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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Blessing of Little Girls and Christmas Tea

One of the important spiritual lessons we want our young ladies to learn is that of being hospitable and of serving others. So, besides having them help when we have families over for dinner, we also like to provide opportunities for them to learn to be the hostess - to participate more in the preparations as well as in the actually serving the goodies.

Enter Tea Parties.

And Christmas Teas are a lot of fun, though why we do extra at such an already busy time of the year sometimes escapes me. Probably because it's such a beautiful and festive time that I can't resist.

The idea for this centerpiece came from a similar thing my mom did years ago. The girls love it and think that both I and my mom are brilliant. (Oh, yeah!) The little teapot on top is an ornament I'd gotten at Miss Molly's Tea Room.

Crescent roll Christmas tree with cream cheese, maple syrup, cinnamon topping and fruit decorations.

Ice cream cone tea cup with gummy ring handle, sugar cookie saucer, and filled with butterscotch pudding  "tea" and marshmallow "sugar cube."

Pinterest was a big help for ideas and planning.

One of the activities was to play Christmas bingo. But the first activity was to decorate sugar cookies. Oh, what messy fun!

Big sister helps spread frosting.


Anybody for an alien snowman with three eyes?


Hope you're finding simple, yet fun ways to glory in the blessings bestowed on us through Christ's coming!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Fun

If you haven't seen Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree advent devotionals at A Holy Experience, do not pass Go; do not collect $200; click on it, subscribe and enjoy the beauty of her words, the beauty of the artwork on the ornaments and the beauty of God's inexpressible gift of love shown down through the ages to His people.

Now this Jesse Tree where our hearts climb high in this season of waiting, it's named after the Jesse who was the father of David, the first royal branch in the tree of the Messiah to come, David to whom God promised that his line and his sons and his family would be King forever. And when his sons and grandsons and great grandsons turned from God and loved sin more than their Father and their kingdoms fell, and it seemed as though the whole royal family tree of Jesse had been chopped right off at the roots, our covenant, promise-keeping God, He vowed, "Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot - yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root..." 
She has daily devotionals that draw our attention to how God made and fulfilled His promises/covenants to His people, starting at Creation, going through the Fall, through Noah's family and Abraham's and on. She also includes beautifully drawn artwork by Nancy W. Rodden to make into ornaments to put on your Jesse tree daily.

Since I like to play with fabric and I wanted something even more sturdy than laminated card stock, I copied the drawings onto Sew-on Transfers which I bought at Walmart and then made mini-quilt ornaments of them with rick-rack for hanging.

The super rustic Jesse Tree is a branch standing in a hollow piece of firewood. Maybe we'll get more extravagant sometime, but this works for now. 

We're also still doing the advent activities and readings that we've always done, which can be found starting here: http://homepiecing.blogspot.com/2010/12/advent-activities-days-1-2.html. We're also planning some Christmas Teas for various young ladies. So it's a fun, busy time.!

Hope your activities and celebratings cause you to fall even more in love with the Giver of all good things.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings - Miss Molly's Tea Room

This Thanksgiving has been quite different from previous ones in that my husband has been out of town, on the oil rig, and our son wasn't here either, though we're getting used to him being gone. We had celebrated our whole family Thanksgiving closer to Canadian Thanksgiving time when he and his fiance were here, so we don't feel too deprived of family time.

So the girls and I took off for an adventure to visit my mom. She delighted us by following my sister's suggestion and taking us to Miss Molly's Tea Room in Medina, Ohio.

We each got our own little pot of tea, chosen from quite a variety of teas except that the Princess got a large cup of chai, Roo got iced tea, and Pixie Face got a pot of chocolate milk.

The decor was amazing. We strolled around as we waited for our lovely lunch to be served and enjoyed the beauty and later bought some Christmas gifts in the gift shop.

The highlight of the lunch for the Pixie was getting to decorate her own sugar cookie with some candies.

I really enjoyed a special time with my mom and with my girls. I'm sure we'll remember this time for a long time. And I'm inspired to make a gorgeous wreath like this.

And I wonder if we could set up a tea room like this. 

Well, at least we're having fun setting our table a little more elegantly and drinking more tea in our lovely cups.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back to Herbs

We've been having fun around here "embracing our inner hippie."( Don't worry, we're not getting too radical or going against any of our other life values.) We're just renewing our interest in herbs and natural living. About 20 years ago I was very interested in and learning much about herbs, but slowly our herb growing and using faded out. Now we're bringing it back and enjoying it mightily.

So, to learn some new things and to have a place to start, I ordered the Herbal Medicine Making Kit from www.learningherbs.com. They send the herbs and containers to make all of these:

  • Echinacea tincture
  • Healing herbal salve 
  • Nourishing herbal infusion (nettle)
  • Elderberry syrup   

This morning Peanut and I made the Echinacea tincture. We watched the instructions on the DVD which were almost too simple, but nice for absolute beginners. Then Peanut followed the simple instructions and...


We have Echinacea tincture!

It has to sit for six weeks with a happy little girl getting to shake it daily. At that time we'll strain it and pour it into the pretty blue glass bottles. Then we'll use it for a flu and/or cold remedy, taking a dropperful every hour or two at the onset of a cold.

Meanwhile I hope we have time to made the salve this afternoon. That's what I've been really looking forward to doing ever since a friend made some herbal salve and shared it around.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the herbs God has given us, if only to have a cup of peppermint tea.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Some Quilt Finishes

I'm finally getting around the posting some pictures of some quilts I've finished up.

This baby quilt refuses to upload any other way than on it's side. But at least you can see the pattern and the fun, bright colors.

I had been working on these blocks for awhile and then a friend let us know that she's expecting her twelfth baby, so now I have someone to give this to. Mighty nice of her.

This queen sized quilt has actually been in the works and out of the works for about seven years, so I'm very happy that I finally finished it and it now graces our bed. It is from an Eleanor Burns book. The pattern was actually for a wall-hanging, but I wanted a bed quilt, so I changed things a little.

My Princess and Bob the Cat (Bobcat) enjoy it, too.

Since I had a few leftover blocks after a little redesigning, I made a wall-hanging, too, the edge of which you can see at the top of the photo. I might make some pillow shams with the last two blocks, but that's not even on the list right now. Christmas gifts need to come first.

I hope you've gotten to finish a few things.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Outdoor Hour Challenge - Maple Tree

Normally (if there is any normalcy around here) we do our nature studies on Saturdays to best make use of the most recent Outdoor Hour Challenge which is posted on Fridays.

But this afternoon was so lovely and we were a little behind in our Challenges anyhow, so we picked up our nature journals and headed for the yard. 

The focus for this month is on trees and we are blessed to be surrounded by them and get to enjoy them a lot.

We decided to start our observations with maple trees as they are our favorites, especially at this time of the year, and we have quite a few near the house. And we had real maple syrup for breakfast.

Leaf rubbings are always a good way to observe the leaves of a tree, so we grabbed a few of them and went at it, removing the caterpillar first.

Some of us enjoy writing more than others, so some got a little more verbose, while some wrote almost nothing. I'm hoping to encourage a little more writing slowly but surely.

I'm also hoping to add in doing some notebooking pages in a separate notebook/binder since Barb at the Outdoor Hour Challenge has some very nice pages available. We're really just beginners at this whole nature journalling thing, but I think we all enjoy it pretty well.

It's such a great time of getting us outside and enjoying God's wonderful creation. As I copied into my journal:

There's not a plant or flow'r below but makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Thy throne,
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care,
And ev'rywhere that man can be, Thou, God, art present there.
                                            by Isaac Watts

Measuring the girth of the big front yard maple.

Enjoy God's beauty!


Scrappy Stars

Since we took last week off of home schooling to visit with our son and his girlfriend (now fiance), I squeezed in a few minutes of sewing and got caught up on the Scrappy Stars quilt-along at terrytreasures.blogspot.com.

September's stars
In September I hadn't had time to do two blocks (sad, huh?), so I got September's stars done and then did both of October's.

October's stars

And now I get the fun of making a wedding quilt!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big News

Last week while our son and his girlfriend were here on fall break, they got engaged. So we are looking forward to a spring wedding with great excitement.

And I begin the journey of learning to be a good mother and mother-in-law to grown and gone kids. 

Life is forever changing and our roles and responsibilities are, too. Thankfully, our God is ever the same and helps us along.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lotsa Forgiveness = Lotsa Love

"But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 
Luke 7:47b

One of the ways God helps us to learn to love Him is through showing us our immense amount of sinfulness so that we come to Him in dire need of forgiveness, which He offers freely. Then because we've been forgiven much, we fall in love with Him even more.

And the chief of these sins, I believe, is pride. Sometimes we think that we don't have much to confess, so we don't confess much. We are forgiven little, and we love little.

I can remember as a young teen thinking such thoughts. Just before communion in our little church we would have a time of "contemplation and confession" during which we silently reflected on His great love for us and our lack of deserving that love.

At that time in history, the whole "saved from a life of drugs, illicit sex, knives and switchblades" stories were popular. And I had grown up as a good, Christian girl who had no story like that, so I figured that I really had very little sin to confess during confession time. Silly girl. 

That thought in itself needed to be confessed. Because it was pride. It stank of Phariseeism. It forgot, or ignored, the myriads of attitude sins and the immense selfishness. It ignored the disrespect of parents and backtalk, the snottiness to little sister and brother, etc., etc. making me nauseated now.

Fortunately, God loved me and wanted me to grow in my love for Him, so He has given me many opportunities to see my sinfulness, my need for a Savior who takes my sinfulness on Himself and who forgives me. So I love Him more.

But the key is to be humble and ask for forgiveness. There have been the many times that I have ignored His promptings to draw closer in humility and instead I grow hard and embittered rather than falling more in love with Him because I've confessed sin and received forgiveness.

So I'm thankful that, as Larnelle Harris sang, He's the "God of the Second Chance."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Early Thanksgiving

We're extra blessed this year in that we get to celebrate Thanksgiving Day twice.

Actually we have somewhat of a Thanksgiving dinner every Saturday evening as we being our "Sabbath." We have been going around the table giving thanks for certain blessings throughout the previous week.

But since we have our son and his girlfriend home for their college's fall break, and she's Canadian, and Canada's Thanksgiving Day is this next week, we have a great excuse to celebrate early and then celebrate again in November.

So out came the new, soon-to-be-heirloom needle felted pilgrim couple with baby to grace the center of our dinner table. My young, gifted artist friend, Olivia, made this and I am so excited about it.

And up went the Thanksgiving tree.
And we have begun to count our many blessings by writing them on paper pumpkins, apples, clouds, and leaves and pinning them to this simple tree quilt. After our feast, we'll enjoy hearing my husband read them all.

Helping us to count those blessing are our special "1000 Gift" notebooks wherein we've been keeping lists of our many blessings, cultivating the attitude of gratitude. If you haven't read Ann Voskamp's book,  1000 Gifts, you must. It's life changing.

And out came the old pilgrim salt and pepper shakers.
I made these ceramic shakers years ago by just clear glazing them and having them fired. Every year we repaint them with acrylic paints as a Thanksgiving activity. Then we wash the paints off to be ready for the next year. This year I'm working on some turkey salt and pepper shakers, too, but haven't gotten them back to the ceramic shop to be fired. They may have to wait till November Thanksgiving.

Giving thanks to our loving God should be part of who we are as Christians. We have a special day every year in which to do that (in our case, we have two such days this year). We also have the table of the eucharist, which means the table of thanksgiving, which we happily enjoy every Sunday. We have times throughout our days, primarily as we sit at our meal tables, to give thanks. And our every breath should be a thanksgiving to the God who loves us so much and showers us with so many undeserved blessings. That would do away with so much complaining and self-pity.

Give thanks!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hunting - Good for the Soul, Good for Girls

It was actually the hail that woke me up, about 15 minutes before the alarm was supposed to awaken me.

I woke Roo and we lay in my bed, reluctant to leave its warmth and comfort, but also desiring to be out where the deer were. The rain and hail didn't help push us out of the bed.

Then she reported that she could see the stars. I looked and their brightness beckoned us out. So we quickly fried some eggs, bundled up a little, and headed out to the tree house/deer blind to start the youth hunt.

Even if we hadn't seen deer, the glory of the morning would have made the effort worthwhile. The height of the treehouse/deer blind gave us a panoramic view of the sunrising, illuminating the misty field.

The hail had turned to drizzle and fog and it was beautiful. Crystalline drops hung from the pine needles and light reverberated through them as the sun rose, more quickly than one would expect. How a blonde or white hair had gotten got in the needles is a mystery. The clarity of the needles and drops was stark against the morning mistiness. 

Patience is a lesson to be learned well while hunting. Roo's older sisters had composed a "rap" piece describing how they were cold and bored and wished they had gotten a deer. The composition was born in this treehouse. Now Roo was getting the feel of it. As active as she is, sitting quietly is a great challenge and much whispering went on, but she waited, seeing bushes turn into deer and back into bushes again.

Finally one of those deer appeared in the middle of the field...in a place where we knew there were no bushes. She squeezed off a shot and we saw the deer run off into the woods by the swamp. She wasn't too confident about the shot, but still wanted to run right down and tell her sisters who were still in beds. 

More patience was needed as I told her to wait awhile because another deer might appear. So, she stood with gun through the window peering into the fogginess, hoping, yet not sure that anything would come after the noise of her first shot.

Patience paid off as two more deer appeared in the middle of the fog. She held her shot for quite awhile as the fog burned off and she got a much better view of them. 

Let out the breath. Squeeze the trigger. Brace against the kick of the 243 rifle. Watch the deer run clumsily to the left, making it into a hedgerow. Big excited eyes. Mom is confident of that shot, having watched how it ran.

Down the ladder, into the house where sisters are up, having been awakened by the shots. Excitement fills the house as everybody bundles up, grabs knives, and prepares to track the deer, hoping to find two down.

Precious found the second deer, a spike-horn buck, after "gut instinct" told her to turn left at a certain spot and look on the other side of the hedgerow. The first deer was never found, not a trace, which means it was probably not even wounded, for which we are thankful.

It took several of us ladies to field dress the deer, not being overly experienced and not having very sharp knives, but we got it done! And it's good for ladies to do things like that. As we say here, "No fainting couches for these princesses."

And it's good for all of us to realize that for us to continue to live, at least as omnivores, something must die. A part of God's precious creation must die for us to live.

We are so thankful that God gave this creature (and another one shot by Princess the next evening) for us to eat, for good, healthy meat, and the thrill of patience paying off. 

And we're thankful for the ultimate Life given so that we can truly live...in Him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Painful Judgments

She stood alone on the corner just outside the big store.

She was skinny and tired-looking, but gazed hopefully at the cars slowing down for the stop sign. 

We had noticed her on our way into the store, but had forgotten she was there by the time we came out. So I drove a circle around in order to get back to her and to give us time to get some money out of my purse.

We pulled up next to her and my husband handed the money out.

Her reaction surprised and saddened us.

She started crying.

"Thank you so much!" she wept.

Then between sobs she told of the people in the previous car. How they had shouted out to her that she could at least get a job at McDonald's.

"They didn't even know," she told us. "I've been working third shift at McDonald's ever since I lost my factory job."

"But it's just not enough."

I had to wonder when the poor lady got any sleep.

The pain of their judgment was awful to see.

Sticks and stones and words can hurt. In fact, words may hurt more than sticks and stones.

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Maybe we should have jumped out of the car and given her hugs, but we didn't think of it till we were driving away. I wish we'd had more cash to give, too. 

I asked if she'd tried any of the churches around and she said her own church was very helpful. 

I haven't seen her at that spot since and I hope and pray that all is well with her.

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It makes me wonder about the way we judge people. And we all do.

We make assumptions that a homeless person is a bum, or a needy person is just lazy. 

We think we have a right to make scathing comments - being thoughtless actually, or thinking we're funny, or thinking we have a right to tell them how to fix their lives. 

And we might actually know nothing.

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It also makes me think about giving hand-outs to needy people.

We're often so afraid that the money will be used wrongly - like to buy booze or other potentially harmful things. It might be a legitimate fear. I wouldn't want to participate in someone becoming drunk or high or getting lung cancer from cigarettes. And if I knew for sure that the money would be used that way or in some other destructive way, I wouldn't irresponsibly hand it over.

But God tells us to freely give. Even as He bestows blessings even on the wicked.

He relieves us of the burden of judging whether or not that person deserves the gift or how that person is going to use the gift. And He allows us the joy of participating with Him in blessing others as well as giving us the faith to trust that He can keep that person from using the gift wrongly. Or teach the recipient something important if they do use it wrongly.

Hey, it's all His anyhow.