Thursday, February 4, 2016

Words and Wool

 One of the things I love about winter is that there is more indoor time for the possibility of creating! January has been a fairly productive month that way, probably because I brought my sewing machine out of my craft closet into my bedroom. I did this because I am helping with the sewing for Rachel's high school production of Mary Poppins. With the sewing machine cluttering up my bedroom I feel more inclined to get a bunch of sewing done before I put it away!

I got another owl made for a belated Christmas gift. These owls are so fun!

I think my favorite project was turning a pair of too-small trousers into a skirt! 

I bought this jacket/trouser suit a year ago for probably $5 at a thrift store intending to cut it up for wool. But, I was so in love with the jacket (which fit me) that I decided to keep the jacket and just cut up the trousers. However, a year went by and I still didn't have a really good option to wear with the jacket. The trousers were still several inches too small, and I didn't really want trousers anyway. Why not make a skirt?! 

Fortunately, the recreation went well and I was even able to salvage the lining for this skirt! I took the waistband off and added a few inches, let out the side seam, opened up the inseam and sewed new front and back seams. I'm sure there are plenty of good tutorials out there if you want to try this yourself!

I was very pleased with the results. I made sure to leave a little dart at the back so I could walk normally in the skirt. Good thing the trousers never shrunk when I carelessly washed them!!!

It's also been fun to do some recreating for the Mary Poppins play. This women's coat was turned into a man's costume with specific measurements for the individual who is playing the Admiral.

I love trying to create replicas of things and it was fun to take a photo and make the bars on this jacket match.

I also took a man's trench coat and created this British police jacket using buttons I found at Goodwill Outlet on a different coat.

I finally redecorated my mantel and living room for the post-Christmas winter months. I needed some sort of different pillows on the couch so took these needlepoint pieces I found at Goodwill Outlet and sewed them into pillows.

 And I needed a painting for my mantel and this is just what I wanted! (Note: mantel is pictured on blog header.)

 I found this darling miniature version of the exact doll I had as a child -- Holly Hobbie's friend 'Heather'. She makes me happy. :) I've also managed to finish sewing this bright and cheery quilt together and get it sandwiched with the back and some batting. Now for quilting -- I will be using perle cotton size 8 so things go quickly.

I managed to snag a bunch of vintage sheets at Goodwill Outlet this week. I use them for tablecloths as well as for backing on quilts.

I'm making wonderful progress on my super easy Ramona Cardigan. One sleeve is almost cast off!

Now to switch passions to reading......

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution by Avi was a gripping Revolutionary War story that I read with the children. It is historical fiction and just about all the people and events (except the main character) are based on true happenings. The book takes place in New York City and is told from the perspective of Sophia, a young teenager who vows to avenge her brother's death and therefore takes up spy work. The book is very well written and made me interested to know more about what went on in NYC during the Revolution.

Making Choices by Alexandra Stoddard. Since it was January I wanted a bunch of books that make me focus on home. Alexandra Stoddard always does that for me. Her works aren't brand new, and I suppose she can be a bit eccentric, but she never fails to inspire me and she did so with this book. This book was more about saying no and being true to yourself rather than feathering the nest but I really enjoyed it and took some important things away.

No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler was another read in the category of recovery from codependency. Definitely helpful and plenty to think about.

The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard by Kara Tippetts was a difficult but important book written by a young mother who lost her battle with breast cancer last year. Kara recounts in honest words what her battle looked like and how God saw them through it. It is certainly a helpful book to read if you are going through a hard struggle or know someone suffering with cancer or other major illnesses and trials.

I Am Murdered: George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing That Shocked a New Nation by Bruce Chadwick. This was such a fascinating and well-researched book! I particularly enjoyed touring the Wythe House in Williamsburg last fall and so when this book was recommended to me I snatched it up! Through it I learned what a remarkable man George Wythe was, who he mentored, more about the lives of the founding fathers, and also how messed up politics were even back there at the start of our nation! Nothing new under the sun! The book almost reads like a mystery as you are drawn into finding out whether or not the murderer is convicted or acquitted.

Winter Holiday (Swallows & Amazons) by Arthur Ransome. It seems like we always have an Arthur Ransome in the car to listen to. He's our comfort listening. Winter Holiday is the perfect thing to listen to in January! (or any other cold and snowy month)

That's it for now. Ginny has more ideas for knitting and reading over on her Yarn Along.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"A step of faith is not blind. We walk forward after we have looked back at God's faithfulness."

-- Michael LeFebvre
(sermon on Numbers 33)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"The more we practice remembering the story of God's goodness,
the better we can remember that in Him all will eventually

-- Sally Clarkson

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Tea Trolley

It's not popular to be a fan of winter. But if you stop and think about it, winter is the nurturing place of all that is cozy and warm and restful and even creative. It is this side of winter that I love. This week we have snow on the ground and it brightens up the winter days exponentially and gives that sort of magic that you find in Currier & Ives pictures. 

This morning Laura and I watched a handful of bluebirds flitting around our backyard. There were quite a few females but only one, radiantly blue male (and he didn't want his picture). Such a treat! 

Winter is the most perfect time for tea. I carry one of these (Sun's Tea(tm) 12oz 3-piece Strong Double Wall Glass Tea Tumbler (Travel Mug) with Strainer ) around with me all day it seems. I can't drink cold liquids in the winter so this is the way I stay hydrated.

A friend sent me her copy of the "Downton Times" this week! The New York Times included it in their paper a couple of weeks ago. It certainly called for a silver tea service. I thought the tarnished surface added to the sentiment.

These days I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen. With all our food sensitivities and health issues to cook around it means just about everything from scratch. Since we are a "large" family it also means we can go through 2 dozen muffins in a day (or whatever else is baked) so there is not much "getting ahead." I've seen the benefits of making everyone a cooked breakfast in the morning (mostly I'm the one who benefits). But, that means nearly as much time in the kitchen in the morning as in the evening for dinner. Often I get in a cooking rut and can hardly think what to cook or even enjoy what I do cook. Thankfully this month has been a lot better. I've been making recipe after recipe from this book: Danielle Walker's Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime. We can't go completely grain free around here but this book seems to match up to the other foods we need to avoid pretty well!

I love when we can  incorporate cooking into the children's lives as well. Laura has been wanting to make the cake from this book "It's My Birthday" for some time. Last Saturday we took the time to make it and enjoy it with tea!

I recently discovered this book: My Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free Baking. It's just amazing! Since I need to be gluten and dairy free, and aim to be as sugar free as possible, this book is perfect for me! I had to try out the chocolate cake on Sunday. It was amazing! The only thing that needs help is the coconut cream on top. I can't get past the strong coconut after taste. The texture is perfect and so is the look. I might try avocado mousse as an alternative. The filling was a mixed fruit, honey-sweetened jam from Costco. Very good. Next up will be cream puffs!

I love the heady scent of hyacinth at this time of year. It brings back a whole rush of emotion and memories that sort of dance just beyond my reach. I am so sensitive and allergic to perfumes and scents that it's funny to me how much I love the hyacinth and how it doesn't bother me one bit.

Looking in the small pantry door to the shelf of china at the back makes me so happy! It was worth all the effort of Michael's to paint the pantry and to paint the shelf. February is nearly here and it is the season for pink and white and gold china with lots of flowers!

I'm glad the boys enjoy baking. I don't like the mess it makes. In fact, yesterday one of them made a peanut butter recipe from our US geography study and the dishes are still sitting there. Rachel is allergic to peanut butter so she can't wash them with the other dishes and it doesn't seem to come off in our dishwasher anyway. I guess I'll need to find time to do those dishes and throw the sponge away afterward. At some point we will probably need to outlaw peanut butter from the house. I already have enough anxiety about it contaminating things. (I do have to say the gluten free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were awfully good!)

Well, it is time to get on to other chores. The sun is shining here today and there is still some snow left to make it pretty. Laura is looking forward to having a tea party later. Happy Weekend to all of you!

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do - 
or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.

-- Stanley Crawford

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Words and Wool

It's been so long since I started a new knitting project that it was a huge treat last week to get a number of projects put into bags and ready to begin! And, I've already made progress on this lovely cardigan! (The Ramona Cardigan) I'm using Jamieson wool from Shetland which has been in my stash for a long time.

I haven't been knitting because I've been crocheting or sewing! This cozy was finished up and shipped off to a friend before Christmas.

We made these cute sheep ornaments in December. The woodcuts can be found on Etsy and then wool was found in my stash!

These plaid wool dogs were one of my favorite holiday projects. The pattern is from Purl Soho and worked very well. (I signed up for their emails and they gave me a free pattern!)

Rachel and Andrew thought these were the best sewing project! They loved their emojee pillows.

Laura received several knitting looms for Christmas and has been enjoying them!

She managed to knit this hat for David!!!

David has taken a new interest in hand sewing. He made everyone presents out of felted wool for Christmas and I received this acorn.

James spent a lot of time this fall creating this outfit for himself. Each leather tab is individually cut, punched, and sewn on. I call it his owl outfit.

 Several years ago Michael carved this bird for me with the idea that I would then paint it. I decided Christmas was the time to get it painted and re-gifted back to him!

I had a lot of fun making these granny circle owls for Christmas ornaments. You can find the free pattern here.

In December James finished his metal suit of armor. We are all very impressed. He made it all up out of his head. The clink when he walks is very authentic. You can close your eyes and imagine yourself in medieval times.

 And it's the time of year for the high school play at Rachel's school and I'm doing some volunteer sewing for the costume side of things. These were so fun and surprisingly easy!

I am wishfully thinking about many more hours in January to sit and enjoy being indoors and spend time knitting. We shall see......

As for reading, I've just put up my favorite 12 Books from 2015 here.

Here are a few books leftover from 2015 that I never posted about:

The Minute Boys of Lexington by Edward Stratemeyer tells the story of a group of young boys from Lexington at the opening of the Revolutionary War. It is well-written and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The kids and I loved it and we had to order the sequel!

A Home in the Woods: Pioneer Life in Indiana by Howard Johnson is an excellent description of life here in Indianapolis in the early 1800's. It is both interesting and informative and I highly recommend this to anyone studying Indiana history. (This was read aloud with the children who also enjoyed it.)

An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5) by Jacqueline Winspear is my latest read in the Maisie Dobbs series. Again Britain, between the World Wars, mystery -- it's all good!

Land of the Burnt Thigh (Borealis Books) by Edith Eudora Kohl was a fascinating look at the settlement of the west in the early part of the 20th century. I learned so much about this time in our nation's history and was also challenged by the courage and perseverance of these pioneers! Highly recommend this.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp was the book we used with our Jesse Tree. I loved this book and the way Ann communicates so well God's love from page one of Scripture to the end.

Trouble at the Little Village School: The Little Village School series by Gervase Phinn is the second in a series I started last year. Rural Britain, cozy village, everyday life -- the sort of easy reading genre I enjoy.

The Gift of Enough: Raising Grateful Kids in a Culture of Excess by Marianne Miller inspires parents to teach their children to learn what "enough" means and how you can learn to live with gratefulness and contentment in this age of excess and abundance. It gave me a number of ideas of things I want to communicate to my kids.

And that's all for now! You can find more ideas for knitting and reading at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.