"We write to taste life twice - once in the moment and in introspection."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas quilts

Now that I have a little time to do so, I'd like to show you some of the stuff I've been sewing.

I had fun working on this "Compendium" quilt, which is a compendium or collection of "orphan blocks" and projects I or the girls had started and just weren't going anywhere for various reasons. It was like working on a puzzle to get things to all fit together, but maybe more fun because I got to figure out the puzzle as well as put it together. I was a little afraid that my aunt wouldn't like it so much, but I should not have feared. She loves it! I still have to get to the quilt shop where I can rent the quilting machine (with the gift certificate my darling husband gave me) so I can quilt it for her.

This quilt has been in the works since last Christmas off and on and I finally got it to a usable state. It still needs the binding, but we've enjoyed it on the back of the loveseat anyhow. It's only a lap quilt size and doesn't have any batting, just a flannel backing. But it's just right for our living room which has the main source of heat, the wood stove, in it.

The next big project in "the Quiltery" is to sort through stuff, throw some away, give some away, cut some into more useable pieces (strips and squares) and thoroughly organize it, probably using Bonnie Hunter's scrap saver system. I'd show you a picture of the "before" but it would be too horrifying. Maybe I'll show a picture of "during" a little later.

Because I again am so blessed, I

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent Activities - Days 16 - 19 plus some quilting

Again, while I haven't kept up with posting the Advent activity cards, we have pretty much kept up with the doing of them here at our house. Here are days 16 - 19:

Day #___Jesus is Immanuel.

Matt. 1:23

Activity: Imagine! God is with us! Think about what Jesus left in heaven for our sake. Think about the honor He gave up to become a frail and helpless baby. What about the riches He left to be born in a not so lovely stable? How about the unbroken unity and fellowship with His Father which was totally broken as He hung on the cross. But He was willing to live among us and to sacrifice for us because He loves us so!

Today we watch the movie “Herod the Great, Jesus the King - The True Christmas Story” by Ray Vander Laan.

Day #___Jesus is a Servant.
Isaiah 49:3; John 13:3-15

Activity: The King of the Universe humbled Himself to the point of washing dirty, dusty feet of those who should have been humble enough to do that job for Him. How about us? Are we humble and willing to do things for our family and others that may not be very pleasant things to have to do? The best route to godliness and spiritual growth (which I hope is our greatest goal) is to imitate our Master. Let’s be joyful and willing servants.

Today we’ll paint our little nativities. (These are simple, tiny ceramic nativities that I clear-glazed so that they can be washed and repainted every year.)

Day #___Jesus is the Lamb of God.
John 1: 29

Activity: In the Old Testament, we learn that a lamb was often sacrificed for the sins of mankind. The Passover lamb had to be one that was perfect - no spots or bad health. The sacrificing of a lamb was to illustrate that the wages or payment for sin is death. The lamb died for the people. Jesus came as a perfect lamb who once and for all fulfilled the requirement of death for sin. His death was our death if we acknowledge Him as our substitute, Savior and Lord.

We’ll bake our Sour Cream cookies with our lamb cookie cutter as well as make Sour Cream and Chocolate Pinwheels.

Day #___ Jesus is our Redeemer and Savior. Philippians 2:5-11

This baby born in a manger later grew up to die on a tree. Through His death and His forever conquering of death because He rose again from the dead, we are redeemed, or bought back, from the power of sin and death. He carried all our ugly sinfulness on that tree and left its power forever buried when He came back to life. We are saved from being slaves to sin as well as from the eternal punishment for sin. Oh, how thankfully we should live!

Let’s get our tree and decorate it today. (As I said before, we saved this activity for so late because we had to wait for the Guinea Pig to get home from college. It just wouldn't have been the same without him.)

I had hoped to show you a lap quilt I've been working on, but our very slow computer + dial-up wouldn't cooperate, so I'll have to show it later.

I hope your Christmas season has been a time of understanding what a gift God has given us, though actually it is quite beyond our understanding.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent Activities - Day 15 & Recipe

As our advent activities continue, we come to day 15. The card (tucked into John 6:35) says:

Jesus is the Bread of Life. John 6:35
Why would Jesus call Himself the Bread of Life? Could it be that bread or food is one of the most basic needs and Jesus wanted people to realize that He is our most basic need? The Jewish people were wanting Him to produce bread like they said Moses had given them manna, not realizing that their need was so much greater than the mere filling of their bellies. Do we do the same theing, focusing on our physical needs and wants to the neglect of our spiritual and total need of Jesus? Meditate on it today as we bake and freeze our "sweet bread" of Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls.

Here is the recipe for our traditional wonderful Cinnamon Rolls. I hope you give them a try - they are so moist and not so "sicky-sweet" as some.

Family Tradition Cinnamon Rolls (modified from Cooking From Quilt Country)

(325 degrees for 10 min.; raise to 350 degrees for 5 min.)

In a small saucepan, boil: 1 medium sliced potato (enough to make ½ c. mashed potato)

Mash with fork (do not add milk or seasoning)

In large mixing bowl, mix thoroughly:

1 ½ c. warm water

½ sugar or honey

½ c. vegetable oil

½ c. mashed potato

1 egg

2 tsp. salt

4 tsp. active dry yeast

Add: 3 T. nonfat dry milk powder (not totally necessary)

3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix well. (Can beat with electric beater for 3 min.)

Gradually add: 2 ½ - 3 c. whole wheat flour

Mix and knead for about 10 minutes, till dough is stiff yet soft, not sticky.

Grease a large, deep bowl with oil; form the dough into smooth ball and place in bowl. Oil the top of the dough also. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until it has doubled, about 1 ¾ hours.

Punch dough down very thoroughly to break up any air bubbles. Form again into a smooth ball, place in the regreased bowl, turning it over so the top of the dough is also greased. Cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

Punch dough down again, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a rectangle 15 x 12 inches - it should be about 1 ¾ inches thick. If you prefer smaller rolls, divide the dough into two rectangles and/or roll it out thinner.

Spread the dough with: 1/3 c. butter, softened

In a small bowl, mix: ¾ c. brown sugar

1 ½ T. ground cinnamon

Sprinkle sugar mix over the butter. Tightly roll dough up from the long side. Pat the ends towards center to “square” them up a little. With a serrated knife, cut the roll using a sawing motion into 1 ½ inch rolls.

Place slices cut side up, 1 ½ inches apart, on greased cookie sheets or 9x13 pans. Cover with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes, then raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and invert pans onto wax paper-lined wire racks. Allow to cool completely. Frost.

Not-Too-Sweet Frosting

In mixer bowl, beat:

½ c. (1 stick) butter, softened

2 T flour

1 c. confectioners’ sugar

Speck salt

1 t. vanilla

Blend well. Frost rolls.

Sometimes I’ll arrange the long tube into two or three large circles, cutting slits every inch or so and then bake and frost with green frosting to make wreath-looking rolls.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Activities - Days 9 - 14 Catching Up!

Aagh! I didn't keep up with posting the Advent activities. No surprise, but still disappointing. So, now I'm catching up. We did keep up as a family but just didn't get them posted.

Day 9 card reads:
Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. Isaiah 9:6; 2 Cor. 7:6
Activity: Jesus has all of God's wisdom and has given it to us through His Word. The Holy Spirit brings it to our minds as we learn His Word and He gives comfort and wise counsel through it. Today we set up the next two oldests' nativities.

Day 10 says:
Jesus is the Mighty God.  Isaiah 9:6; Rev. 5:8-14
Activity:  As God, Jesus is worthy of our worship and obedience. One of the best gifts we can give to Him, indeed we owe Him, is obedience. As He said, if we love Him we will obey Him. It's the least we can do for him and actually, we will be happier if we do obey. "There's no other way to be happy in Jesus thatn to trust and obey." Today we get to enjoy baking sugar cookies, most of which we'll freeze for future decorating.

Day 11 reads:
Jesus is the Everlasting Father.  Isaiah 9:6; John 10:27-30
Activity:  God has blessed us with an opportunity to know Him as Father through the loving earthly father He has given. Fathers love, sacrifice, encourage, inspire, strengthen, teach, hold accountable, provide and carry burdens for us. Our Heavenly Father does all this without sin or tiredness! Today we'll have a special Father/Daughter Christmas Tea.
(Another lady in our church helped me to prepare a tea for all the fathers and daughters of our church. We had lots of delicious goodies, a fine talk from our pastor about the relationships between fathers and their children and games of family teams as well as individuals. It was fun to make up a game of matching fathers and daughters of the Bible. You could just make a little tea time at home for your own family members to simplify this activity.)

Our family at the Father/Daughter Tea.

Day 12 says:
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6; John 14:27
Activity:  Jesus brought a peace that is everlasting, not just for the moment. We can have peace in our hearts even though there seems to be chaos and commotion going on all around us because we know that He is in control of all things and we have nothing to fear nor anything about which to worry.  Today we get to hang our stockings.

Day 13 is:
Jesus is the Light of the World.  Luke 1:78-79; John 8:12
Activity:  Sin has darkened our world. The light of truth, joy and peace cannot shine through the sinfulness unless Jesus breaks through that awful darkness and reveals Himself as the Light that allows us to see the Truth - God Himself.  Today we get to hand Christmas lights in the windows and outdoors.

Day 14 (today) says:
Jesus is the Cornerstone. Ps. 118:22
It is upon Jesus, His Godhood, His life on earth and His death and resurrection, that all our faith is built. Just as a rightly laid strong cornerstone causes a building to be put up correctly and to stand strongly for a very long time, so Jesus builds His church correctly and strongly. It's all about Him.  Today we building little buildings ourselves of gingerbread or graham crackers and decorate them with candies.

The Guinea Pig's graham cracker house from 2006.
This week we got to make use of the versatility of this advent system.  Since, for the most part, this plan doesn't have to come about in any certain order, the cards have blanks for the day numbers, so I pencil in the numbers as they fit into what's happening otherwise in our lives. We had originally planned to do the gingerbread houses on Monday with some friends, but realized that would be rushed because of a doctor appointment in the afternoon, so we changed the cards and are doing the gingerbread houses today instead. We have also made it that we don't actually get our tree till the day after The Guinea Pig gets home from college because it's such a fun family activity (snowball fights, cutting our own tree, throwing Mom into a snowbank, having hot cocoa, decorating the tree together, getting ornament hangers from the Hanger Doober Dude, etc.) that he couldn't be left out of it. So you can rearrange things to fit how your family does it.

I hope you're enjoying your Christmas season and are using many Christ-centered ideas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Activities - Day 8

Continuing to post our Advent Activity plans, the card for Day 8 (tucked into Matthew 21) reads:

Jesus is our Prophet, Priest and King.  Acts 3:22-25; Heb. 4:14-16; Matt. 21:5-11
Activity: A prophet is a messenger, one who tells God's word and foretells God's doings. Jesus brought the good news of salvation from God as well as foretelling many things which did happen and have yet to happen. A priest represents the people before God, delivers offerings to Him and brings God's forgiveness to the people.  Jesus pleads our cause before His Father, delivered Himself up as our offering to God and brought forgiveness to all who believe in Him. Jesus is our King who rules our lives and worlds and who is worthy of our adoration. Today let's decorate our home to honor our King and the celebration of His birth. We'll save the lights till later.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Activities - Days 6 & 7

I got to thinking that, just in case anybody actually wants to do some of the advent activities we're doing, I should post them a day or two ahead of when they would be done so you could prepare for them. So I'm now posting days 6 and 7.

Day 6 card (tucked into Psalm 19) will read:
God gives us the gift of His word. Psalm 19:7-11
Activity:  To remind us of the sweetness of God's law, today we will bake Jesus' birthday cupcakes. 
*(Into six of the cupcakes we have baked foil-wrapped slips of paper which say things like "Present Passing Pal," "Turn on tree lights," "Turn on window/outdoor lights," "Put first ornament on tree," "Put star on treetop," "Pass out the stockings." Each of our six children get one of these cupcakes in which is hidden their privilege for the season.)*

Day 7 card (tucked into John 3) will say:
God gives us the most precious gift of His Son, Jesus.  John 3:16-17
Activity:  Through God's giving up His Son for us, he has given us so many gifts. Jesus is our Salvation, our Redeemer, our Master or Lord, our Friend and He is our only comfort and hope. From now till Christmas Eve, our advent will focus on some of the names given to Jesus so we can see what a wonderful gift He is. Today we will set out the two youngest girls' nativity sets. 
*(We have given each child their own nativity set throughout the years since we have wanted our decorations and thoughts to be primarily about the true meaning and event of Christmas.)*

While I'm doing these posts, I also want to show you some of our special decorations and share some favorite recipes, so today I'll share this wallhanging which I put together last year.

The story behind this is special to me. You see, my mom made the center crewel work years ago and just never got it framed. She asked if I'd like it, which of course I did, so I brought it home to think of what to do with it. I "just happened" to be doing a star themed Block of the Month at the local quilt shop with Thimbleberries fabric which "just happened" to go perfectly with the colors in Mom's crewel. So they came together in a very happy union with a four embroidery blocks of "Wonderful Counselor," "Mighty God," "Everlasting Father," and "Prince of Peace" added to the mix. I hand-quilted it and it now hangs in our dining room.

Because of His precious gift of love, I

Advent Activities - Days 3, 4 & 5

Well, I guess I knew I'd have trouble keeping up with posting an Advent activity every day, so I'm playing catch-up now. It's been busy with voice recital and working on the voice teacher's quilt as well as our own Christmas preparations and then running a fever with an awful headache for a couple of days. But, hopefully that's done with!

So, here's the Advent card for Day 3 (tucked into Romans 6):
God gives us the gift of eternal life.  Romans 6:23
Activity: Since we're so blessed with the gift of eternal life, let's share the joy by writing our Christmas letter to our family and friends. You may pick you own photo to go with it (with Mom's final approval).
*(We let each of the children write or dictate a paragraph - or page if you're the resident wordy one. That may be changing as some are getting tired of doing this.)*

The Advent card for Day 4 (tucked into Ephesians 2) says:
 God gives us the gift of faith.  Ephesians 2:8-10
Activity: Since we have been given this precious gift, by which we are saved from sin, we want to share the faith with others. We can get a start at that by making good relationships with people.  Today's activity is to make gift bags to take to our neightbors and to the librarians and health care helpers. Also prepare for tomorrow's gift-giving to church members.

The Advent card for Day 5 - today - (tucked into Ephesians 4) says:

God gives us the gift of grace and spiritual gifts.  Ephesians 4:7-16
Activity: Even as we are to pass along the spiritual gifts God gives us by ministering to our church family, today we will also pass along material gifts to our church family.
*(Since we have only seven families in our church, it's not a monstrous thing to give a gift bag to each family. Last year, we had the fun of having each family over for desserts throughout the Christmas season and gave their gifts then, but this year we're just handing them out at church and may plan to have families over after Christmas when Guinea Pig is home from college. This activity didn't actually work out for today because there was a glitch in our Cinnamon Jelly making, so we have to re-do and hand out the gifts next Sunday.  The best-laid plans...Oh, well, it teaches us flexibility.)*

We're also counting down the days till the Guinea Pig gets home from college. The younger girls made a paper chain to count it down. I wish he could have been home to hear three of his sisters in their first-ever voice recital.  They did great!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Activities - Days 1 & 2

I know I'm a "day late and a dollar short", but "better late than never". The plan is to post a series on our Advent activities and hope that I keep up. :)

We start by hanging this wallhanging which was a little-by-little work of several years.  The Log Cabin Christmas Tree pattern came from Quilt in a Day and is fairly simple to put together. 

Then I decided to turn it into an Advent calendar by cross-stitching the numbers and adding them to the bottom.  Little plastic canvas circles hung on hooks became ornament pouches by sewing two together for sliding in little slips of paper.  In previous years, those slips of paper have said what activity we do for that day.  This year is a little different.  To start our 24 days, we're looking at seven of the gifts that God gives us, culminating in the seventh being Jesus himself.  Then we're focusing some of the names of Jesus. So in each ornament is written one or two Scripture references. The Scripture references lead us to the Bible wherein is tucked the advent card for the day. 

Yesterday's card (tucked into James 1)said: 
Day 1 - God gives us wealth and every good gift.  Eccl. 5:19; James 1:17
Activity:  Find the $10 bill hidden shomewhere in the main living rooms of the house (not in bedrooms or bathrooms).  Whoever finds it get to put it in the Jesus' Birthday Bank (*something we collect thoughout the year and give to a worthy charity at Christmas as our "gift" to Jesus*) and get to keep the $1 bill hidden iwth it.  There is no time limit on this, butyour responsibilities must be done before you may spend time searching.  When it is found, we will prepare the Jesus' Birthday Bank money for mailing or taking.

Today's card (tucked into Galatians 5) reads:
Day 2. God gives us the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38-39; Gal. 5:22-26
Activity:  It is the Holy Spirit in us that enables us to do anything good or right.  Relying on His power to help you, write on an index card what gift of righteousness you want to give back to Him this coming year and keep it in your personal devotions caddy so you can pray for His power and be reminded to work on it daily.  Let's remember to pray for each other's spiritual growth also.

These cards are 1/4 of a sheet of paper, printed on red cardstock.  I hope to post photos of them along the way, but my computer is being particularly slow today.  Maybe I'll even figure out how to make a separate page and put the whole plan up there, as soon as I get it all written. :)  Inspiration struck late this year so it's all a little fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants.

Since this post has been kind of a rush job in between getting breakfast for people, I'm happy to try to clarify any confusions I may have caused.

Blessed beyond measure, I

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Birds and Children Know

Here's a good something to keep in mind as we enter the "busy holiday season."  Even if we don't have time or place for quiet meditation like we'd sometimes enjoy, we can create a quiet and serene atmosphere in our homes and especially in our hearts.

I need wide space in my heart,
Where faith and I can go apart,
And grow serene.
Life gets too choked by busy living;
Kindness so lost in fussy giving,
That love slips by unseen.

I want to make a quiet place,
Where those I love can see God's face,
Can stretch their heart across the earth,
Can understand what Spring is worth;

Can count the stars;
Watch violets grow,
And learn what birds and children know.

From the Scottish Recorder 1930


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Notebook

I've had such a blessed time this morning, while the older girls were out hunting with their dad, doing some Thanksgiving preparations with the younger two.  While the girls painted the Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers and pumpkin napkin rings,

I worked on the Thanksgiving blessing notes of which I'd written yesterday. Many of them go along with the Thanksgiving wallhanging which I explained yesterday also. We had several years' worth of notes jumbled in a box, so I sorted them chronologically as best I could and began gluing them into a regular old composition notebook with spray adhesive (a sticky messy job best done on an old sheet).  It was a delight to read the old papers and to chuckle at the spellings of younger children.  I wrote in a few stories of what was going on at the time, to explain some of the blessings and for future generations to enjoy.

Then, still using the spray adhesive as well as the hot glue gun, I covered the notebook with fabric and glued yellow cardstock to the insides of the covers to cover up the fabric edges.

It all ended up using quite a few pages (I told you yesterday that we're much blessed!), so this notebook might have to soon be joined by another.  The more the merrier!

I believe this is a very valuable use of time and a little money because we are commanded many times in the Bible to give thanks, to count our blessings, to remember what great things (and little things) God has done for us.  It also lifts our spirits to get our minds onto the good things.  As Elisabeth Elliot puts it, "We accept and thank God for what is given, not allowing the not-given to spoil it."

Much blessed, I

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Wallhanging

How do you count your blessings, specifically during the Thanksgiving season?  Around our home, this season is celebrated very diligently as we have so much for which to be thankful.  We don't allow any Christmas celebrating to begin until we've wrung all the giving thanks out of the Thanksgiving weekend that we can.  (Actually, one can't totally wring all the thanksgiving out, since there are an infinite number of things for which to be thankful.)  We do have pianists practicing Christmas music and surruptitious Christmas gift-making going on all over, but other than that we're making sure that we don't skip the all-important holy-day of Thanksgiving.

So, to help us focus on this day, we read books like The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh and Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin as well as Samuel Eaton's Day, Sarah Morton's Day and Tapenum's Day by Kate Waters.  We also paint ceramic figures of pilgrims that I glazed years ago so that we could wash them off and repaint every year.  Our church has a worship service on Thanksgiving morning and then feasting together in the afternoon and evening.  On either Friday or Saturday we have individual family feasts and celebrating and then gather together on the other day again for a talent show, cooking contest and shared meal.  Then our Sunday worship service again reinforces our giving of thanks to our gracious triune God.

But to help focus on giving thanks for our many blessings in our home, we have the Thanksgiving wallhanging.

We cut apples, pumpkins and leaves from colored contruction paper and keep them in a pocket on the tree trunk till we're ready to write another blessing for which we're thankful.  Straight pins hold them to the wallhanging.  Little people who don't write so well draw theirs (and get help with the straight pin!).

This was such a simple and quick wallhanging to make.  I just zig-zag stitched the large shapes onto a square of flannel without even putting in any batting.  Then it was a quick job to sew on the binding.

This year I'm starting a notebook in which I will glue all the apples, pumpkins and leaves from this year as well as some we still have from previous years.  It should become a precious blessings journal.

Because of all God's many blessings, I

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Words of Wisdom - Living

To touch the cup with eager lips and taste, not drain it;
To woo and tempt and court a bliss - and not attain it;
To fondle and caress a joy, yet hold it lightly,
Lest it become necessity and cling too tightly;
To watch the sun set in the west without regretting;
To hail its advent in the east - the night forgetting;
To smother care in happiness and grief in laughter;
To hold the present close - not questioning hereafter;
To have enough to share - to know the joy of giving;
To thrill with all the sweets of life - is living.
                              - Unknown author

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Business of Bartering

I finally figured out how to add an Etsy store button to my sidebar, so if you're interested in some of the crafts we do around here, but don't care to make them yourself, you can check them out in our store (LilacCottageCreation).  Today I added another tea cozy.
These are so simple to make and I'll post a tutorial (or at least simple instructions) if there is an interest.

I've also gotten to make a good start on the quilt that we're bartering for voice lessons for two of the girls.

I'm so glad the voice teacher likes the bright colors that have been calling to me lately so I get to enjoy working with them.  They honestly make me smile.

It has been such a blessing to me and the rest of the fabric that we've been able to barter for some services.  Our relationship with the piano teacher also first began through a hand-quilting job she needed done.  As I told in a previous post, I was able to barter machine quilting for a hand-quilting job and now I get to trade a quilt for voice lessons.  If you have a skill or interest or commodity, consider trying to barter with it.  It doesn' hurt to try.  I'd love to hear any barter stories people have to share - I could use more ideas!

Because God has blessed us so richly, I

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reformation Day celebrations

With all the studying and preparing food and sewing dresses and frustrating antique computer, I've not blogged in quite a while, but I want to share some of the fun and blessings of our church's Reformation Day celebrations.  Since Reformation Day (Oct. 31) was on a Sunday this year, we decided to make the celebrations extend over the whole weekend.

Friday night was a square dance with many of the particpants being dressed in medieval-type costume.  Precious had spent much time sewing dresses, hats and/or capes for our girls.  Her own dress was made from a set of queen size satin sheets found at a yard sale for $2.00!  And a little boughten fabric and trim (on sale, of course).

The dress she made for Sweetie was also a sheet given to us by Aunt Barb; the vest made from a sheet and fabric piece from a thrift store and the overskirt was from an old dress-up dress we had for childrens' play.  I love repurposing!

The blue fabric for these outfits also came from a yard sale (16 yards for $5.00).  Pixie Face's dress was made last year, as was the matching one I wore this year and the Roo's white dress was a thrift store find.

Princess' dress was a hand-me-down from some friends.

Saturday was games, potluck and bonfire at our house.  After a delightful time of worship on Sunday, we had a shared meal and then a pie contest!  That was a delicious time!  And Princess got Honorable Mention for her mixed berry pie.  It was wonderfully tasty.

Again we're rejoicing, in the truth of the Reformation and in the joy of celebrating it.  So I

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

"It is love in old age, no longer blind, that is true love.  For love's highest intensity doesn't necessarily mean its highest quality.  Glamour and jealousy are gone; and the ardent caress, no longer needed, is valueless compared to the reassuring touch of a trembling hand.  Passersby commonly see little beauty in the embrace of young lovers on a park bench, but the understanding smile of an old wife to her husband is one of the loveliest things in the world."  - Booth Tarkington

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Finishes!

I have joined the line-up of people needing encouragment to finish their quilting projects at Joys Quilts (and as soon as I figure out how to do it, I'm going to add her button to my sidebar).  So I get to show off my two finishes for October (in a humble sort of way, of course).
This yo-yo vest has been in the works for close to two years now, I think.  I designed it by tracing a vest that Princess already had.  I'm tickled that it still fits her and that she likes it.  And I'm tickled to be finished!

Joy also encourages us to finish a quilt block, for instance from a block of the month.  This past January, I began giving block patterns to the ladies of our church in an effort, mostly, to help myself use up my scraps.  I also had four of my five daughters joining in, in more of an effort at using up more of our scraps.  We did pretty well for awhile, but when summer came, everything got set aside for being outside.  So, now it's time to get caught up and back on schedule.  Two of my girls informed me that they thought the blocks were too difficult and they didn't want to continue.  Though I explained that I'd stand right over them and take them step-by-step through them, I didn't think it was something that they really had to do and they're enjoying learning other handwork right now.  So, I'm working on what they had started or what I had cut out already for them and will probably turn those blocks into a smaller quilt for charity. 
Anyhow, here is the block that Princess had started and I finished up this week:

Thanks, Joy, for the encouragement from clear over in Australia!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

First Handsewing/quilting Project

What do you do when your six-year-old has trouble telling her right hand from her left?  How about if this causes trouble during her piano practice?  And how do you help her get comfortable with needle and thread? 
Well, besides painting The Peanut's fingernails red on the right hand and blue on the left hand and color coordinating her piano music to match with red and blue pencils, here's how we're working on both challenges and having a fun project, too!

She enjoyed sticking her hands in the paints and putting them on old sheet fabric.  Then with a special quilter's disappearing ink pen (the ink disappears in water), I wrote LEFT and RIGHT for her to embroider with a simple back-stitch.  Then I made dashed outlines of the hands with about 1/2 inch long dashes for her to quilt the batting and backing onto the panel.  She has now finished all the stitching and we're going to work on putting a binding around it, label the back (a must with all good quilters) and hang it above the piano. 
She's excited about getting it done and with the possibility that we might enter it in the fair next summer!

On another note, today is my nephew's birthday, so we wish him a very happy day, though his day is about over since he's on the other side of the world as a missionary kid in the Philippines.
Again rejoicing in God's blessings, I

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Repurposed clothes

Thanks to some friends, we have found a fun way to have some new clothes for less money and to have the fun of sewing without the not-so-fun challenge of zippers, facings, buttonholes, etc.  We enjoy finding clothes at thrift stores and yard sales and remaking them to our liking. 

Here are some samples:

To do the skirts, we cut them off just below the pockets, as in the left photo, or longer, as in the right one.  The fabric strips are as wide as you like (ours were aboutt 7 inches thick), with the length of each strip being 20 inches longer than the previous level (also depends on how ruffly you want your layers to look).  Sew the short ends right sides together to make a tube and then gather and sew to the previous strip or to the denim, depending on where you are in your sewing.

This dress just took some very simple adding on to match the embroidery of the dress.

A too-short denim shirt became a cute dress by sewing the bottom of the shirt closed and then adding layers of gathered fabric.

So, if you find a cute dress or skirt that might just be too short for modesty, just add too it.  A note to novice seamstresses, you'll want to cut off the thick hems from denim skirts before you try to gather and sew to it.
I hope you get to give this a try.  It's lots of fun!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

To a Friend
by Grace Stricker Dawson

You entered my life in a casual way,
And saw at a glance what I needed;
There were others who passed me or met me each day,
But never a one of them heeded.
Perhaps you were thinking of other folks more,
Or chance simply seemed to decree it;
I know there were many such chances before,
But the others - well, they didn't see it.

You said just the thing that I wished you would say,
And you made me believe that you meant it;
I held up my head in the old gallant way,
And resolved you should never repent it. 
There are times when encouragement means such a lot,
And a word is enough to convey it;
There were others who could have, as easy as not -
But, just the same, they didn't say it.

There may have been someone who could have done more
To help me along, though I doubt it;
What I needed was cheering, and always before
They had let me plod onward without it.
You helped to refashion the dream of my heart,
And made me turn eagerly to it;
There were others who might have (I question that part) -
But, after all, they didn't do it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musing - Loving the Saints

We were blessed yesterday to have Rev. Nate Harlan as a guest preacher and he presented a different view of Revelation 2:1-7 than I've ever heard.  He postulated that the "first love" that the Ephesians had lost was not necessarily their love for Christ, but their love for "all the saints" as they were commended to continue to have in Paul's epistle to them.  He also asserted that, since the city of Ephesus no longer exists, their "lampstand" was removed and that was because they probably did not heed Christ's exhortation in Revelation.

Pastor Harlan then went on to encourage us to truly love the saints and for that love to be a light in the community and to extend to those outside the faith.  He pointedly asked us how long it had been since we had had another family over to our home for dinner; how long had it been since we had shared from the heart over a shared dinner; how long since we'd looked our brother in the eye across a meal table; how long since we'd shared joys and sorrows with each other.

Now I must say that our church is abnormally good at sharing with each other.  Every Tuesday evening our sweet pastor's wife hosts a ladies' tea for all the ladies 12 years old and up; our young men and older men get together usually once a week for breakfast and comraderie; we often have group gatherings/shared meals in our yards during the summer; we have fellowship meals after worship service twice a month; we often get together for work opportunities like reroofing someone's house or tiling someone's new bathroom floor or gathering firewood for the elders.  But, there's always room for improvement, right, and so his sermon was right on the nose and of great value to each of us.

I especially was convicted because I had just been groaning to one of my daughters about how difficult it is to fit more people into our dining room during the winter when we don't have the option of socializing outside for most of the evening.  The smallest of the whole families in our church have six children, the largest have ten.  So I was unwilling to be inconvenienced for the sake of serving others a welcoming, hospitable dinner.  And of course, like most Michiganders right now, we have to consider the financial question. 

But Pastor Harlan didn't bring up either of those issues - as if they didn't really bear enough weight to excuse us from obeying the command reiterated in Romans 12:13.  So now we're working on ideas of how we can more easily fit people in - maybe be less stuffy and go ahead and use TV trays in the living room.  And we certainly don't have to serve a seven course dinner which would break the bank account.  Warm, filling, hefty soups and breads are a delightful way to feel cozy together.  Pastor would agree, I'm sure, as he praised our dinner of Corn Chowder and bread and salad which we got to serve him and his family after worship.  And then the impromptu supper of roasted hotdogs with whomever could show up at our bonfire was a lot of fun, too.

Because God continues to work in us to make us more like him, I

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Look at what I get to play with!

You may remember that in July I made a signature quilt for The Guinea Pig as he was going off to college. I was blessed when the machine quilting lady offered to barter the work - she'd do the machine quilting (and she threw in the batting and backing) in exchange for me doing some handquilting that she'd had to do for a customer.  She said the handquilting didn't have to be done till about October, so I was extra happy. 

Since it's been a mighty hot summer for Michigan, I put off doing the quilting till it cooled off some.  It's stifling to have a heavy quilt laying across your lap while you're working on it.  But now I'm getting fully into the quilting of this queen sized beautiful Double Irish Chain.

The quilt was purchased at an estate sale, only partially quilted.  So I got to make a template of the border quilting and am using that to finish quilting the maroon border area, which was about 1/3 done.  I don't know if you can see it very well, but the quilting in the the large white areas looks somewhat Celtic which would go well with the Irish Chain.  The previous quilter had put a lot of detail into her quilting, but her stitches were a little on the big and uneven side.  It's fun to see how other people do things.

When I get this one done (which should be in just a few days), I can start quilting the pretty cat quilt that Princess put together.  I'll show that later.  Now it's time to get ready for a birthday tea for the "Grandma" of our church.

So many blessings make me

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Words of Wisdom

I'm not sure how wise these words were, but I just can't resist posting them.  And since I am a "Woverine" (Michigander) I am allowed to get a chuckle out of this.

From the Davy Crockett Almanac:
The chaps from the Wolverine state, are the all-greediest, ugliest, an sourest characters on all Uncle Sam's twenty-six farms, they are, in thar natur, like their wolfish namesakes, always so etarnal hungry that they bite at the air, and hang their underlips, and show the harrow teeth of their mouths, as if they'd jump right into you, an swaller you hull, without salt.  They are, in fact, half wolf, half man, and 'tother half saw mill.  I met a wolverine one day in the forest, who had just swallowed a buck, an that war only enough to start his appetite, an make him al ravenous; he turned up his eyes at me, an opened his arthquake jaws as if he war going to chop off my head without axin.  I chucked a lamb or two at him but it war no more use than a hoss-fly to a buzzard.  "Mr. Wolverine," says I, "you stare at me with a reg'lar cannibal grin, but darn me, if you mustn't fight before you can bite; my name's Crockett, an I'm an airthquake, and if the critter didn't draw up his under-lip, and fall to eaten off the bark of a tree, while his eyes watered along with his mouth, then take my whiskers for wolf skins.
There; don't that just make yer day?!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Being Weary in Doing Good

So many of us know the verse - "Let us not grow weary in doing good; in due season we shall reap."  And there are so many ways we can apply it to our lives - do not grow weary in washing the dishes; in due season you will have a pretty and clean kitchen as well as clean dishes for your next delightful meal; do not grow weary in doing laundry for in due season you shall have neat, clean clothes in your closet; do not grow weary in teaching your children math for in due season you will have competent, educated offspring; do not grow weary in speaking kindly to your husband and children for in due season you will have good family relationships, etc., etc.

Lately I've been thinking more about the consistent, longevity aspect of not growing weary in well-doing.  In fact, several of the ladies of our church and I have talked about it together, mostly bemoaning the fact that we haven't maintained with our younger children the training and teaching that we gave to our older children.  For instance, our older children were taught almost perfect manners while the younger ones have been somewhat "left to themselves and bring their mothers to shame" in some areas of manners.  The older ones were taught better in the area of neatness and order, while the youngers leave their clothes on the floor and don't pick up their toys from the living room floor very well.  The older ones knew Bible stories frontwards and backwards while the little ones barely know David and Goliath.  The younger ones, especially last-borns, are bossy with their friends and try to be with their older siblings, if allowed.

I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons for such negligence, but if we can find out why this has come about, maybe we can make some changes.  Some of the reasons I've noticed include:  mom's gotten lazy or just tired of training little ones and wants to move on with the older ones, mom's busy blogging, mom has more children to teach and watch, big sister just picks things up herself instead of gently teaching youngers, little ones are left in the care of siblings who might not care so much for training, the family has taken on more activities whether necessary or not, we kind of forget that the little ones haven't been trained in that area since we've already done so much training in that area, we often baby the last-born since it doesn't appear that God's going to give us any more babies and the list could probably go on!

It takes work and it takes not getting weary, but let me encourage ME and you to recommit ourselves to the training and teaching of ALL of our children in good things and to find stamina, longevity and consistency by remembering that "those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:30b-31  We may also have to reevaluate (again and again) what we 're doing with our time to see if it is the best use of that nonrenewable resource at this season in life.  Just because our children are now older doesn't necessarily mean that we are not so needed as teacher/trainers.

Because His mercies are new every morning and thus there's hope for me, I

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Easing into our studies

This past week we eased into some of our studies again.  More easing than I had hoped, but we found some other things that REALLY needed doing, so we did them.  For instance, the goal of having each child do a "Book of the Centuries" (timeline-type notebook) is finally coming about, after years of thinking about doing it.  So this last week I scrounged up notebooks (I buy them at yard sales and thrift stores), printed off pages from http://guesthollow.com/homeschool/printables/timeline/timeline.html. tweaked the pages a little and then set off with my copy of Usshur's Annals of the World to decide what the girls should have in their books.  That's rather time-consuming, though interesting to a history nut.  Peanut Pixie-face joined me for part of that and pasted drawings of Adam and Eve, Noah, the tower of Babel, etc. into her book till she was ready to move on to something more active. So that project has been laid out on a table in the dining room as well as at one end of the dining table.

The rest of the dining table has been covered in patterns and pattern pieces that were not properly put away, so they had to be sorted and put away.  Precious got that job since she's the one most interested in sewing (and is partially to blame for the mess).  That resulted in several things:  the dining room table being unusable (it's a good thing we have TV trays for meals, if necessary), the patterns slowly getting organized, some patterns being deemed unnecessary, and inspiring Precious to get back into sewing.  She now has a new blouse almost completed made from some of my overflowing fabric stash.  When she'd need a break from the sorting, she'd go up to her machine and sew awhile.  It also inspired her to do some of her mending. 

Meanwhile, Sweetie made up some chicken soup and blueberry muffins to freeze for our lunches on "school" days so we don't have to take a real long lunch break.  We still have about four more lunch ideas to get made.

We also got to help clean the building in which our church meets and had a good time socializing and gasping at the dirt and mold found therein.  We start with our church fall schedule of having meals there every other Sunday and I'll feel much better knowing that it's cleaned up for that.

So, though we didn't get much more than math done in the academic area, we've not been wasting time, by any means.  And, as we homeschoolers are fond of saying, "You're always learning, no matter what you're doing."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blessed with zucchini?

Are you, like most people, overly blessed with zucchini at this time of the year?  We're blessed just right this year, so we've had enough to try this new recipe from my father-in-law.  Those of my children who do not care for dishes from the squash family even like this one.  And it's simple (my kind of cooking!).  I nicknamed it "Cheesycchini" or you could just call it Cheesy Zucchini Casserole.

In a large bowl, mix:  1 1/3 c. flour
                                2 tsp. baking powder
                                salt and pepper
                                1/4 of a green pepper (opt.)
                                2 beaten eggs
                                1/2 c. oil
                                1 c. grated cheese

Add:                        4 c. grated, or diced, zucchini
                               1/2 onion, grated or chopped small
Mix well.  Spread in 9x13 pan or large casserole dish.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

We enjoyed this last evening with some venison steaks that friends had shared with us since ours ran out long ago.

Thankful for all our garden bounty, I

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blueberry Blessings + Recipe

As I mentioned before, we've been blessed with FREE blueberries from an unsprayed patch that's rather large.  My husband's coworker's grandfather used to raise blueberries as a hobby and after he passed on, the patch hasn't been used much.  So, we've been given the go-ahead to pick and to take church friends with us.  The only down side to it is that it is an hour's drive away.  So we make sure we stay several hours to make the gas money worth it.

Besides the blessing of free healthy food, we've also had the blessings of fellowship with friends and we've been able to make up Blueberry Spice Jam and sell it through friends at the area farm markets.  So Lilac Cottage Kitchen Creations is born.

Here's our recipe for Blueberry Spice Jam, taken from Stocking Up:
Bring to a boil:  8 cups of blenderized blueberries
                        3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
                        1 cup honey
After it's boiling add:  about 1 T. lemon juice
                                 1 t. cinnamon
                                 1/2 t. ground cloves
Cook till thick, remembering that it thickens up a little as it cools.  You have to stir often to keep it from burning on bottom.  I'm experimenting with using the crockpot for this step today.

We can this in jelly jars (hot water bath for 10 minutes) and add the label (with requirements from the Michigan Department of Agriculture since we're not a certified kitchen) and sell them for $4.00 a jar.

Enjoying the blessings, I

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

50 Days to Love Your Lover

This is going to just be a quick post to call for help and ideas because FREE blueberries are still calling, so I have to much time (more on that later). 

Here's why I need ideas:  Last Friday my darling husband turned 50 years old, and to celebrate I, somewhat belatedly, came up with the idea of doing a 50 Days to Love Your Lover.  The plan is to do something special for him for 50 days, having started on Friday with going out for dinner and a movie.  On Saturday, we had the cake and ice cream and gifts and then at Sunday breakfast I gave him a note that said I'd give him a backrub lasting at least 20 minutes.  On Monday, I slipped him a little dark chocolate candy; on Tuesday I gave him a little gift I'd found at a yard sale.  Tonight I plan to slip this silly moustache cup in at his place at the table.  It was a yard sale find, too, with nothing on it so I wrote his nickname on it.
The little sticker is just an address label I printed up that says "50 Days to Love Your Lover" which I've been putting on all the little gifts or notes.

Tomorrow's plan is to give him a game (also a yard sale find) and then Friday evening we've invited over a group of men and young men from church to have a men's game night with sloppy joes, but don't tell him because it's a surprise.  He doesn't usually read this, so I think I'm safe. :)  I also have plans like meeting in the back yard for some quiet time together, taking him out for a Coke by the river, "Something About You for Which I'm Thankful" notes in his lunch and more yard sale find gifts, I hope.  So, any ideas you can send my way would be wonderful!

Because I'm thankful to have a loving, faithful husband, I

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yard Sale Find!

I have got to show you my find!  It was at a yard sale that was less than pristine, but we scrounged through it anyhow, knowing that we had hand sanitizer in the car.  I saw a table topped, just a quilt top, not quilted and was admiring it, wondering if I wanted to remove all the knick-knacks that were covering it when the woman said she had another like it.  Folded on a chair was a whole quilt top that's about queen size.  And it's the Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern, one of my favorites!  And it's hand-pieced!
She was asking $20.00 for it and I easily talked her down to $15.00!  I'm rather excited about that.  It smelled awfully of cigarette smoke and mustiness, so I washed it with Shaklee's Basic G and now it smells rather nice. 
It's rather interesting in that it looks like someone tried to finish it later with a sewing machine, adding some more to the side which doesn't follow the pattern exactly.  So, I may take that part out and just make it a little narrower, using those blocks for something else.

Now I have to decide what I'm going to do with it.  Should I keep it?  (Would love to, but sure could use any money earned from it.)  Should I hand quilt it and sell it in an still-to-be-set-up Etsy store?  Should I sell it as is on ebay or Etsy?  I hope to take it to quilt guild meeting since there's a lady there who is an expert on dating fabrics and she might be able to tell me it's age and value.
Right now, though, I have to get off to pick more FREE blueberries.
Because of His many blessings, I

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quilt project finished and revealed

I can finally post about a special project I've had over this summer since it has been gifted to my son who might have read about it on here.

We kind of have a tradition in our church of giving a signed quilt to people who are moving away so they can be reminded of our love for them even while they are away.  So, since our son The Guinea Pig is off to college tomorrow, I made sure that he got one also.  Since I'm the chief quiltmaker in church, I get to make sure that's done.  So, here it is.

We unveiled it at our church "send-off" Sunday evening and he was very thankful for it.  I was so blessed that he loved it and I was tickled that it got all done before he got home.  So it's been in hiding till Sunday.

My local quilter from Quilt Something quilted it up quickly for me in exchange for some hand-quilting that she needed done, so I was very thankful for that chance to barter.  (And I don't have to get my part done till October, which is nice because it's kinda hot for having a quilt across my lap for quilting.)

I'm also thankful because the green fabric came from the freebie table at our quilt guild meeting.  There was also some maroon fabric, but it turned out to not be enough, but was useful in getting my mind to thinking of those colors together.  So I went searching at another local quilt shop (we're much blessed around here) and found some Thimbleberries fabric on 50% sale!  I am thanking the Lord for the little, yet big ways in which He blesses us.

The send-off party was a nice time of fellowship, food, volleyball, tetherball, water fights and words of wisdom from the men and young men of the church. 

It's good to have a church like Christ the King Church of Ferry, Michigan, which supports and helps our efforts in raising our children for the Lord, rather than us having to "unteach" our children after church.  Because of our many blessings, I

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Wanderer Returns

Happy day at our house yesterday!  The Guinea Pig surprised most everybody by cruising up the driveway at about noon to be bombarded by hugs and excitement.  He had gotten off night shift at 6:00 a.m., packed up his car and started driving home because he was "too wired" to sleep.  Twenty hours and only four hours of sleep later, he got here.

So we celebrated with watermelon and root beer floats and one of his favorite lunches - ravioli (frozen, I'm not much of a cook) and pesto and lemon butter garlic sauce and marinara sauce.  A game of volleyball (with an actual occasional volley) ensued and then he was off to take a nap.  In the evening we had to watch the movie of the roughnecks saving the world again.  And I cried again. :)  And I was so thankful that my roughneck son was home safe and sound for two weeks till he's off to college at New Saint Andrews College.

On a different note, http://www.raisinghomemakers.com/ is doing an intriguing giveaway of the book More Than a Hopechest by Amber Moeller.  I'm entering to hopefully see what this interesting-looking book is about.  With five young ladies around here and a young man who also has dreams of future spouse and family, I hope this book will help us in our pursuit of homemaking skills and beauty.

Counting my blessing, I

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Personal devotion workboxes

As part of the conversion to workboxes to organize our studies, yesterday I set up little carrier containers for each of our personal devotions, quiet times or whatever you prefer to call your Bible reading and prayer time.
I found the little carriers at Family Dollar for $1 each.  With each person's name on their carrier as well as stickers if they so choose, each one has a nice sized section for a small Bible and notecards (often the Lord gives me an idea of someone who needs an encouraging note), as well as a small section for a prayer reminder card or notebook or color-coded cards (I'm leaving that decision up to each girl). 
The medium-sized section is for Scripture memory cards made by typing them up in two columns, printing on colored cardstock and cheaply "laminated" with clear Contact paper.  I looked all over Walmart for rings for the memory cards, but ended up getting those clip things that campers and rock-climbers use.  They were $1.88 for two in the camping gear.  I was afraid that they'd be a little fat for my hole punch, but they are just right!  Roo decided to decorate her cards with some stickers.

With these nifty little helps, I hope we'll be more faithful in our pursuit of godliness.  During these glorious summer mornings, the girls enjoyed having their devotions outside this morning.

Trying to grow in Christ and orderliness, I