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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Candy Candyland

I have no idea why this photo turned sideways during the uploading process, but it did and we (including my expert daughter) can't figure out how to turn it rightways. But if you turn yourself or your computer sideways, you can see some of the fun we've had over the Christmas advent.

Instead of making regular gingerbread houses, we got the idea to make a Candyland board game. So each "child" chose a house to make and went at it.  We covered a little table with freezer paper, drew on the set-up and then placed the finished houses in their proper spots. We could have gotten Starbursts for the pathway, but that would run into more money and candy than I was happy with. So the Peanut Pixie-face had fun coloring in the spaces with markers.

I should say that we kinda cheat and use graham crackers instead of making our own gingerbread, but it works, we can get at the fun part quicker and you don't eat the stuff anyhow, so why go to the trouble?!

So, what was our inspiration to make Candyland? The 21-year-old college boy brought up the idea of playing it with his little sisters. A desire that was no doubt instilled in him by his granny loving to play it with him years ago.

I do now have a laptop (Merry Christmas to me), so hope to be able to show some of the other fun things we've done over the Christmas season as well as share more about homeschooling and such.

But for now, I wish you all a very blessed new year!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Organizing for the Holidays

Since the heart of the home during the holidays is definitely the kitchen (followed closely by the craft room), I decided last week that it was finally time to tackle the job that had been looming over me of thoroughly cleaning and organizing the kitchen. 
So we emptied EVERYTHING out of the cupboards and off the counter and stacked it wherever we could find an empty spot - all over the dining room and into the living room, too. 

After washing all the shelves, counters and doors with bleach water, we began the process of putting things back in an orderly fashion. The baking/spice area had been the worse, so I was happy to get things sorted and neatened in there. I discovered that I had duplicates of some things which aren't used that often, so I passed some along to my aunt.

I am especially pleased with this little tidbit of organization genius (if I do say so myself). The hardware department helped me out with this little screw and nail organizer. The only disadvantage is that it's hard to sprinkle cinnamon on our french toast with this method, but it can be sprinkled from a spoon if necessary. I do actually keep a sprinkling jar of cinnamon as well as this little drawer of it.

So our kitchen now looks pretty good, though we're going to have to be sure to maintain it. I'll have to wait for another post to show you my piece de resistance because my dial-up internet is slowing way down and I'm just tickled that I was able to upload three whole pictures! There is hope now for a satellite connection not too far in the future, though.

Hope you have some time to help yourself feel well-ordered this Thanksgiving/Christmas season. I have more organizing to do, but I wanted to share my good start.

Monday, October 31, 2011

During our annual Reformation Day Celebration, while the kids danced in joy before the Lord, I visited with friends, took oodles of pictures (but I only seem to be able to upload one picture/post on my antiquated computer), finished making my German Potato Salad, ran home to get forgotten piano music for the Talent Show & quilted hearts into the center blocks on this hope chest baby quilt.

I had put this together from leftovers of The Guinea Pig's farewell quilt, quilted most of it on the rented quilting machine and then decided that the hearts I'd tried to machine quilt in looked terrible, so I took them out and hand-quilted them in. Now if only I could find the label that I already wrote out for this. Sigh. Oh, well; I'm going to count it as a finish anyhow and will just rejoice all the more when I get the label on. This is for Sweetie's hope chest.

I hope to tell you more about our Reformation Day Celebration soon...as well as about another finish. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Little Finishes

I've had this maple leaf fabric for several years. First I tried to make a curtain as a door/wall to my sewing area so the creative process (mess) wouldn't be so visible from my living room, but the curtain wouldn't stay up. So the fabric languished in the stash pile for a couple of years till I finally got inspired and made the time to turn it into a fall shower curtain. The goal is to make a different curtain for each season. So far, I have summer and autumn. A hem all around and buttonholes for the curtain rings on top was a simple and fairly quick finish.
The crocheted rug is a recent finish by Princess. It was crocheted out of 1.5 inch strips torn from three twin sized sheets - red, blue and green. Very pretty, I think. And just what we needed as our bath rug was shredding.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

This little finish has also been in my mind for awhile, so it was nice to actually get it done. The red thingy was just inside the mouth of some juice jug, I think. (It's been just hanging around here too long to remember exactly.) You could use a pop bottle cap, but I wanted something a little bigger.

It is stuffed with wool roving (needlefelting wool) and topped with a circle cut from a laundered, therefore felted, wool sweater. I gathered the circle with wide basting stitches, tightened it all up, stuffed the circle with more roving and then glued it all into the red base with E6000 glue. I used that glue to stick it to my sewing machine. Now no more hunting under piles of quilt blocks, etc., for my pincushion!

Hope you're having some feeling of accomplishment today!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Coming Out of Retirement

Inspired by some things going on in quilt-blog-land and the fact that we're kinda settled into our homeschooling routine and I discovered that I can fit in some sewing and blogging, I've decided to come out of retirement. Of course, I still have the same slow computer and the same very slow dial-up connection to the internet, so until I can afford a laptop (it's not likely that we'll get beyond dial-up in our neck of the woods for quite some time yet) and can take the computer to some place where they have fast internet, I probably won't post a lot of pictures.

But I really want to get in on the Finish It Up Fridays at www.crazymomquilts.blogspot.com  because I need the encouragement and inspiration to finish up my mountain of Works in Progess, Projects At a Stand Still, Unfinished Objects...whatever fancy names people try to give to this dilemma of mine.

And I like what's going on over at http://www.dawnhayesdesigns.blogspot.com/ where people are explaining the origin of their blog names. Could be fun. My blog name comes from my two greatest interests - home (homeschooling, homemaking, homebirth, homecooking...) and piecing (quilts and the lives of our family).

And I have been reading some good books lately that I'd like to share with others.

And most my flesh and blood friends aren't all that interested in quilting.

And I like to share homeschooling and homemaking ideas.

And I want others to get to know about our rather unique church community - reformed theology, family-integrated, homeschooling, homemaking, welcoming to children as God sends them, caring, sacrificing for each other, encouraging each other to grow in the Lord, semi-agrarian, and all around good folk.

So, I'm back, for better or for worse.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Christmas Gift Crafting Idea

Hi. I'm back. At least for a moment to let you know about a crochet pattern I just listed in our Etsy store. If you like to crochet with size 10 crochet thread and you want to make some Christmas gifts or just make something nice for yourself or someone else, you might want to check out the pattern for wine goblet coasters, which would probably also work on water goblets.

Not only would the coasters beautify the goblets, but they also help to differentiate your goblet from someone else's. If you are not a crocheter, you can buy a set of four ready-made coasters. I plan to list more sets soon. Like within a day or two.

We're getting into the swing of our homeschooling schedule and are having fun trying to learn Latin together from an old textbook - all without knowing much of anything about it to start with. Fortunately, the Guinea Pig is learning it in college, so we can ply him with questions.

Still hoping for a faster computer and internet hook-up someday, I

Friday, September 2, 2011

Higher Priorities

Because of the very many other things in our lives that need much more of my attention, including teaching and training and enjoying my children and desiring to give more undivided attention to them and to my husband, I'm going to shut down here. I don't know if I'll ever take it back up again - maybe if and when we get a faster computer and internet.

I love to write and it's been fun, but I can't give a blog or blogging friends the time that they'd need when I'm not taking care of my family's needs well enough.

So, I'm off.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well-lived make every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow and vision of hope.

Sanskrit Proverb

Friday, August 26, 2011

Godly Heritage

I love to read. And I love to tell others about good books. And I love my family and love to tell others about my family.

Today's post combines those loves. I get to tell others about some books I love that were written by a family member. A much-loved and highly respected family member who just went to be with the Lord.

My father-in-law was 90 years old and was a disciplined godly man who lifted each one of his many descendants up to the Lord in prayer every day. Dad grew up in relative poverty at the tail end of the great logging work that took place in northern Michigan, married a lovely, joyful lady, served in World War II and then raised their five children just across the dirt road from where he'd grown up. The five children all followed the Lord's calling in their lives and raised their children for the Lord. Four of those five children now have married children following in those footsteps of raising godly children. (As the youngest by eight years, we don't yet have any married children yet.)

When his wife's health began to fail, he cared lovingly for her in their retirement home in Florida and then when he was no longer able to do that, he went the the nursing home twice daily to feed her and to take her for a "drive in the country" in her wheelchair on the nature path. We began to understand true sacrificial love as we watched him. He was honored that so many of the descendants were able to make it to her funeral nine years ago.

He was grateful for what God had done in and through his family and wrote two books about that as he was caring for Mom and was able to do a lot of book signing and speaking at historical societies after his first book Tall Trees, Tall People was published. It covered much of the history of the logging industry as seen through the eyes of his granddad and dad. Then he wrote The Price of Pride which was the story of his own life - being raised in the northwoods, going to school in a one-room schoolhouse, helping to start a church, going to the big city for work, meeting his future wife, serving as an airman in World War II (flying over "The Hump"- the Himalayas), working as a skilled welder, serving in his church by teaching and discipling, getting into wood-working, always seeking to glorify his Father in heaven.

He made his mistakes and had sins to confess, and he did confess them and righted the mistakes as much as he could. So we honor his humility as we honor his faithfulness and are so grateful for his influence, teaching and especially for his prayers. We are all convicted to take up the mantle of his work of prayer for each descendant by name.

Here's how my "neice-in-law" put it:

Yes, Grandad was a very special man. His commitment and dedication to work and family were clearly evident. And while those two things were wonderful and tremendous blessings to his family, what made this man so special was his commitment to God. You couldn’t know Rex very long without coming to know of his commitment to God. Those who didn’t even know him that well saw his regular church attendance and his moral life and they knew something was different about Rex Southwell. But church attendance and a moral life isn’t what truly showed his commitment to God. For many people regularly attend church and even are busily working in the church ministries, but they are not committed to God. In fact, I remember visiting Grandad one summer afternoon and discovering that he was quite bothered by hearing a pastor say that one’s love for God is measured by their church attendance and service in the church. I had barely settled on the couch before he vehemently pointed out to me that his love for God had never waned though his physical strength had and therefore he couldn’t serve in the church nor make it to as many services as he once had. I heartily agreed and assured Grandad that I knew of his continued commitment to and love for God and that I, for one, didn’t measure one’s status with God in such a way. I realized that Grandad found it very important that those around him never doubt God’s place of Supremecy and Authority in his life.

No, church attendance and a moral life did not show me Grandad’s commitment to God. It was his regular Bible-reading and prayer. I knew that every single day he was physically able, Grandad had started his day in the Word of God and prayer. He was rarely one to share specifics of what he had found in his time with God, but it oftentimes came up in conversation and I knew he had met with his maker that morning. What a testimony that was to me as a busy mom of young kids who struggled to make my time in God’s word a priority. Yet, while Grandad’s time in God’s Word certainly has impacted his family, I have come to heartily believe that the one thing that has made the Southwell family so special is the simple fact that every single day he was able, Grandad took each of our names into the Presence of God. From his kids down to his great-grandkids, each name is dutifully recorded in Grandad’s Bible and he took the time to pray for each and every one of his descendants by name every day. It gave me great pleasure to ask Grandad the name of a recently-born great-grandchild and to have to wait as he rattled off the names of first his child and spouse, grandchild and spouse, then on down the line of great-grandkids in that family from oldest to youngest. Why did he do that? Because that was the way the names are listed in his Bible and that is the order in which he prayed for them. I laughed when Grandad would be standing in the midst of my own kids and have to start from the oldest name to get down to the name of the one he was meaning to refer to. It never offended us, but rather comforted us for we knew that his list of names was another reminder that he was praying for us.
I know Grandad rarely knew the specific struggles of our daily lives, but just knowing that he had lifted my name and the names of my kids heavenward every day just astonished me. As I look around the Southwell family I see the faces of so many individuals who are dedicated and committed to the same God Rex Southwell served. I see a special family who love one another and love their God even more. I see a heritage left by a very godly man. I see a God who honored countless decades of one man’s commitment to prayer played out in the lives of countless descendants.

I am so very grateful for the many lessons and memories Grandad gave to me. But more than all of that, I am eternally grateful for the eternal difference he made in my family through his prayers for us. May each of us as Southwells pick up the torch where Grandad laid it down and live a life of commitment and dedication to not just our work and our families, but most importantly to our God and daily prayer for our descendants. For I now know that what intrigued and interested me in the Southwell family all those years ago was the heritage of one man committed and dedicated to God and prayer for his family.

We are blessed and I

Sunday, August 21, 2011

God Will Never Give You More….

You've got to read this post from Nancy Wilson. It's a good reminder and may help us to think more accurately and in a more theologically sound way in the future.

God Will Never Give You More….

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

[This] is the way of Christ. Instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves. Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only he can accomplish. Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, and we create, but we do it all while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God. Instead of dependence on ourselves, we express radical desperation for the power of his Spirit, and we trust that Jesus stands ready to give us everything we ask for so that he might make much of our Father in the world.

Think about it. Would you say that your life is marked right now by desperation for the Spirit of God? Would you say that the church you are a part of is characterized by this sense of desperation?

Why would we ever want to settle for Christianity according to our ability or settle for church according to our resources? The power of the one who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, and as a result we have no need to muster up our own might. Our great need is to fall before an almighty Father day and night and to plead for him to show his radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for his glory what we could never imagine in our own strength. And when we do this, we will discover that we were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves, the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of his Spirit.

From Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Skunk Trapping

 Here's what we woke to on Saturday morning.
We've had traps set to catch whatever it was that killed all 48 of our week-old chickens. We had caught and dealt with three racoons and one 'possum so far. The skunks were a whole new experience.

Since we'd never dealt with this before and it was just us girls at home, we called our pastor, who has been a Yukon wilderness fishing guide in a previous life, and asked him what we should do.

He said we should sneak up on them, quietly talking to them like we would cajol our kitties and cover them with an old blanket which would discourage them from spraying. Turns out they really don't like to spray and will mostly avoid doing so. So Sweetie and Precious got brave enough to be the sneaker-uppers and they got them covered safely. (Yes, they were still in their sleepwear.)

They then grabbed the handles of the cages and carried them across the 225 yards (or so) of hayfield to a corner of our swamp, giggling and heart palpitating all the way. We made it safely there and wondered how we were going to retrieve the live traps after we'd tossed them into the swamp. Fortunately, we were right beside Precious's hunting stand tree whereon was tied some nylon clothesline. So Sweetie tied a six foot or so length of that to a bar of the trap, holding her breath all the time since she had to lift a corner of the blanket.

Then she whipped off the blanket and tossed the trap/cage into a deep part of the swamp all in one fluid and very quick motion. I held the end of the rope. We left it in there (not looking at it much so we wouldn't feel too cruel at the drowning) for ten minutes and then I pulled it out. Not a delightful sight, but you do what you have to do.

As Precious picked up the cage to prepare to open it and dump the carcass in the swamp, she thought it started moving, but thought maybe that was just the cage getting bumped. As she looked closer, she was sure she saw it breathing. She dropped the cage excitedly and started to run off, leaving me standing right beside the reviving skunk, shrieking, "Help me! Don't leave me here with it!" since I was kind of stuck in the grasses with the rope end in my hand, not knowing how to open the trap to dump the beast.

Fortunately, Sweetie had presence of mind to come get the cage and dump the skunk into the swamp. She then tossed a small log over it to help keep it down.

The second, smaller skunk was easier to deal with because we were now experts, having studied in the school of hard knocks. We left the trap in the swamp five minutes longer and were confident of its demise.

During all this, Princess had climbed up into the hunting stand/seat in the nearby tree and was shouting the play-by-play to Roo and Peanut who weren't allowed too close. We all marched triumphantly back up to our breakfast amidst much excitement and giggles.

Beware chicken thieves!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hard & Helpful Words

I just read this post from Nancy Wilson, the wife of Douglas Wilson, one of the founders of the college our son attends, and I just have to share it.

Heart-tenderizing Words
Published by Nancy Ann on July 26, 2011 in Mothering. 25 Comments One day when I was feeling particularly like homemaking and child-rearing were exercises in futility, I called my mother-in-law to get a little pep talk. She had married Jim when she was 33 and he was 26, and her first of four children (my husband) was born when she was 34. Before her marriage, she had spent several years on the mission field, and she was a first-rate Bible teacher. So I called her up and told her how I felt that morning: like each day I grabbed my shovel to start moving the pile and by evening it was still there, maybe even higher and bigger.

So I was expecting a nice little word that would cheer me up. I was expecting a little sympathy. But here’s what I got instead. She told me about a missionary who was imprisoned for his faith and hung upside down in a cave. His wife had to bring him food and feed him in that condition. She brought him his books so he could continue to study while he was hanging there. Hmmm. I certainly did not have it that bad, not even on the worst laundry days. You can imagine, that was not what I was expecting to hear. I remember reacting a little bit on the inside. “Oh come on! That’s not relevant to my situation! See if I call you next time I need a little cheering up!”

She also reminded me that I had three in my congregation, three in my little Bible school at home. Now that was a new image for me. I wasn’t just running in circles. I was teaching by word and by example, every day, all day. That was both convicting and exciting for me to think about.

The unspoken message (which out of tenderness, she never would have said) was that I was having a little pity party, and I needed to get back to work with more of a vision of my calling, a renewed sense of the great potency of my calling. And a cheerful attitude. A little more gratitude. After all, my husband was standing on his own two feet. Life was not nearly as hard as I thought it was. It could be much, much harder. I needed to adjust my attitude, not my circumstances.

That was thirty years ago. If she had just patted me on the head, I doubt that I would even remember that conversation today. But I think of it often still. As her husband has said, and we have quoted often before, hard teaching makes soft hearts. Soft teaching makes hard hearts. If she had simply said, “Poor you! What a rotten life you have! You don’t need to do that. Why don’t you farm those little monsters out?” that would be soft teaching. “Take the first escape hatch! Don’t wear yourself out!” Hard teaching is about laying your life down and taking up your cross and following Jesus. Those hard words are heart-tenderizing words.

We often get this wrong. We want soft words, easy words, and not words that step on our toes or mess up our hair. Those words turn us into hard-hearted women. If you don’t believe me, look at the abortion industry. It gives women soft, easy words and creates monsters of them. Soft words can be soul-destroying.

But the hard words are the ones that get us to our knees and give us tender hearts. They remind us that God has promised us far more than we ever believe. Samuel Rutherford said that he hoped to over-hope and over-believe all his troubles. Faith gives us the will to back up and try again, full speed, to clear the hurdle. One more time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where's the Instruction Manual?: Wearing Skirts?

Here's a thought-provoking post I'd like to share.

Where's the Instruction Manual?: Wearing Skirts?

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

From The Winding Ways Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #12)     "'What people won't tell you, because they can't put it into words, is that children will bring you more joy than you every suspected existed in the universe. Even when they're driving you crazy, you'll fall in love with them again and again. I've never laughed so hard or found so much beauty in simple things since becoming a mother. It's an impossible contradiction. They're frustrating and glorious. They throw your life into uproar and they teach you contentment. You'll remember every mistake you make as a parent and yet your children will love you anyway. I'll tell you something: Nothing on this earth can compare to a spontaneous, heartfelt hug from a toddler."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Musing - The Search for Wisdom & a Scripture Memory Challenge

This morning I started a Bible study guide entitled The Beauty of a Disciplined Life: 10 Studies on the Book of Proverbs by Rebecca Gates. I found it at a book sale recently. I'm not sure yet if I'll like it, but this morning's study was very insightful and much-needed. Each chapter focuses on a particular discipline covered in Proverbs, ie. wisdom, martal faithfulness, energy, quietness, speech, etc. and since I'm seeing a particular need of growing in wisdom lately, I thought this would be a help.

Today's study concentrated on chapters 1-4 of Proverbs, looking at the value of wisdom and how it is gotten. It was good to see the many synonyms or parallels to the word "wisdom," such as understanding, justice, judgment, equity, prudence, knowledge, discretion, discernment and righteousness. Wisdom is to be pursued, received, treasured, inclined to, applied, cried out for, and sought diligently. How many of us can say that we seek wisdom as we ought and as Proverbs tells us to? Hmmm.

Some of the benefits of attaining wisdom are:
*long, peaceful life
*respected by God and man
*clear direction
*strength and health
*having plenty
*safety, confidence and security
*confidence in God and His ability to keep us from falling

Wisdom also helps us avoid pain such as:
*the opposites of all the benefits
*being cut off from the earth
*being cursed by God
*being scorned

So, how is wisdom attained? According to Psalm 119:97-112, it's by learning, meditating on and keeping God's words. I shamefully admit that that has not been a very high priority lately. We've been kinda hit and miss in our family worship time and my own delighting in the law of God has also been hit and miss. So, today that changes. I hope to begin memorizing Scripture more consistently with the girls and would like to challenge you to join us.

This week I want to start with Psalm 103:1-5 because, although there are many wonderful Scriptures to learn to help us walk the walk, I want to start by focusing on who God is and how to praise Him and talk of His wondrous works. Want to join us?

Because He is so patient, I

Friday, July 15, 2011

What We're Reading

Just in case anyone is in need of some light and fun summer reading, I'm here to tell you about Once Upon a Marigold and its sequel Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris. One of the things we liked most about the first book was one of the main characters, Ed, who says such crazy things as "You've buttered your bread, now you must lie in it." The story is fun, too, being a non-typical, yet somewhat predictable princess love story.

We've only just begun the second book, but it already has its share of laughs and interesting predicaments. We're all enjoying it in between trips to the summer art classes, swimming in the river, having church fellowship gatherings, finishing a belated graduation quilt, perusing the library shelves, gardening and thrilling to summer lightening storms. Give them a try!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Return of the Blogger

Hello! With the onslaught of summer, we've been active in a lot of other things that don't fit so well into our attempts at a scheduled life during the school year, so I've not had much time at the computer. The vegetable gardening is going well - now taken over by the girls. The plan is for me to buy my veggies from them at reduced cost for me, but still giving them an opportunity to learn the lesson of working as the way to earn money. And I am relieved of the weight of the gardening. Or, more truthfully, I am free to put more time into the flower and herb gardens - more to my liking.

My dear husband and I celebrated our 29th anniversary early this week by roaming around the Leelanau and Old Mission Penninsulas of northern Michigan and staying the night in a wonderful Bed and Breakfast called Old Mission Inn. The owners, Bruce and Angela, were delightful hosts, sharing freely of the history of the inn which was over 140 years old.  (I had hoped to insert a photo here, but I'm having terrible troubles getting the photos to load, so I'm going to just post without any this time.)

The rooms were beautiful and one of the common bathrooms had a clawfoot bathtub, which I love but had never gotten to use before. It would be great for a tub, but I can live without one as a shower since the shower curtain kind of sticks to your legs and feet in the narrow tub.

The long front porch was wonderful to sit on while we waited for breakfast hour, which was cooked from a menu of our choosing, instead of just having to have what was already made. The porch overlooked a great view of the east arm of Traverse Bay.

Just up the road we ran into some friends from former days of living in that area. The wife had been our midwife for two of our homebirths. They now live in a redone big one-room schoolhouse. It was good to see them again.

I'll try to fill you in on more of what's been going on, but that's enough for now.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Another repurposed denim skirt

Things have been hopping around here for a few weeks, as you could probably tell by my lack of posting. It's been fun, busy time with a three day visit from my sister's family and my mom. My sister is such a fun person to be with and is a barrel of laughs. The cousins all had a good time together, getting to know each other again and our city nephews enjoyed being out in the country. One night they slept in the back yard in a tent. Since they had never done that before, we warned them that the coyotes might howl and that they should not be worried about that since the coyotes stay far away from our yard area. Well, close to midnight we discover that the 7yo was lying there wide awake, not because of fear of coyotes, but because of disapointment that he hadn't heard any howling. Funny kid!

Another fun, busy thing that's been happening is that our son is home from college finally! He's been able to hang around awhile and just visit because the job that he'd supposed he'd have for the summer in Pennsylvania didn't pan out. So my husband and bro-in-law are both calling around to find him another job in the oilfields. Hopefully he'll still be in PA so he can be close enough to come home now and then on his days off.

But finally last evening I made it into The Quiltery and was able to finish up this cute skirt for Precious. She had started it some weeks ago and then all the other activities took over (and I think she prefers kitchen work to sewing work, which is ok with me because I'm just the other way around).

I'm also, as I often do at the end of a school year, reevaluating what we have or haven't done this year and am looking into what we should be doing over the summer and then planning for the next school year. Much prayer needed for wisdom.

Hope all's well with you all,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Organizing!

We have been extra occupied around here. Bookwork kind of studies has been shoved to the background and we've been working on "home economics". It's spring cleaning time!

Some people start their spring cleaning a lot earlier than we do, but I wait till the weather is warm enough that we can open up the house, especially if we have painting and carpet shampooing to do. Here in Michigan, that can come rather late.

I made up a list of things that need deep cleaning or things that only need cleaning once or twice a year and then divided that out into a week's worth of days and subdivided it by who would do each job. I love using the charts and forms on my computer for this preparation. So one of the older girls gets to wash all the windows outside, climbing ladder and all, whereas a younger girl can do the insides of the windows. An older girl helps with painting or touching up scratched up paint (I'm sure that never happens at anybody else's home).

So this year, the bigger bathroom was in great need of repainting and the rock floor and wall around our woodstove needed watersealing to make the color come out again and make it shinier. Those jobs are now done, too, but we might add another coat of the waterseal because it just got so absorbed even with three coats.

As part of the whole job, I've been decluttering, organizing and trying to set the house up so the work flows more easily (ergonomically). I really like how the laundry area looks now. Sweetie and I put up the shelf (it really wasn't a hard job) and the hanging rod is just a shower curtain rod. The drawers are for our folded laundry till we take it all up to closets. This set-up enables us to do the folding right on the washer and dryer instead of carting it to the dining room table and then being in the way of some people who are already getting at their studies.

Something else I've been doing with this year's spring cleaning is cleaning up the UFOs (UnFinished Objects), or WIPs (Works in Progress), that I've had gathering in the scarily messy quiltery. The mending mountain is now down to a little hill and that feels good. Precious helped me make some cute play/everyday outfits for the younger girls. We made three sets, but only caught two for the picture. We have more in the works as well as some skirts for the older girls that I'll show you as soon as we get them done. As I've shown in previous posts, I finished the church wallhangings and they are actually hanging in the church basement as of Sunday. We're also getting ready for a family reunion next week. My sister and her family whom we haven't seen in several years since they live overseas will be here, too.

And my wonderful son will be home from college for a little while before he's off to work in the oilfields again for the summer. Fortunately it looks like he'll be working on the same rig that Dear Hubby is on.

Today is piano lesson rescheduled and then tonight is the recital. Many nervous young ladies here. :)

As always, I

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Signature Quilts

This past weekend was a productive one for me as far as sewing goes. Saturday was a fasting day, so I didn't have to cook; Sunday after congregational worship and delicious dinner the girls played games with their dad which I opted out of since I'm not much of a game player (I heckle from nearby instead); and Monday we celebrated my and Roo's birthday (we share a birthday) a few days early so I kinda got the day off.

So I made fun use of the extra free time.

A couple of years ago, our pastor asked if we ladies would make wall-hangings of blocks with the church members' names on them. These were to be made annually. Well, being the main quilting person in the church, I was happy to head that up. We actually hand-quilted the first one, but soon it became evident that nobody else was too interested in the making of the wall-hangings, so I'm just doing myself, though I may ask people to participate in tying them (don't want to take as long as the quilted one did). I had in the back of my mind doing some back-tracking and making the two that would represent the two years of our history that were previous to when Pastor suggested the wall-hanging idea. We're just a baby church, agewise and sizewise.

So this weekend, I did the back-tracking. I had also completed the top for 2010 just a week or so ago. The blocks are signed by families, each person being represented. And we believe that God blesses us by giving us children and that He should have control of the womb, so the signature blocks have to be big enough for all the names of those many blessings.

Now to get them tied and bound. Or I might just use the sandwich and turn inside-out method.
But today is music lessons day, so we're off to that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Resurrection Advent

Last year I posted a little bit about our Easter advent activities, but I'd like to go into a little more detail this year, maybe to inspire you to do likewise or to share some of your ideas.

Twelve days before Easter, we get out our plastic colored eggs and begin to open them. In each one is a little symbol, something that goes with the Scripture we'll be reading, and a slip of paper with a Scripture reference on it. The readings pretty much follow the events of the last week before the crucifixion. I'll list what we have in each egg.

In the first egg (numbered 1 with Sharpie pen) is a tiny bottle to remind us of the bottle of spikenard that was poured out on Jesus' feet and head. The Scripture reference is John 12:1-11.

Egg #2 = paper palm leaf. Bible reading = John 12:12-19
Egg #3 = some grain (I only had rice, so it'll have to do till I can find something else). Bible = John 12:20-30
Egg #4 = needle-felted sheep with toothpick legs. Bible = Exodus 12:3-14 and John 12:31-36.
Egg #5 = small piece of towel. Bible = John 13:1-17
Egg #6 = pieces of dried tortilla (bread). Bible = Luke 22:7-20
Egg #7 = three shiny silver dimes. Bible = Luke 22:3-6 and John 18:1-14
Egg #8 = a paper picture of a rooster (Princess just told me she'll look for a chicken feather or needlefelt a rooster for this). Bible = John 18:15-27
Egg #9 = a crown of thorns, made by a friend who twisted some tiny branches into a ring, and a piece of purple fabric. Bible = John 18:28-19:5
Egg #10 = a cross made by gluing matchsticks across each other. Bible = John 19:6-37
Egg #11 = a little stone. Bible = Matt. 27:57-66
Egg #12 = EMPTY! Bible = Matt. 28:1-8 and John 20:1-31

Along with these readings, we have a wallhanging quilt that we made probably ten years ago by having the four oldest children draw pictures on fabric that depict the Bible readings.

(I have no idea why these are on their sides - they're not that way in my file. Sigh.)

Other ways that we celebrate the resurrection and our salvation through it include fasting on Saturday as a church body and then on Sunday morning, our elders prepare a pancake and egg breakfast supplemented with cinnamon rolls, breads, milk, orange juice, etc. by the rest of us. After worship service we often have my aunt over for dinner or maybe others from church. We don't particularly have traditional Easter foods, just whatever we want to make to celebrate.

We have several favorite books to read during this time also. They include: The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier, The Easter Story by Carol Heyer and Peter's First Easter by Walter Wangerin Jr., and The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs.

I hope your celebrations are delightful and God-honoring and I

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Blocks Finished

As part of our spring cleaning (at least I'm trying to justify it as such), I've been going though fabric scraps - detangling them, ironing them and cutting them into usable pieces. Kinda tedious, but it's greatly improved by listening to Pastor Doug Wilson, et. al., preaching from Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. We're also watched a few movies, but then my ironing helpers lose interest in the ironing and want to watch the movie. So we haven't made great amounts of progress yet, but I have been able to thin out the unwanted and I did get all the blocks cut for Sweetie's plaid/shirting quilt. And I got two of them sewn up, so I'm off to report in at April Finishing Stitches. Woohooo!
Oops. I'm sideways again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Big Finish!

I'm soooooo happy to have a very big finish to report for April's Finishing Stitches.

Yes! The music teacher's barter quilt is done!

Unfortunately, as we were water spraying the quilt stencil lines out we discovered that one of the red fabrics had run a little into the white fabric, even though I wash all the fabric I bring into the house. So we're trying bleach stick and it's making some difference. Any ideas would be appreciated. The run is not too bad, but enough that I'm not happy. I am still quite happy with the rest of the quilt and that it is finally done.

Now I'm off to sort and cut scraps to make some kind of order out of chaos. I like how Bonnie Hunter organizes hers, so will be working toward that.

And I get to make some pretty spring playclothes for my girls. I'll show you those when they're done.

Till later, I

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bartering to Learn

What a blessing we had Saturday! Our three oldest girls got to learn how to bake bread from a lady who helps her husband in their brick oven bakery. She taught them how to make a starter, keep it alive and what to do with it from there. They got a whole day-long lesson in the science of it all as well as the art of making the perfect loaf of sturdy and wonderfully tasty whole wheat bread. She gave them a basic recipe and took them through all the steps and told them to make it just as written for about twelve times before they try things like adding cheese or herbs or anything like that though they can sprinkle seeds or herbs on top if they like. She wants them to get real comfortable with how the dough acts and what they should expect. She did teach them how to bake in our own oven though they did have the fun of getting to bake in her big brick oven.

They had such a good time and thanked me for setting that up for them though actually they will be doing the bartering business themselves since they're trading the baking lesson for babysitting her two young children while she works in their bakery.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letting the Little Ones Help

Being a naturally impatient person, I don't always let my younger children "help" as much as I should, but when I do, I find that I grow in patience, which is what I should always be seeking to do. So that is one of the many benefits of including the young ones in the work.

Some of the other benefits include:
*developing a closer relationship,
*learning to laugh together even about things that might want to frustrate you,
*teaching the child a new skill,
*getting to praise your child for following instructions,
*being forced to actually wash the kitchen floor since you've made such a mess on it that you can't ignore that job any more,
*the child discovers a new interest to pursue more fully now or when she's older and a chance to learn a different way of doing or thinking which your child may bring out.

I love the way that Rachel Jankovic describes this in her new book, Loving the Little Years. I so enjoyed this book even though most of my children are past the "little" years. The book is so full of humor, wisdom beyond Mrs. Jankovic's years and creativity that I plan to buy a copy for each of my children. It is a quick read and the chapters are short, but so full that one chapter leaves plenty for meditation. A nice length for those who are in the trenches and unable to sit down for a long read. Well worth the money.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I can't help it. This virus name cracks me up!

Two of my darling children have had a minor virus lately called Fifth Disease (it's one of the five common childhood diseases) or "Slapface". It's not at all serious, in fact, I'm sure some of my other children had it without us really noticing. It's a human parvovirus (not at all related to the dog and cat kind of parvo) and it passes in 7 - 10 days. The nickname "Slapface" comes from the bright red cheeks which last about a day, but look like you've been slapped on the cheeks.

Then follows an interesting looking rash. The rash is not usually itchy or bumpy, just kind of lacy looking. It shows up best when the child is warm, like when they first crawl out from under their covers in the morning. Mostly the rash is on the arms and legs, but some of our little friends have had rashes on the trunk part of their bodies. My older daughter also had some achiness in her joints. It also starts out with general cold symptoms which pass quickly.

So, all in all, it's just kind of a funny sickness.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

Today's words of wisdom come from one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot.

The ordering of a peaceful home is not possible without the application of eternal principles. It is, after all, mostly little, common things that make up our lives. This is the raw material for the spiritual life. If we despise small things, regard normal household duties as burdens, routines as boring, rules too confining, we will never learn, nor can we teach our children, to live a life of holy harmony. This takes faithfulness in the troublesome details first of all, learning to do them well that we may make of them an offering to the Lord, for it is His work, after all, given to us. It is our daily bread for which we should learn to be thankful. Such faithfulness is the groundwork for all God may ever ask us to do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Poison of the Sidelong Glances - Monday Musing (a day late)

Often on Mondays I'm still musing over our pastor's sermon, and his sermon on the transfiguration and it's gloriousness and the way it was eclipsed by the glory of the resurrection is still in my mind, but I want to share thoughts from another sermon today.

Since our son is now member of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, I took advantage their offer to recive on CD their sermons. Not only do they help keep us connected spiritually to The Guinea Pig, but they are an excellent way for us to grow through using them in our family worship especially when my Huggy is gone.

Just a couple of days ago we listened to a sermon by Ben Merkle (author of The White Horse King, about Alfred the Great) entitled "The Poison of the Sidelong Glances". Ooh, was it convicting! The text was Matthew 20:1-16 about workers being hired to work in a vineyard, some hired for a denarius at daybreak, others being hired for "whatever is right" later throughout the day. Though those who had worked all day were paid what they'd agreed on, they began to complain as they cast a sidelong glance and saw how the others were getting as much as they though the latter crews had worked less.  But the owner of the vineyard pointed out to them that the first bunch were getting what they had contracted for.

"If we look at the horizontal/subjective standard, they appear to have been wronged. But according to the vertical/objective standard, they were done no wrong. This is a sidelong glance. It is the preferring to evaluate your own circumstances relatively rather than objectively. Not only that, it is preferring the most negative relative evaluation out of all the possible comparisons. It can become such an all consuming vice that we begin to evaluate our own lot based entirely on how much we are currently inspriring this kind of jealousy in others. We look to the side just to see if others are looking sideways at us."

Mr. Merkle then went on to point out that mostly these thoughts are petty little thoughts, but they add up and become a great poison. "And all the reasons are so petty that we can't point to any one thing (because it would be so stupid) so that we just point to the whole person and say I can't stand him." Of course, this is sin and leads to broken relationships within the body of Christ and within our homes.

To combat the sidelong glance of jealousy, he suggests the following things:
1) An upward gaze - "An infinite God does not have a divided attention when he regards you. Your story is your story, lived out before God."
2) Remember that we are not in the resurrection yet. "Your current circumstances are not your final inheritance. These circumstances are merely your assignment...The circumstances are not the comparison. It's waht you do with your circumstances that matters."
3) Grace is grace. "Sideways glances depend on us getting convinced that we are owed something." God owes us nothing and yet He gives us so much.
4) Confess the petty. Be brutally honest with yourself regularly. "What are you fussing about? What is eating you? Who can you not stand to hear from? Nothing is too petty to be addressed. Confess it. Get rid of it. Don't let the cancer grow."

Of course, he fleshed this all out so well and gave probing examples and word pictures. It made me think about the things that annoy me about other people just might have their roots in jealousy. That snappy retort from junior high days, "You're just jealous" might have a ring of truth in it. More to the point, admitting that "I'm just jealous" and need to confess my sin, would cause an awful lot of growth in me and in my relationship with that person.

This was such a good thought provoking, get-to-the-heart-of-the-matter sermon, that I know we're going to listen to it quite a few more times and I highly recommend that you look up http://www.canonpress.com/ and see how you can request the sermon from February 27, 2011 sermon number 1606.

This one sin, left to grow, has brought down many a church and family. If dealt with humbly and truthfully, I see great growth for the cause of Christ in our hearts and nations.

A sinner, saved by grace, I

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Finishing Stitiches - 2 blocks

Though my picture is sideways, I'll show it anyhow. The left two blocks are the two I finished this week for a plaid sampler quilt I'm making for Sweetie. She made the right two blocks when we were thinking that she'd make the quilt herself. She's discovered that she's content to learn how to mend and that other sewing machine adventures are fine left to others. She has enough of a basis in sewing and is comfortable enough with the machine that I'm fine with her not pursuing it much. If someday she decides that she'd like to learn more and do more sewing, she's got enough of a foundation that she will be able to do that on her own. \

Now I'm off to report my finishes on Joy's Finishing Stitches here http://www.joysquilts.blogspot.com/.

Hoping your day is beautful, I

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lapbooking Fun

We've recently discovered the fun and benefit of lapbooking. I'm impressed by how much 6yo Peanut Pixie-face remembers of our studies of Ancient Egypt, mostly because of her lapbooking and enjoying rereading her lapbook and showing Daddy and Aunt Barb her lapbook and anybody else who would sit still long enough. Unfortunately, we didn't really do lapbooks or notebooks when we studies Ancient Rome, so she doesn't remember as much. Oh, well, the plan is to repeat those studies at a deeper level in about four years, so we'll do it then.

We also learned much about insects while doing lapbooks on an alphabetical listing of insects to study. We used this study as a review of the alphabet as well as our science studies. The forms as well as lessons plans for this study came from http://www.lapbooklessons.com/ . I just hope they get the whole series finished soon. Of course, I could go on on my own, but it just hasn't happened yet.

So yesterday I spent a lot of time (slow computer) printing up form and plans for lapbooking our current studies of the Middle Ages. I think we'll have fun using them. I got a unit study from http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ on Robin Hood as well as ones on knights and vikings. They have little lapbooking booklets to print off and easily fill out and put in your lapbook (or notebook for the older kids).

I've found that printing on cardstock, both white and colored, adds some sturdiness to the booklets so they don't get crumpled as little hands enjoy their books over and over. Also a friend gave us a helpful book called The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook which we use for reference and booklet ideas. I am reminded now that I need to make more use of it!

I encourage you to give this a try; maybe start with a lapbook on one of the aforementioned websites. I think you find it fun and very beneficial for retention and review.

Motivated to do better, I

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm happy to have three finishes to report as well as a start. I've told myself that I have to finish at least two things before I will allow myself to start something new, so I'm obeying my rules well. In fact, I might be kissing up to myself by finishing one more than required.

Well, on to the show:

This is the "compendium quilt" that I made for my aunt for Christmas. My darling husband gave me a gift certificate to rent the long-arm quilting machine at the local quilt shop and I had a blast playing on it and quilting this with a free-form style of rows of bows. I finally got the binding on - also playing with doing it all with machine, something I'm only just starting to learn.

I also finished the binding on this Christmas lap quilt. I had machine quilted it on my own machine since there was no batting to make it fat and unwieldy.

This materials for this skirt have been sitting in my quiltery for a few months, waiting its turn. Well, this weekend became its turn, so I cut off the bottom of the denim and added the plaid ruffles for my plaid-loving daughter. One of the ruffles had been a plain tablerunner; one was from pillowshams I'd picked up at the thrift store; one I don't know where I got; the last, skinny one was from a shirt, either my husband's or my son's. Sweetie loves it and wore it to church this morning.

The "start" is going to be a wallhanging for our entry room which will serve the dual purpose of decorating that plain wall as well as teaching the seasons and months to my younger daughters. I plan to make a wallhanging of the season blocks, which are colored with Crayola crayons & then ironed for permanancy, and then sew buttons all along the outer borders. Onto the bottom buttons I will hang a different month block each month, having made them using a variety of techniques that I want to try but don't want to make a big project of yet. Sound fun? It does to me, even if I am getting a late start on the monthly blocks. I do have January and February blocks prepared for bluework and redwork embroidery. Not sure yet what I'll do for March, but I'm considering hand-applique which I've never tried. Maybe Sunbonnet Sue? We'll see what inspiration strikes.

Well, I hope you're doing something creative!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

These words of wisdom come from Kate B. Wilkinson can be found in many old hymnbooks. If our family has a "theme song," I think it would be this one.

May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day
By his love and pow'r controlling all I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph only thoruhg his pow'r.

May the peace of God my Father, rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea:
Him exalting self abasing; this is victory.

May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

May his beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win,
And my they forget the channel, seeing only Him.

Seeking to serve, I

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Blessing of A Grand-person

Since my mom lives so far away, Dad is with the Lord as is my dear mother-in-love and my father-in-love is also far away, our family is so thankful that my aunt lives nearby and fills the role of grand-person. She was a missionary schoolteacher to the Navajo people and when she retired, we asked that she come live near us so we could "take care of her in her old age." Well, she's done so much to bless us that we feel more like she's taking care of us. Every Monday evening for the past 12+ years she's come over for dinner, bringing one of her world-class pies (I blame my weight on her!) and we've had delightful visits with her. On Thursday afternoons we go to her apartment and have a snack time and pop in and out from music lessons so children don't have to stay at the music studio for too many hours waiting for siblings. Aunt Barb will turn 80 this fall, but she's still very active, especially in her church, helping in various, often unseen ways that are a good example for us. We thank God for the relative good health she has and ask that He will be preparing us for the time when her health is not so good and we need to step into a greater degree of servanthood for her. We know He has taught us much through Aunt Barb and will continue to use her in our spiritual growth, hopefully for many more years. :)

Yesterday she came, bringing Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, during the day, because foul weather was expected for the evening. She very patiently spent probably an hour working with the Peanut Pixie-face on her reading and numbers. It was both inspiring and funny to listen to them working together. Aunt Barb was so patient when Peanut was not exactly keeping her mind on things, but at one point I had to laugh as Aunt Barb commented, "I remember now why I retired."

I have to show you this lovely doll quilt she made for the Peanut for Christmas. So cute!

Because Aunt Barb was doing my work and the other girls were doing their independent studies, I was able to machine quilt some more on this quickie summer quilt I pieced for the Princess. She just turned 13 and loves Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies and has learned a lot about wildflowers from her book, The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies. For the quilt, I had purchased some remnants of the Flower Fairy fabric. So I just made some colorful borders around the fairy blocks, added a wide border that looks like a fairy garden around the outside and am quilting it onto a blue gingham flannel with no batting. It's rather simple and quick, which is what we needed right now.
 I still have some meander quilting to do in the flower border and then the binding, but that shouldn't take too long.

Once again, I am much blessed, so I

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oh, my! What's this in my freezer?

You've got to see what's in my freezer, waiting for our church hymn sing this Sunday evening!

Precious got a new cupcake cookbook for her birthday so she was happy to have an excuse to play with it. She spent most the afternoon playing. :) The book is a beautiful book entitled Hello, Cupcake and it's full of fun and beautiful cupcake recipes as well as ways to decorate them. It has ideas for faces, little people sleeping under quilts, a variety of dog breeds, horses and butterflies among other things. It also has several ideas of arrangements of decorated cupcakes so as to present a whole picture of something bigger, like cupcakes arranged to look like an alligator, penguins on a snowy iceberg, spaghetti and meatballs and a TV dinner. If you want to pretend that you're eating healthily, make the Garden Party group of cupcakes which are topped with frosting vegetables. Sunflower cupcakes would help us pretend we're having summer weather or we could face reality and make the snowmen cupcakes. Turkey cupcakes could be a different dessert for Thanksgiving and bowling pins could be served after a fun outing to the bowling alley.

I predict we will be enjoying cupcakes at many a treat-time. Especially since we also got another cupcake cookbook for Princess, but I'll tell you about that one next Friday. I hope you look into this book and enjoy some of the fun with us.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Finish! - Quilted Tote Bag

Besides a cute little teabag wallet I made for a friend's birthday, I have my first finish for 2011! At least it's a finish of something that was already started in 2010. I'll have a few more finishes in a few days, but they were started in 2011. Confused? Well, let me just get to showing you the tote bag.

It's my mom's belated birthday gift. I'm also planning to tuck into it one of the cute teabag wallets, but I have to make it first. :) I'll show that to you when I'm done.

This tote was made from a Cross and Crown block and an Ohio Star block that I had pieced and handquilted last year as part of a BOM I set up for our church ladies. Well, it turns out that I was the only one really interested in doing the BOM (no, a couple of the girls are collecting the patterns to do later), so I decided to use the blocks for other things and came up with this bag for mom. I hope she finds it useful as well as pretty.

I hope your day is full of good accomplishments. I'm off to link up to Finishing Stitches.