Monday, April 25, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

Our spring has come at last with the soft laughter of April suns 
and shadow of April showers. 

~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chasing Rainbows and the Queen's 90th Birthday

 For as long as I can remember I've been crazy for rainbows. My kids can expect a "Christmas morning" reaction when I see one and we always run to wherever we can see it best. I think I'm training them too and they are starting to be on the lookout for them!

Yesterday evening I followed one rainbow for an entire hour! I've never seen the like before! I was driving kids from one part of the city to another and the rainbow kept us company the whole time. We started in field country.

Then we were in neighborhoods (how do you like the Indiana log cabin?).

 And a double rainbow appeared at one time:

 Around every corner it seemed to be more beautiful. Sometimes I feel like this is a driving hazard for me. Also note that this rainbow had puffy white clouds at each end just like in little kids' drawings!!

My journey ended at the Indianapolis Museum of Art where the tulips were in fine form.

And the view from the picture window was perfect! What a beautiful gift!

But there was another exciting event yesterday -- Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday!!!!!!

We couldn't let that pass without our own celebration. Scones and tea with marmalade for breakfast!

And in the afternoon I shared a Dundee cake with a friend of mine who spent several years in Britain.

And now I am off to watch "Elizabeth at 90". Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"He that always has something ahead, need never by weary."

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Recent Doings

The month began with a trip to the Goodwill 50% off sale to find Rachel clothes! She was a trooper and spent 5 hours shopping with me, picking out all her own clothing items and even arranging to have a friend meet us so they could shop together. 

This year the daffodils captured me more than ever -- maybe because my garden seemed to have SO many daffodils this year. I think this fall I'm going to plant one or two new varieties as well! I've discovered that they are much better value than tulips because they grow and multiply and stay around for years and years whereas tulips come out with a bang the first year and deteriorate from then on.

Sometimes our dinners look very delicious. Often I feel I have no appetite and don't want to cook but going without food is not an option so cook I must!

Isn't this planter beautiful?! This is at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is no longer free but I discovered you can sneak into the cafe for free and you don't even have to purchase a drink! It's kind of like a free zone!

I can't believe our school year is drawing to a close. It's been very full with trying to cover both American History and Indiana History. Fortunately they often overlap. We took a field trip last week to the Indiana Historical Society and had a great morning. I highly recommend signing up for a homeschool tour (organize your own with their tour office). The tour kept us moving and interested the whole morning. Here we are about to step back in time to the 1950's and the Ball jar community canning center.

These ladies are making applesauce in the community kitchen. All I could think about was how much work making applesauce is!

Next we went over to the L.S. Ayres Department store and talked with one of their models about department store shopping in the early 1900's.  I decided I better not buy that $500 blue suit.

One of our activities was learning to decipher old pictures.

Our last re-enactment visit was to 1816 Corydon where a delegation was drafting the Indiana constitution (we celebrate 200 years this year!). I think this was my favorite room!

Our last activity involved learning how to repair tears on old documents. Lots of fun for the kids.

We popped into Craig and Em's store after our field trip. It's always beautiful there and yummy things abound!

What a festive place to be!

Laura is turning 6 in 10 days! Help! My baby is growing up!

We had our last Institute for Excellence in Writing classes this week. They always end with an Author's Tea. James' class wrote on Narnia topics.

David's class wrote on nature topics.

Rachel is busy with discus and shot put this spring but everyone else is playing soccer!

The chocolate mint is up and ready for the season! And the rest of the garden needs a lot of tending too! I cringe a bit because of all the physical labor it will take but I can't wait for the results!

Andrew's already been in the water this year! It's fun to see him enjoying his friendships. I guess it's time to go back to our Secret Beach and let the kids play in the water.

The weather looks good for the next week -- I think we've jumped from heat to almost air-conditioning over this weekend. Soon the leaves will be on the trees!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Life works better when we know how to glance at things but gaze at God. 
Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly."

-- Selwyn Hughes

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Words and Wool

It's high time for another post about knitting, sewing, and reading.

I finally finished my Ramona Cardigan which I started in January and had nearly finished by Valentine's Day. I got within 7 rows of finishing when my hands and arms took a fit and refused any more. Many thanks to my sister for finishing the cardigan for me (including complementary blocking!!). Next up was where to find buttons. I refuse to spend money I don't have on buttons. It took me over a month but when we were in NC my aunt took me to several thrift stores and I found a sweater with the 7 required buttons for only $2. Yay! Now that our weather has taken a downturn and is frosting and snowing I can put my new cardigan to good use!

It took three weeks for my hands and arms to return to normal after that last weekend of knitting. It seems that any repetitive motion is causing joint pain and carpal tunnel like pain. I had hoped to avoid these problems until I was in my 80's!!! Ten or fifteen minutes every day or every few days may be all that I can manage on knitting or crochet. This has certainly thrown a small wrench in my idea of creative enjoyment.  I am still thinking through what this means and how I can change my creative outlets. It's funny that I have specifically prayed recently for God to lead me in which areas of creative expression I should pursue more in depth. It seems that perhaps this may be a way of showing me that handwork may not be the area!

I stitched up these lavender sachets for the shower I helped host in March. I used vintage sheets, vintage trim, and recycled linen which had all been thrifted.

And I managed to get Mr. Basil Fox sewn together as a baby gift. I love these animals from Posy Gets Cozy.

And I managed to finish the owl bunting for the shower as well. It was so cute! I used Bunny Mummy's free pattern and then just crocheted the owls together.

Two of the boys got time with me to sew things in the past month or so. David is all about foxes and we found this pattern on Etsy to make this pillow. We all love it!

Fortunately, I had the pieces of this tea cozy made before my hands gave out. This went out the door to a friend.

James chose one of these Purl Soho Puppies and our twist was to use leather as the contrasting fabric. It was so cute!

Everyone was eager to make Lithuanian Easter eggs this year. It's now a tradition! Grandma joined us too.

So thankful for our friend Daiva who opens her home for this each year.

James made an intricately dyed dragon egg.

These were my eggs this year. I think I like the black one best.

I took a tea cozy to my aunt when we visited in North Carolina.

James came down the stairs this week with something to show me: his raccoon covered in raccoon armor! How cute is that??!!!

And I have finally pulled out my Jane Brocket inspired quilt and begun quilting it. I love the freedom of quilting these days -- using large DMC thread to quilt in long running stitches. Couldn't get over how my tea cozy matched the quilt!

I was at Rachel's school this week when I spotted this van and driver. Turns out this is one of the vehicles that brings all the umpteen books I request to my library each week. I think the driver thought I was a bit crazy with how profuse I was in my excitement about the library and how thankful I was for his work!!

As for reading, yes, there are a few books to catch up on here:

Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter. This was my first time to read anything by Gene Stratton-Porter (hard to believe!). She was a native of Indiana and wrote in the early part of the twentieth century. She wrote many novels incorporating nature into them in large doses. She also was heavily involved in nature conservation and education. She reminds me a bit of an Indiana version of Beatrix Potter. We all enjoyed this book set in Indiana's Limberlost forest about 100 years ago.

A Girl Of The Limberlost  by Gene Stratton-Porter is a lovely novel in which some of the characters from Freckles appear in the sidelines. It also takes place on the edge of the Limberlost and is the coming of age story of a girl (Elnora) neglected by her widowed mother. Elnora loves nature and collects rare moths. The novel tells how she puts herself through school and seeks to win her mother's affection.

  Applesauce Needs Sugar by Victoria Case was a lighthearted novel that almost seemed to be based on true facts (perhaps from the author's family). It takes place about 100 years ago mostly in the Canadian Northwest and tells of the rollicking everyday adventures of a very large family, the heroine being the mother and how she manages to care for her family.

Idol Lies by Dee Brestin was a very good and challenging book aimed specifically at women. It discusses the things in our lives that can so easily take away the affection that is mean for Christ, leading us into spiritual bondage and dysfunctional living.

Malice at the Palace: A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen is an easy mystery set in London in the mid-1930's. It is told from the perspective of a "lesser royal" who happens to solve mysteries. I wish I had known at the beginning that many of the incidents and people in the story are based on real facts and persons.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah McKenzie is a short but excellent book for homeschoolers on how to foster a sense of peace and rest in the midst of what is often crazy everyday life. Of even more help to me has been the author's podcast which is called Read Aloud Revival. I can't recommend it enough!

The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill (w/glossary) by Edward Stratemeyer. This is a sequel to the Minute Boys of Lexington involving the same characters and of course the Revolutionary War. This book involves the Battle of Bunker Hill and being a prisoner of war. Parts of the book (battles) were not as fast-paced and interesting as the first book but I think that's because the author was trying to put in a lot of true details from history. The children still enjoyed it!

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl was such a fun read that I ditched nearly all the other books I was in the middle of to read right through. The book is actually a cookbook but most of the recipes are ones I would never be interested in attempting. It's more the actual memoir that gripped me -- Reichl takes the reader through the sudden closing of Gourmet magazine and the difficult year in her own life that followed that.

Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table by Nigel Slater. I loved this book with its short little snippets about all kinds of British foods from scones, to puddings, to farmer's markets, to rock candy. Slater is probably my most favorite food writer. The only thing to beware is that he has no qualms about throwing in off-color comments here and there.

The Silent Traveller In Edinburgh by Chiang Yee was a brand new discovery for me! Yee was a political refugee in the UK in the early twentieth century and took up writing travel memoirs all over the UK. He also illustrated his works with his own Chinese painting renditions of these British scenes! Not only that, he writes like an Englishman but quotes all kinds of Chinese poets and writers! It's the strangest mix, which made it intriguing to me. It's a little slow for modern readers but a fun discovery.

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. I couldn't wait to dive into this book organized by the months of the year and full of tons of practical ideas on how to make a home atmosphere and develop a family culture. This book is full of lots and lots of ideas to use with one's own family! One thing to remember is that Sally and Sarah are giving you lots of ideas on what worked for their family and you need to consider what works for your family -- it may be different, but this may inspire you to new ideas.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin. This is SUCH A GREAT BOOK! If anyone wants recommendations on Bible study and how to do it, this is where I will point them. It is a short, easy to read book that communicates why we need to do Bible study and how it can be done. This book and Tim Keller's book on Prayer would be my go-to for practical assistance on developing and growing one's relationship with God.

Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E Covington was the perfect thing to read in the days before we went to tour the Biltmore with my aunt and uncle. It tells the story of Biltmore's beginnings in 1895 up to the present -- how it passed through the family and how the family figured out how to make money in order to keep it up and running. If you are headed to Biltmore anytime soon you may find it worthwhile reading.

Phew! I think that is all for now!!! Hop over to Ginny's Yarn Along for more ideas on knitting and reading.

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