Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After Christmas

A day off for Daddy means a lazy morning sleeping in.

Beware of flying Nerf darts and marshmallows.

There's an extra little boy in the house.

Just a whole lot of fun in general.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Come, Lord Jesus

O gracious Light, pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light,

We sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, O Son of God, O Giver of life, and to be glorified through all the worlds.

The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us and give us peace.

Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's About the Cross

In His Spare Time

When he's not out doing daring deeds like protecting our country from its enemies or managing to corral three active little boys at home, my brother-in-law enjoys woodworking.

As a result, my sister gets great enjoyment.

Here's their latest project. The moulding around their fireplace was extended to raise the height and allow for the additions of a wonderful mantel and a delightful monogram from our friends at graffitiCHIC. Oh, how I love the detail!

Fantastic job, guys! I'm so glad you're coming for Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pondering

I have a lot of things running through my mind right now. There are many questions, but very few answers.

I wonder how we each come to such firm conclusions in our lives while others who seem to live and believe much as we do have very different ideas concerning the same issues.

What, for instance, makes one American an avid patriot while another is wholly apathetic? How does one person become a saver and one a spender? Republican or Democrat? Santa or no?

I find it fascinating to examine the experiences and personal preferences which seem to shape our strongest convictions. Sometimes I think that it is simply a case of one person thinking carefully about an issue and the other having never considered it.

Many times it is the absolute opposite. Both have carefully studied and arrived at completely different conclusions.

The Holy Spirit obviously draws one to Christ, and the Calvinist would say that force is irresistible. In contrast, an Armenian would state that each individual can choose to resist or embrace that calling. Both will list numerous scriptures to support their views. Other than God, who really knows?

Our family, for instance, has always put great restrictions on what we consider acceptable in the realm of movies and television. Many times our children have felt left out of the loop because it seems they've never seen the latest film or TV show that everyone is talking about. As they've gotten older we have loosened those restrictions some, but we are still a bit more selective than most people we know.

On the other hand, we are voracious readers. Someone in our family is a fan of almost every genre out there. When a new book comes on the scene, my husband and I often read it ourselves and then decide whether or not it is a worthwhile investment of our family's time and energy. Sometimes we pass it on to interested parties, and sometimes we don't. Some of our movie-loving friends are a bit surprised at the books we have on our shelves.

I am a real believer in right and wrong. Most issues are black and white for me. I guess that's why I find myself pondering these topics that fall more in the gray. I don't like the gray. It's not very safe.

So, what's the answer? I really do not know.

As Kathleen Kelly said to Joe Fox, "I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Daddy-O

Crazy about you.

Jesus Loves Libby

I love little boys. They are so cute and fun, often full of mischief but always full of love.

However, I must say that there is just something about a baby girl.

I think that's why I had so much fun working on this little baby blanket for sweet friends of ours. My daughter actually did most of the machine-piecing on this one. I just pinned and ironed.

The eyelet trim adds just a bit of frou-frou for a delicate baby girl, and inside the embroidered heart in the center is a simple reminder.

Jesus loves Libby.

Yes, He does!

Christmas Comes Early

Lots of secrets are floating around these days, and everybody seems to be busy with covert projects. Our younger son has been working on the sly with his dad and grandmother to make a special gift for his big sister and her beagle, Copper.


With the project completed, he just couldn't wait so we had the Big Reveal a little early. We led our blindfolded girl out into the yard to present...

...Copper's brand new doghouse, complete with vinyl siding, shingles, and wall-to-wall carpeting. What a pampered pooch!

Copper and her owner seemed to be very pleased with this incredibly thoughtful gift from an incredibly thoughtful guy. What a sweetie!

Christmas is coming! Oh, the fun we'll have!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Apron Surprise Pattern

Thanks to Jennifer, we now have access to the actual pattern from which my apron/bonnet came. She found this project in its original form on tipnut.com.

It was originally printed in Women's Household Magazine in July, 1968 and was submitted by Mrs. Sally Davis of West Monroe, Louisiana.

Thanks, Jennifer. I love it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Distractions

There are a thousand things I should have been doing this morning, but I got a bit distracted by this adorable baby shoe pattern from Stardust Shoes.

How could I resist whipping up a pair? These are made with a happy Hawaiian shirt print and lined with soft green fleece for toasty little toes.

Oh, my. I just remembered. I don't even have a baby.

Welcome

Thanks to Kristin and Beth at Sew, Mama, Sew!, there's been a little more traffic around here the last couple of days. Thanks, Ladies.

The vintage apron/bonnet pattern I've been working on was featured in their Holidays at Home series. This project is fun and easy with endless possibilities.

If you've clicked in through their blog, welcome! I hope you have a great time crafting your way to a blessed Christmas celebration.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bon Voyage


Je vous aime, le cher ami. Merci pour les souvenirs.

Strange But True


No trick photography or other unsavory means were used to capture this truly unique photo. All of my laundry baskets were empty late this afternoon. My washer and dryer had been humming along, resulting in this amazing feat. Everything was clean.

It lasted all of 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keeper of the Castle

Christmas Photo Cards

Carrie at Money Saving Methods has shared a tremendous deal on photo cards from Kodak Gallery. Just click here for the details on how to use the coupon codes which are currently available.

If you are creating a new account, you'll receive a credit for 75 free prints in addition to the discounts on the cards. My order would have been about $40, but it came to just over $5 with the coupon codes.

As a bonus, the cards are really beautiful!

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Welcoming Baby

Sweet friends of ours are expecting a new baby in a couple of weeks. What a joy to help celebrate such an exciting time! We had fun giving them this little baby bag I stitched up.

Inside was this snuggly baby quilt just waiting to be wrapped around a little one. It was so much fun to put this one together with its happy little whales.

It is also nice to be reminded of a simple truth.

Amen.

The Regency Dress

Part of the birthday surprise was this Regency dress I have been working on in secret. It is a Sense & Sensibility pattern that has been picked up by Simplicity (Number 4055).


Lots of sweet details here like sleeve binding, overlays, and trim. It took some time, but the reward?

"Mom, I feel just like Jane Austen!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's My Party

Amazingly enough, our sweet girl is turning 18 tomorrow. We celebrated with a Sock Hop on Saturday night and had a blast. A bunch of cool cats came to rock around the clock and eat at the Doo Wop Diner.

We moved out furniture to make a dance floor and played tons of 50's music. There were hula hoops and yo-yos, Slinkys and Silly Putty. We did the Stroll, the Twist, the Limbo, the Hand Jive and more. Wow! That was really good exercise!

All of our guests were such good sports as they scrounged around for 50's attire. It was pretty simple for the guys with their rolled-up jeans and white t-shirts. Some even put various rectangular items in their sleeves. It was fun to discover what they'd used, a cassette tape, a deck of cards, and even a box of Sucrets.

The girls were beyond charming in their circle skirts as they be-bopped and doo-wopped the night away.

One brave individual even served as our resident nerd. His Kick Me sign was quite a umm, kick in the pants. What a guy!

The cute cake was another masterpiece by Aunt Lynn, and Unc cooked a million hot dogs. Coke and root beer floats rounded out the treats, and we were all stuffed.

It was a really fun night, and we were fortunate that the only casualty (that we have discovered thus far) was a flower pot that got smashed. Relatively minor, in the scope of things. We are so blessed by the friends our children have chosen. They are truly a great group of young people, and we enjoy having them in our home.

It was so much fun, what do you say we do it again? I'm thinking an 80's party would be outrageous. I really wish I'd hung on to my parachute pants and banana clips. Man...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Creating a Monogram

DIY Bride has a wonderful tutorial on creating a monogram in Microsoft Word. I have used this technique many times to create patterns for making my favorite embroidered pillowcases.

Especially useful are the instructions on how to create text boxes with no fill and no line, which enables you to overlap the boxes and manipulate the distance between letters. You are all probably well-informed about those skills, but it was helpful to me in my technologically-challenged state.

For instance, I cannot figure out a way to insert one of my monograms into this post. I can, however, upload a photo. So, there.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More to Come

Postings have been a bit scarce around here this week, but rest assured. There's a whole lot of shakin' goin' on. Details to follow. It's going to be fun!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Counting Blessings

I've been eagerly anticipating our Christmas visit with my sister and her family for several weeks now. They are due to arrive on Christmas Eve and will be with us until New Year's Eve. We will get to celebrate Christmas and my youngest nephew's first birthday while they are here. Hooray!

Just a few days ago I learned that they would be zipping in for a fast stopover this weekend. The occasion was a somber one, a death in my brother-in-law's family, but we were thrilled to be available to babysit. I had a very sweet call from Speedy Boy requesting a sleepover on Friday night, and we just loved having him here.

We spent our Saturday watching the boys with Grandma while Mom and Dad attended the funeral and spent time with family. It was such a sweet time, totally unexpected and unplanned. I loved every minute.

Even though the visit was way too short, we can let them go in the morning because we know they will soon return for the Christmas visit we've been planning. This one was a bonus, and I'm counting it as my first Thanksgiving blessing.

I'm also thinking that there are probably a lot of other things in my life that are unexpected and unplanned which could be considered surprises as well. Somehow a suprise has a more pleasant connotation for me than an unplanned event.

All too often I find myself saying no to things just because the spur-of-the-moment nature of the request makes me uncomfortable. I really need to know what's on the schedule. It's my personality. It's the way God made me. It may also keep me from enjoying potentially fantastic opportunities.

It may be in my head, but if I think in these terms I can maintain a bit more of a positive attitude. Perhaps I'll be able to find joy in these surprises as I found joy in this weekend. Who knows? I might have even more blessings to count.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

They're Coming!


One more day 'til the boys are at Oui Oui's house!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday


This time of year is when I really enjoy candles. Dark comes so much earlier that eating by candlelight is always an option. A scented candle gives a room such a homey feeling with its fragrance and soft light.

Some time ago I shared an idea for cleaning melted wax out of votive candle holders. Simply put the holders into the freezer for a few minutes. Take them out and use a butter knife or similar object to pop the wax right out. It works wonderfully.

I also like to put seasonally appropriate objects in the bottoms of my votive holders. Right now there are popcorn kernels in the holders of our harvest tablescape. I sometimes use small stones or glass beads. Just choose non-flammable items, please! This tactic also makes clean-up much easier as the wax will often pop right out since the objects prevent it from adhering to the candle holder.

Another idea I recently discovered is to put one-half inch of water into the votive cups before lighting the candles. The water will do the same thing as it keeps the wax from sticking to the holder and eliminates the need for clean-up.

Enjoy the season and your candlelit evenings!

Check out more great ideas at Rocks in My Dryer.

Apron Surprise

Several years ago, a precious elderly cousin gave me a sweet little apron she had made as a young woman. Using that vintage apron as a pattern, I spent part of the morning working on this fun version.

Anything with rick rack is automatically considered adorable in my book, but I think this apron is particularly so. The rounded edge with points on the side is a little flirty and decidedly feminine.


The generous front pocket is lined with a coordinating fabric. Gotta love that contrast!


You might notice the small red button just below the waistband. Is it for decoration or function? Less noticeable is a buttonhole in the lower corner. What in the world? Button them up and see.

Shazam! Our cute little apron is now a charming bonnet. Granted, most of us don't have much need for bonnets these days, but I just love the fact that it transforms this way.

Can't you see the practicality of such a garment? Women would put on a bonnet to visit a friend or attend church and have an apron on hand to help prepare food or do other tasks when they arrived. Who doesn't love a roomy pocket to stash small items?

Besides, any job is a little more enjoyable when you're wearing a cute apron.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boys in the Fall


photos by Leanna B.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Complete


There's a joy I know dancing in my soul
And it comes from being with You
It's unbelievable how my heart is full
And it comes from knowing the truth
That I am complete in You

~Andy Chrisman, from the album One
Listen here.

Repeat After Me


We will not have animals in our house. We will not have animals in our house.

This is pitiful.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Birthday Boy

Today we celebrate the incredible life of our own personal superhero. When it comes to packing a bazillion books, he is faster than a speeding bullet. When there are pickle jars to open or wood to cut, he is definitely more powerful than a locomotive.

After all, just how many men are able to repair a toilet in a single lunch hour?

He is a multi-faceted guy with an intriguing personality and quick wit. His humor is, umm... legendary. A full-time job keeps him busy, but he also manages to run our home business, disciple our family, do work on the farm, and encourage us all. This birthday cake symbolizes his passionate love of music and exceptional talent in that area.

Our celebration indicates our passionate love for him. You are a phenomenon, Kev! Happy, happy birthday! Superman's got nothing on you, Babe!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fall Felicity

  • Pansies
  • Cool mornings
  • Picking up pecans
  • Afternoons in the sunshine
  • The leaves, the leaves, the leaves
  • Holiday anticipation
  • Candy corn
  • Acorns in their caps
  • Pumpkins
  • Early bedtime
What's not to love?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Toys Worth Buying


Today's topic for Works for Me Wednesday from Rocks In My Dryer concerns the toys that are worth buying. You know, the ones with which our kids actually play.

My children are older now, and their "toys" are quite different. Does an iTunes giftcard or a paintball gun actually count as a toy?

The things that have endured in our home have been the classics. We still have a container of wooden blocks that we pull out when we have little ones here. They have always been a favorite.

For our boys, we have seen sports equipment go the distance. They still think a football is an incredible gift. We never had a gaming system, but they loved the Backyard computer games, especially Backyard Football and Backyard Baseball. Any imaginary battle involved a light saber, so they still consider those essential.

Our daughter always enjoyed playing with Barbies, of course. She also liked to get craft kits which came with all the supplies needed for a project. These were great because they were consumable.

They all enjoyed their play kitchen and concocted many kinds of goodies there. We also had an indoor playhouse that got a lot of use for many years. It had a small slide on the side that was apparently tons of fun.

The cold, hard reality is that our children played with very few toys. Even as I asked them about this topic today, they were hard-pressed to recall many specific toys they truly enjoyed for any length of time. I honestly believe their best times were spent imagining great adventures in our backyard and building blanket forts or reading good books indoors when it was cold or rainy.

Those were the days.

My Savior My God


I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at his right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take him at his word and deed
Christ died to save me this I read
And in my heart I find a need
For him to be my Savior

That he would leave his place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, my Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me
My God he was, my God he is
My God he's always gonna be

Aaron Shust, from the album, Anything Worth Saying

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Little Things

It doesn't take something major to put a little bit of happy into a morning.


November means some of the year's best fun is on its way, and the appearance of Celestial Seasonings Holiday Teas is just one indication. Gingerbread Spice is my absolute favorite, but you'd better grab it now because it is only available through Christmas.

Eagerly anticipating an aromatic cupful while getting ready for this Monday morning, I was inspired to make a pan of yummy cinnamon rolls for my sweet family.


I hope these put a little bit of happy into their morning.

May they at least ease the pain of the Binomial Theorem. I think I need another cup of tea.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Homekeeping Help

It's getting to be that time of year again. You know, time to curl up all warm and cozy with a good book while the cold wind blows outside. I enjoy literature of many kinds, classics, mysteries, romances, thrillers and even the occasional non-fiction.

Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House made my list of 40 Great Reads and I have to say that I absolutely love this book! It is the most comprehensive collection of homekeeping information I have ever seen. Martha Stewart has nothing on this woman.

A few years ago, our son's dust allergy required some fairly significant household changes. We got some good information from our allergist, but the bulk of what I learned came from this very book. There is an entire section on dust and dust mites.

When our sinks were draining slowly a couple of weeks ago, I pulled out Home Comforts and found some great tips on cleaning the drains. It was great fun, too. Any time vinegar and baking soda are involved, I get really happy. The best thing was that when I was finished there was a noticeable difference, and I now have some strategies to keep things flowing smoothly.

Every corner of our homes are explored. Cleaning all kinds of surfaces with homemade, less caustic solutions is well-covered, and laundry questions are thoroughly explained. The list of topics is exhaustive. Keeping house is regarded as an admirable pursuit, both an art and a science.

I like to read bits and pieces here and there. I'll peruse a section for a while, and when I put the book down I find myself looking around my home to see what I can immediately put into practice.

Cheryl Mendelson inspires me make my home a more comfortable, inviting place for our guests and for ourselves. There's no place like it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stick 'Em Up

Heather Bailey has an inspring blog which features many of her fabric designs and creative ideas. I made one of her headbands a while back and have enjoyed it immensely.

She has also graciously provided the pattern and instructions for this delightful little pincushion. I printed it out a couple of weeks ago with plans to crank out a couple when I had a spare minute.

Choosing coordinating fabrics, ribbon, and buttons is truly half the fun. This little project came together quickly, although the ribbon tufting can be surprisingly tricky.


This one is a gift for a sweet young lady who was not feeling up to the paintball escapade we hosted at our home yesterday. After all, if you can't run around in a field with people shooting at you all morning, working on a project with a cute pincushion is a nice alternative.

You were missed, Bethany!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For the Record

I think that students should have a shorter school year.

Just in case anyone is taking a survey.

Tuck Me In


It's finally done, and my little buddy can sleep warm tonight under his new quilt. Now we just need a mounted deer head for the wall over the bed.

The next project will more likely be the window treatments. I'm thinking a very simple tailored valance. Any ideas?

Sleep tight, big guy. Love you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Little Polynesia

This fabric was my favorite of the stash I hauled home from Hawaii. (My bag tipped the scale at 50.0 lbs., exactly the weight limit.) I just loved the border print and couldn't wait to make it into a skirt, so I took some time out from quilting to get it done. There's a little left over, so I get to plan another project. Hmm...

The good news about the quilt is that we have our living room back as of yesterday afternoon when we took that baby out of the frame. Oh, it is so wonderful to have things back to normal in that room. My family was so sweet about having to lie under the quilt or peer over it during family devotions or watching TV. Having a tent or a fort in the living room is less of a novelty to them these days.

My fingers sighed a desperate, "Thank you," with the end of the quilting phase. Although I have no feeling in two of them, at least they will have an opportunity to heal.

Now I'm hemming the edges, and then we will be one step closer to a new bedroom. Pillow shams are forthcoming. I promise a photo of the finished product.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Experiment Day

It's been somewhat of a scrambling, piecemeal kind of week, but in the midst of all the madness, we found time to complete this pretty cool science experiment.

We have really enjoyed using Apologia's Young Explorer Series, and this year we are studying Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.

Lots of information about marine mammals has been sneaking its way into our brains, and our last two modules have covered whales, seals, and sea cows. All of these creatures have a layer of blubber under their skin, and this experiment was designed to show its purpose.

We began by putting two rubber gloves on one hand and immersing that hand in a bowl of ice water. We used a stopwatch to clock how long our experimenter could comfortably keep his hand in the water. (1 minute, 23 seconds)

Next, we put one glove on the other hand and covered it with a thick coating of vegetable shortening. You could also use petroleum jelly.

We then covered this disgusting object with another rubber glove. Oh yeah, we had waffles for breakfast that morning.

This hand, with its layer of blubber, was then placed in the ice water to demonstrate the difference a layer of blubber can make for a whale or a walrus swimming in icy waters.

The contrast was apparently very dramatic because as I started the timer, my son said, "Mom, you can go watch a movie if you want."

Science experiements can really stress me out, especially when they don't work, but this one was pure fun and pretty much foolproof. You can do it. Come on, give it a shot.