record special celebrations and my/our traditions for those days.  Days like Last Sunday in June (the day Jerry and I first met in person), Yes Day (the day he asked me to marry him), Nicola Tesla's Birthday (because Jerry is fascinated with his work), Boxing Day (a special day with the kids), Claude Monet's Birthday (because, well, he's Claude Monet!), First Day of School (because I'm not there), days like that. 

 And today I'm adding to the First Snow celebration.  It will be imperative that I spend a portion if not all of First Snow in my studio.  I hope we continue to add celebrations and not forget the fun ones that have already grown into our tradition.

Oh - piano lessons in the studio were fun.  The corner we've set up for that purpose works well.  I learned I need coat hooks and another light for the path.  It was such a pleasure to hear the response to this new space and be able to pass those wonderful comments along to Jerry.  He's worked with such patience and skill to create this building.  I can't imagine ever taking it for granted.

I'm hoping to run some guinea pig workshop/retreat groups in late winter or early spring to iron out the details for Phase II of puddletown fayre.  It's all happening, it really is.  We are so completely blessed.

07 November 2014

Happy Anniversary Week

Happy Anniversary Week

On a sparkling November morning seven years ago, we stood in the presence of family and chosen family.  We stood in front of the fireplace in the Lakeside Inn, and we stood in the presence of God.  There we made our pledge, we chose to be joined in marriage.  I waited a lifetime for my husband, and he was definitely worth the wait!  We return to the inn each year for a couple of days on the anniversary of our marriage.  It has become a very special place for us. 

 I have developed a few products for the inn, which the management there is graciously willing to make available for guests to purchase:  a few blank greeting cards, small blank journals and a deluxe journal.

  It has been fun to revisit the inn as I create these items.  It's my hope that others are finding their own memorable moments there, and that our products provide a place for them to record those memories.

27 October 2014

My Piano

My Piano

In addition to my continued work preparing inventory for the holidays, and sending off a prayer journal, last week was Piano Week.  It's hard to find the right words for this experience.  The piano came from my childhood home, one of the last things to be moved.  It doesn't matter how old or how prepared one might be; the truth is that it hurts to lose parents.  Yes, it softens the harsh edges of grief to know that we will be reunited in heaven, but being an orphan - even an old orphan - isn't easy.  I just miss my mom and dad.  Aren't I blessed to have parents I miss so much?

The studio has been ready for the piano for some time.  I'll move piano lessons from our home to the studio now that the piano is in place.  My husband won't have to find an alternate place to land after work on Tuesday evenings any more.  It is all a wonderful plan and I'm excited about it.  But watching this little Gulbransen spinet be moved into its space in my studio - well, it was just hard.  It belonged along the wall under the stairs at home.  That's where I put in endless hours of practicing, emoting and venting, learning, perfecting, playing for fun and for work...  it has been in that space since 1964.  Fifty years.  That's a very long time.

So, welcome to your new home, little piano.  Thank you to my husband, my brother and my brother-in-law for gently moving and muscling the piano into its new space.  Not a grumble was heard.  And now it sits happily against a south-facing wall, with a cheery new bright green philodendron there welcome it to its new home.  The very first piano lessons in the studio will be on November 11.  That will also be the very first time the studio has been used for a public purpose. There are a lot of very firsts coming up.  Gulp.  I'll let you know how it goes.

16 October 2014

Can't Stop

 Can't Stop

Today it's hard to stop and reflect, to make myself quit working, sit down and write.  It's been a busy, happily productive week.  Because our journals are so labor-intensive, I'm pretty focused on building up inventory in anticipation of the Christmas season.  I'm working from morning to night, and I find it hard to turn out the lights and stop at the end of the day.  I'm doing work I love.  How amazing is that?

The first journal I finished this week is a Thanksgiving journal.  The first page in this journal presents a bright and bold What-if.  It's pretty much a pop-culture quote, but a strong reminder that every breath we breathe is a gift from our heavenly Father.  Every sandwich, every tank of gas, every joy, and even every trial come to us through His grace.

And speaking of amazing gifts... this is our first fall in the studio, and our new, nearly-completed space is working out so well.  I feel like I'm dreaming most days.  I go to work just outside the back door.  I'm nestled against the woods and the changing colors give me a new masterpiece every day.

The interior is set up in stations, making my work there so much more efficient.  For making my journals, I'm enclosed in a comfortable circle of tools and materials and I can move from computer to digital cutter to worktable to paper cutter to glue.  What a luxury to have all my "stuff" right there where I can reach it.  My husband is making this space for me, and I struggle to find words to describe the love in his gift. 

So today I thank God for His love and Jerry's love and our health and our home and His endless provision and for my studio, and... and...  and...  the list is endless.  But I'll end with heart-whole, whole-hearted thanks for those very difficult and humbling moments that remind me how much I need Him.