Tinsel à la Phone Case

Last week I shared some of the things I worked on this summer when I had limited writing time. But I saved the best for last. Well, best in my opinion.😉

If you’ve followed me for a while (or know me in person), then you’ve come to realize I love Christmas. Which is part of the reason I want to stay in my Christmas manuscript rather than emerge and hop into something new. (I’ll get there, don’t worry.) And because I’m kinda smitten with my elf, Tinsel (as creator-created kind of way, thankyouverymuch), I’ve been wanting to bring her to “life” in phone carrier form.🙂

Image result for dirndl

Traditional dirndl

Now, Tinsel wears a dirndl, a traditional dress worn in Austria, Bavaria, and South Tyrol, so first I drew out how that might translate on a knitted/felted phone carrier, and then I knitted it in bright colors (it was summer at the time, go figure) to make sure it would actually come out looking right.


No, it’s not a headless doll.😉

My girls say it looks like Disney’s Rapunzel—which got me thinking of ways I could knit carriers to reflect Disney princesses, but that’s a feat for another season.

Knowing I had the design as close as I was going to get it over a set of 18 stitches and 45 rows, I got right to work on Tinsel. Just kidding. I didn’t start on her until last month, since I was busy with all those other projects.


Tinsel before needle-felting.

And because there’s a team of Scottish-accented reindeer that play a significant role in my story, they had to be reflected in my phone carrier somehow, right? So here’s my token reindeer:


And here they are pieced together.


After needle-felting and sewing.

Though neither of these characters took long to knit, I think it took me almost as long to sew on all the different pieces of the reindeer as it took me to knit them. And sewing the apron string around Tinsel’s torso was not an easy task. Nevertheless, they were fun to make, and since I have lots more yarn…well, a red dirndl-clad elf is calling my name.


Though Writing Ebbs, the Creative Waters Keep Flowing

I didn’t get a lot of new writing done this summer. With the lack of a schedule, the kids being home for summer break, a family vacation, and the fact I wanted to focus more on querying agents when I did get time to write, fresh words just didn’t make it on the page.

But I stayed creative.

Few words are making it to the computer screen even now that school has started and vacations are over. I’m still querying, but I’m plum dried up and uninspired right now to delve into a new world/new manuscript. Honestly, I’d rather roam around the streets in my imaginary Christmas town, peeking in windows on the lookout for a sequel, but I don’t have enough of a plot to get started. Yet. (Yet–right, Lord?)

Again, however, I’m staying creative.

I’ve come to realize that when my writing well has run dry, the other inventive parts of me flare to life to fill in the void until my well is full again. So…here’s what I’ve been up to over the last few months.

First, I finished some projects that had carried over from the summer of ’15.

Alas, though the tunic top fits great, it doesn’t look great on me. Not my first knitting #fail, and I can always either sell this or reclaim the yarn for a different project, but it’s extremely frustrating to have spent all that time knitting something I won’t wear.:/ The market bag is huge—cuz that’s how I intended it to be—but I keep forgetting I need to sew a liner to the underside of the handle to give it more strength. So…I have yet to use it. #fail again—but only for the time being.😉

But here’s a #success…

From this:


As usual, I got too project-happy and forgot to take a pic before taking off the trim pieces!

To this:


This project had been in the mental plans for at least two years, and last summer I ripped off (gently) the trim pieces and painted inside the cupboards…and then got lost in the plot of my Christmas story and progress careened to a halt. Because who can think about refinishing furniture when there’s a world of characters shouting in your head?

Once I found the fabric I wanted to use for the drawer fronts, I went on a hunt for new drawer pulls. The brass ones I found at Lowe’s, and the two funky ones I found at an Anthropologie store in MA. (And yes, it meant I had to fill in old holes and drill new ones, but the end result was well worth the effort.)

The trim pieces bordering the fabric I cut to size from 8’ trim lengths I bought at Lowe’s. Again. And I might as well say here that the paint I used is Valspar, sold at…yep, Lowe’s. (Love that store.)

After priming the surface, I then painted on three coats of the Valspar paint. I probably would have gotten away with only two coats if my mind hadn’t gone on vacation, because I forgot about my little sponge paint roller I use for furniture and was using a brush, instead. And that doesn’t coat as well as a roller. Thankfully, my mind returned in time for the third coat.

I’ll confess that on my first coat, I did try a DIY chalk paint recipe I found on someone’s blog via Pinterest, which called for some Plaster of Paris. I don’t know how that stuff worked for the woman who claims to have used it successfully, but I should have known things wouldn’t go well when I read on the plaster box that it begins to harden within ten minutes after one adds the water. Say what? But the chalk paint recipe calls for water! Um…don’t use Plaster of Paris if you try a DIY recipe. Thankfully my faux pas isn’t too noticeable. Just don’t get too close!

I’m going to try this chalk paint recipe next time (on a smaller piece of furniture). I’ll let you know how it goes. As for the fabric, I did the same thing here that I do for my doll backdrops: Mod Podge! One coat to glue it to the drawer front, let it dry, then two coats on top to give it durability. I usually sand in between the last two coats.

But my favorite project…the one I finished last week…

I’ll show you next time.😉

(Hint: it relates to my Christmas story and involves knitting.)

Until then, stay creative in whatever venue God has given you a passion for.


Something Fun ‘n Flighty…

…Because sometimes a Tuesday can feel like a Monday. So, here’s a little ditty just for fun. I wrote this a few months ago one Saturday morning when I woke up with the first line running through my head. Have a blessed day!


What Will I Do Today?


Today I’ll cross swords with an armored knight

Or face down a dragon in a deadly fight.


I’ll flit through the sky on papery wings

In a land of giants and magical kings.


Today I’ll pirate a ship on the seas

Hunting for treasure, attacked by the breeze.


I’ll brave the monster squished under my bed

And lure him out with some moldy bread.


I’m an agent.

A ninja.

A cat-loving ghoul.

The choices are endless,

For I set the rules.


Today I’ll snuggle with laptop or paper.

Immersed in a fantasy, drama, or caper.


Black letters adrift on an ocean of white,

I’ll open my mind…and then I will write.



A Sad Day for Ellowyne Wilde

IMG_5658Bonjour, mes amis! Ellowyne Wilde here. It’s been a long time, n’est ce pas?  I thought I would chime in today with an update on Laurie’s dolly adventures—oh, wait. Sorry, my bad. There haven’t been any adventures. Why’s that, you ask? Because she was too busy trying to perfect her Christmas story this past winter and spring that she hasn’t taken the time to play. And then! Then!

Then she packed. Us. Away.

Can you believe it?

“Only for a little while,” she promised. And she removed our accessories.

“Just until we move into a rental house.” And she wrapped up our furniture.



“Look on the bright side—you can still see the goings-on around here.” And she stuck us in the—gasp—doll cabinet!


Let us out!

At least she had the decency to look contrite.

And now that she’s not moving? Dare we hope she’ll free us? Bring back our humble abode?

Nope! Claims she doesn’t want to put a new set of holes into the walls she freshly patched and painted.



Oh sure, she stops by our cramped quarters now and then, looking a little put-out (like she’s the one who lost all her belongings), but it’s not the same as when she could pose us, and decorate for us, and imagine with us. We’ve been guaranteed a kitchen and fireplace when we finally move. Hmm, methinks I’ve heard that one before.

But you know what really boils my vinyl? The fact she’s letting the Senson girls—those mischief-makers—run free. Cinnamon joined us this spring, Mistletoe got a new outfit, and Piper got a new hairdo.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Laurie had found a new favorite doll.


Time will tell I suppose. Maybe Christmas…2017? Maybe by then, we Tonner girls will be warming our non-articulated toes by an LED-fed fireplace befitting dolls of our caliber.

Yellow Light




When we go to God with a prayer request, we love to hear the first one, frown to hear the second one, but I think the most frustrating answer we receive sometimes is “Wait.”

Why, Lord?

For how long?

Pretty please, can’t I have [insert request here] now?


In the spring of 2015, Hubby and I found a track of land for sale in a gorgeous area of Jefferson County, about 20 minutes from Helena, MT. After prayerfully considering the risks, the pros and cons of purchasing the land, and the requirements that would go into creating our vision for the property*, we felt the Lord said, “Yes, purchase the land.” Yay! And yet…because of circumstances outside of our control, we didn’t close on the land until the very end of December. More than two months later than we were hoping to close.


180 degree panoramic of our little slice of Montana.


“It’s okay,” Hubby kept reassuring me. “God’s got this. It’s all in His timing.”

Right. It was all good. We were still on target to building a new house on the land in the spring 2016, and getting the girls into a better, smaller school by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

Cut to April 2016, and still nothing had progressed. Well, baby steps, but nothing visible. Between work responsibilities and tax season, Hubby didn’t start making headway on our land project until May. We still held out hope we could start building a house in August and move into it halfway through the school year, so I was still going forward with the idea our girls would be switching schools. Thus, I wanted to find a rental property closer to the new school than where we were at the time, which meant the house needed to be put up for sale.

Then summer vacation came along, with an already-planned trip to MA in June to visit family. I was in no position to move before leaving for MA, and Hubby wasn’t about to move while the girls and I were in MA, so thoughts of putting the house on the market got bumped to late July.

Then August.

The first week in August for sure.

The goal came…and went. Still, I continued packing up the house, because I was determined to make the deadline of getting into a rental property before the start of the school year. For the sake of the girls’ education, right?

On August 10th, I called the realtor so we could sign papers and put the house on the market. We made an appointment to meet on Saturday, August 13th…but as Saturday drew closer, the more panicked Hubby and I became.

And then Hubby dropped the bomb Friday night: the builder had called earlier that day to say he couldn’t start on our house until March 2017.

Before you shake your head at our builder, bear in mind we hadn’t signed any papers, and building houses is his livelihood. We do not fault him for picking up other work. In fact, it reaffirmed what Hubby and I had begun to think ourselves—maybe we should wait until the spring to start building, since the land project was taking waaaay longer to finalize than we ever could have dreamed.

Of course, then my analytical side kicked in. Our original thinking in getting a rental had been to keep our girls from having to switch schools halfway through the year. But if we couldn’t start building a new house until March 2017, that was no longer a concern, since there was no way we’d be moving in until maybe late August next year. So…why were we working so hard to get out of our current house?


Crap. Now what?


So I called the realtor and postponed our meeting until the following weekend, leaving Hubby and I a week to come together in prayer each day and ask the Lord in which direction He wanted us to go. (Not that we weren’t praying on our own, but there’s something more potent about praying together.)

There were risks and fears either way we decided, but Hubby and I don’t like making decisions based off of fears, especially fears of the unknown, so in the end, based on what was before us, what was tangible, and knowing God was in our corner so we didn’t have to fear the unknown, we decided to…stay.

Sigh. Grumble grumble.


That’s what we heard.

Wait on building the house.

Wait to put the girls in a different school.

Sit tight, focus on the other tasks at hand, and take this time to better prepare for the spring.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

During our week of prayer, my father-in-law had advised us not to move until we had complete peace about it. He echoed what I had been thinking. All the other times we’ve had to make big decisions, we’ve always had peace despite not knowing the end product or how insane our decision looked to others. Even when we bought the land, we had peace about the purchase. God had said, “Yes” to the land.

But apparently He’s saying, “Wait” before building our house on it.

The housing market is really good right now. Will it be better next year in the spring or summer…or worse? What will the economy look like next year after the November elections? What will the mortgage rates be? These are just a few of the things that were enticing us to sell now. Move now.

But God says wait. And He’s bigger than the economy or housing markets or mortgage rates. So despite any concerns for the future, despite any economist’s (or politician’s) projection on what 2017 will bring, our hope is in the Lord. He is our Rock. Our Sustainer. Our Comforter. It doesn’t necessarily mean circumstances will look better next year for selling our house, but we can rest in the knowledge we are currently staying on His path for our lives. And in the end, shouldn’t that be our goal?


*More on our vision for the property in a future post.

Bio for Pitch Wars 2016


I’ll keep this short and sweet, since I’ve restarted this post umpteen times trying to sound witty and intriguing, and it ain’t happenin’ this morning. I’m a simple, low-maintenance girl whose Twitter blurb says it best: Jesus comes first, family second, passions third. I love writing, knitting, and recently discovered the joy in creating dioramas for my Tonner fashion dolls, Ellowyne Wilde. They have more fun on this blog than I do.🙂

I also love Christmas, hence the manuscript I’m submitting to Pitch Wars this year, which incorporates my love for the fantasy side of Christmas, as well as a bit of my love for the German language. My elves wear dirndls and lederhosen, they live in northern Canada and adore ice hockey. The reindeer stables hold several secrets, Santa’s grandson suffers from an engorged ego, and my MC, Tinsel, stands two feet too tall among her fellow elves. With a trail of mishaps in her wake, she has a tough time fitting in. I wrote the first draft of this story a few years ago in an attempt to revive my joy for writing, so it has a light-hearted, whimsical feel to it, yet thanks to several revisions, it’s not without depth.

I’m a member of ACFW and submitted this manuscript through their rigorous critique loop over the last year. While I’ve polished it to a near shine (I hope), I know there’s always more to learn about the writing craft, so though my story might be good, I’d love some outside help to make it great. If the idea of hanging with a clumsy, determined elf, a team of spunky reindeer, and a Kringle in need of humility makes you smile, I hope you’ll consider mentoring me for Pitch Wars 2016. I can even promise there’ll be some kisses along the way–er, between my MCs, not me.😉

Epiphanies in Household Chores

I had an imaginary, future discussion with my daughter the other day.

As a writer, I’m more skilled at hypothetical conversations than real ones, and considering I was alone in the kitchen washing dishes—really, what else was there to do?

This conversation with my future 15/16 year-old (she’s 12 ½ now, so it’ll be here in a couple of blinks) had to do with modesty and her incapability as a hormone-induced teenager to understand why it’s so important that she wear appropriate clothing in public—even at the beach. Despite the fact most of her friends would be flaunting their bodies in the hopes to gain desired attention. Despite the fact she might want such attention (because Christians are humans, too, and when hormones run amok, wisdom and reason usually get shoved against the back wall).

In this conversation, I lovingly (it’s always done more calmly in my head than in reality) encouraged her to trust me, trust in an adult’s perspective from the other side of that hormone-induced state. I told her I wasn’t keeping her from wearing promiscuous clothing to be mean and take away her fun, but rather to protect her (…and for the sake of her Christian guy friends, because those poor teenage boys—who are more visual than we women will ever comprehend—barely stand a chance in this sex-driven society run rampant with girls wearing barely-there clothing).

The point is, as an almost 40-year-old, I understand that children and teenagers cannot look at the world or their decisions through adult eyes. It’s mentally impossible because the comprehension is not there. And I think we’d all agree that 60-somethings know more than an almost-40-year-old, and that anyone over 80 has earned the right to their stubborn ways and opinions (not that those ways and opinions are necessarily correct, but they’ve earned the right to have them).😉

But as I was carrying on this non-existent conversation, it hit me—again, yet on a different level this time: Why is it so difficult for me to accept that it works the same way with God?

God is eternal. He’s been here since before the dawn of time and He has no end. He’s all-knowing. Like a weaver at a loom, He knows the threads of the past, how each one has been woven together to create the present, and how they’ll continue intertwining to flesh out the future. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and the things He does sometimes will make you shake your head. (Um, the King of kings was born in a nondescript manger, with only animals and a couple of shepherds to welcome him—shepherds being the lowest on the social ladder, BTW, at that time and in that culture. Camp out there for a bit until the significance of what He sacrificed sinks in.)

But, God is also all-loving. So if He keeps something from me that I want, or doesn’t answer my prayers the way I’d like, maybe instead of automatically thinking He’s doing it to be mean or to take away the fun, I should think of it as a mother to her teenage daughter and realize He’s doing it for my protection. Because He loves me, and He knows how things will work out better than I can from where I stand at the present moment, with my limited understanding.

Will I always like His answers? Nope. Will I always accept them without first stomping off to my room and slamming the door? Probably not. But just like a perceptive teenager submits to and accepts his/her parents’ greater wisdom, so I hope to be a perceptive child who inevitably submits to and accepts the unmatched, faultless, loving wisdom of my heavenly Father.

Hmm, looks like I have laundry to do. Wonder what God will teach me while folding clothes.😀