Monday, July 20, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time."

-- John Knox

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Scotland: Dunblane

Dunblane was the first place in Scotland that we connected with our family history. My mom grew up hearing stories about her grandmother, Christina, and having Christina's two sisters, the Scottish aunties, come visit for lengths of time (taking my mom on very long walks each day!).

Here is a picture of Christina and her childhood home known as "Pitcairn" in Dunblane.

One Saturday we stayed put at Melville Lodge to catch up on schoolwork and housework and spend a lot of time with the farm animals (next post). In the evening we piled in the van and drove north to Dunblane for dinner. 

Dunblane is an ancient town with a very large, medieval cathedral. It is directly north of Stirling.

First stop was the family house, Pitcairn, which is now a rental property.

It is semi-detached and this shows the length of the whole building. It is situated on Old Doune Road in the new part of town.

Then we drove across to the old town, towards the Cathedral.

The old town has narrow streets and lovely old buildings.

And of course the Cathedral dominates the scene. You can see the color change in the lower bell tower -- it dates to the 11th century.

View from the cathedral to the surrounding buildings:

I love this door and how OLD the stonework looks. It is old -- probably 15th century.

View towards the front:

Although this cathedral is not huge compared to others it seems quite large set in a small town.

Lovely flowers nearby:

Picturesque places everywhere you look:

The kids brought their capes for a little imaginative play:

Christina's parents attended St. Blane's which, during those years, was a United Free Church. In fact, I believe William Winton was an elder in the congregation. 

More house pictures:

And little narrow streets:

Christina's parents, William and Georgina, and her two sisters (my mom's visiting aunties) are buried in the cathedral churchyard.

After a good walk around the cathedral grounds we headed to a restaurant across the street. Here is my appetizer: salt beef and apple salad.

Michael had steak:

I had roast lamb:

And Rachel had fish and chips:

Eating out as a family is such a rare treat. Because of the grant, it was possible for us to eat out regularly while we were in Scotland. Boy was that fun! Although it was quite an education for the children and provided a whole new training ground -- how to order, what to choose, how the whole system works. Special memories!

In just a small way our trip to Dunblane, on an ordinary sort of day, with no rush, made it feel like we were going home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Words and Wool

It's very much feeling like a different season of life around here. I'm not sure where the boundaries of this stage began. I think one never knows. At each stage of my children's lives my crafting has taken on a different look. 

When they were babies I only dabbled in knitting and once in awhile sewed something. The elementary years proved to be a boon for me. I managed to find a lot of time for hand sewing felt flowers by the dozen and cranking out knitting projects by the basketful (well, not quite). 

By the end of this summer I will have two teenagers and only two children left in elementary school. 

The crafting has again taken a turn. There is less hand sewing, less knitting, a bit more machine sewing, and more tea cozy crochet (which requires little thought and can be done nearly anywhere). Mostly there is more reading because I'm finding that to keep up with the energy demands of these busy teens/older youngsters I have to do nothing but read when resting rather than just taking time for me to go and do my own projects. 

I have a number of crocheted tea cozies waiting to be finished. I did complete this one as a wedding gift for my cousin.

And I sewed up a few of these cute bunnies for other gifts.

I've had these quilt squares cut out for years but this summer I pulled them out, laid them out, and collated them into piles for sewing. This quilt is based on one of Jane Brocket's.

I'm also hard at work trying to finish up a quilt for David's birthday using these vintage star pieces I found at Goodwill by the Pound last year. I have the top all sewn! I hope to put the quilt together this week so I can start tying it as soon as possible.

Gift-giving is a big motivator for me to get into crafting mode. Here is another gift I made this past month, modifying the pattern for Maggie Rabbit from Posy Gets Cozy. I used a felted sweater instead of wool felt.

I made this in May for a baby shower gift. I loved utilizing bits of my Harris Tweed stash and other pieces of wool I have as well as some very soft corduroy. The pattern came from a library book.

As for reading:

A Glass of Blessings: A Novel by Barbara Pym was a book on my "wanted" list that I picked up in New York City. However, it did disappoint. I think the idea of a glass of blessings sort of showed up on the last page or two, maybe? Anyway, the book didn't appear to have much plot but rather just told about the life of an earlier 20th century middle class English woman. I've read better Pym.

Beyond Codependency: And Getting Better All the Time by Melody Beattie. I read Beattie's first book "Codependent No More" last year and loved it. This one, if possible, is even better. I learned so much.

The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge was a good story of countryside England during World War II.

  The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. Now this was a GOOD book! So good, in fact, that we listened to it on the way to North Carolina and then again on the way back!! At first glance you might be horrified -- there is talk of parents disliking their children and children trying to get rid of their parents. But, if you can take this as a comedy, the author is a genius at capturing the sort of everyday things that happen in families. There are also illusions to probably 15 other classic children's stories in the book, which makes it even more fun. And there is a happy ending for this "old-fashioned family".

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Velchin was a short book that gives a helpful look at the realities of communism from a child's perspective in the midst of an engaging story.

When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Manning was a fascinating read. Did you know that there was an organization set up during World War II to print and distribute hundreds of thousands of books to our soldiers? This book talks about how it was done, which books were chosen, and the incredible boost to morale this created.

  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a novel that is popular right now. Again, a World War II story that alternates between a child in Paris and a child in Germany. It took me awhile to get into the story (more than 100 pages) but I ended up really enjoying it. And, it is so easy to read because all the chapters are 1-3 pages long!

In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom. I wanted to read more about Corrie's childhood and the influence her parents, especially her father, had on her. This is a beautiful glimpse into a family from 100 years ago.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith was on my special list of "classic" books that I want to read. It's a coming of age story set in the English countryside (where else?!!) and is written in the manner of a diary (except without dates). The book was surprisingly on the cleaner side though the movie trailers I see have taken liberties and I'm thinking I need to just stick with the book! The ending was not what I expected but on further thought decided it was a good ending.

And that's it for now! Time for me to log off and get to work on what needs to be read this week!

For more ideas on crafting and reading, visit Ginny's Yarn Along.

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