Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Words and Wool

Here I am, just an hour ago, sitting in the living room, quilt pieces, thread, and fabric strewn everywhere! Rachel and her friends were working on their quilts and I was knitting.

 There being only one sewing machine, the girls soon got the idea to make tiny quilts by hand while someone took a turn on the machine with their big quilt. James decided that looked like fun and he requested plaid fabric and designed his own little quilt. Fortunately, he picked up on backstitch very quickly!

These are the moments I love! To be honest, the huge mess unconsciously grates on my nerves. Sitting down in the middle of the day is hard. The thought of tidying everything up later is annoying. But, the pleasure of sitting with Rachel and her friends, and the other children too, dug out from underneath the mess and schedule that tug at my mind, is very precious. I hope that I can grow more comfortable with the inevitable messes!

Tomorrow I am meeting with friends to cast on this cardigan. Hopefully I'll be able to show progress next week. As of now, I have only 4 swatches to show (yes! four! I'm needing to go down 4 needle sizes!).

On Friday I was trying to get into our history lesson when all the children seemed distracted with the sudden idea that they needed to make giant knitting dollies. I gave in and let them have five minutes to construct them and then everyone knitted away while we did our history lessons. 

As for books, reading time has been somewhat limited of late.

However, tonight I hope to finish Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth. It has been such a great read and I can't wait to read the next book of hers that I can get ahold of!

Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson was also completed this week. I found this book very helpful for giving the whole philosophy of what Christian parenting is about. I found the theology of the book right on. Some of the examples of how to interact with your child will probably not work in my family. But, I think the point of the book, too, is that Christian parenting is not about rules and strategies and step-by-step plans that spit out perfect little kids. Rather, it is about showering your kids with the love of Christ despite their faults, training them for life in the real world, and accepting the fact that God's plan for your family may not be perfect children, or even close to perfect children! I found the chapter on prayer particularly encouraging, as well as the reminder over and over again that God's love for us is based on His love for His Son, not on what we have or haven't done ourselves.

You can find more knitting and reading suggestions at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mondays are for Grace

"Frustration, complication, and misery are available in abundance,
but so is God's grace."

-- Joyce Meyer

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Tea Trolley: A Day of Tea

We recently read a magazine that included an article following one person's tea drinking throughout the day. It was so much fun to read that my mom, my sister and I decided to post a tea diary ourselves. Here are my pictures, and my notes, from this past Monday:

My first cup of tea for the day is made just after breakfast, somewhere around 8:30 or 9 a.m. A very tiny trial in my life, but one which I still struggle over, is the fact that caffeine adversely affects my muscles and blood sugar levels. Therefore I have to avoid it almost completely, especially in the dark teas that I enjoy so much like Irish Breakfast. Sadly, this means the tea I drink is decaffeinated (read devoid of much of the delicious tea flavor). Since the tea is already below par, I take no more care in my brewing methods than to make it in a mug with a teabag and later pour in milk. 

Michael usually makes his second pot of the day at the same time. He is fortunate enough not to be affected by caffeine and I love to sometime take a sip of his tea and remember what tea is really like!

Incidentally, the best tea I have found locally for decaf is Trader Joe's decaf Irish Breakfast. I use two teabags per mug for that. At the moment I am spoiled to have some Decaf Tetley brought to me from the UK by friends. It is far superior.

On this particular day I was in need of a second cup of tea half way through the morning. The cold weather we have had this week makes drinking tea a necessity. This time I chose to use one bag of decaf Irish Breakfast and one bag of decaf Earl Grey.

My 1 p.m. cup of tea is also an everyday standard for me. Once again it is usually decaf Tetley or decaf Irish Breakfast. I retreat to my cozy book corner in my bathroom for my quiet time. Check out my virtual candle!!! Isn't it cool! And child-safe too! Oh, and do notice the barely visible square of dark chocolate. That is my ritual accompaniment to the 1 p.m. cup of tea.

On Monday, I had the extravagance of having a few hours to sit down and rest, trying to help my body fight off a threatening cold. I decided to make my own little pot of tea. I opted for one bag of a Rose Chocolate Tea (not decaf) and one bag of decaf Irish Breakfast. Sometimes I can take a little bit of caffeine as long as it is not too close together with another bit, but it can never be a regular habit. And I did not end up drinking the whole pot. Taking this time out for tea was good medicine!

While making dinner my hands were stiff from cold and I felt so frozen that I decided to stoop very low and heat up the remainder of the teapot tea in the microwave. But, I kept forgetting it was in the microwave and having to reheat it. And then when I did take a few sips of the now-stewed tea, I remembered that it had some caffeine in it and that put me off finishing it because of the late hour. Oh well. It was a nice thought!

More evenings than not I go down to get a cup of herbal tea before bed, mostly for the relaxing nature of the ritual. This night I chose to make honey lemon tea, once again to help ward off the cold. I used the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and 1 Tbsp of honey in my hot water. 

And so ended my day with tea. I am grateful for tea and the amount of comfort it adds to my life in many small ways.

You can check out Christina's Day in Tea here and my Mom's Day With Tea here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Words and Wool

Knitting is continuing at full speed ahead here at my house. I finished another one of these amazing Alpaca baby hats and got it into the mail. Must get another hat onto the needles this week.

I am trying to crochet one circle a day on my spring colored Japanese flowers which I hope to turn into a shawl or scarf.

 I have made progress on the Downton Abbey Knitalong of Violet's fingerless gloves. I need to make more is "thinking" knitting so I have to do it when I am not distracted or too tired, which is hardly ever.

As for books.........

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James  Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas Craughwell tells the events of Jefferson's appointment to Paris and his love for the food of France and Europe at large and what he brought home to share with his beloved country. It is such an interesting subject. I wish the author had made the text more interesting than it really is and included more vivid descriptions of the food or anecdotes. I did find the appendixes the most interesting of all!

Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth. Christina bought this book and kindly loaned it to me. I am now thoroughly engrossed! You know it is a good book when you find yourself trying to steal moments all throughout the day just to read a few more pages. This delight does not happen to me often enough. Farewell to the East End continues with the stories of midwifery in London's East End in the 1950's and is every bit as good as the first book (Call the Midwife). Of course there are hard parts to read (child trafficking, intentional killing of children, etc.). Honestly, we probably need to read these things and be aware that they are the very things happening under our noses in our own cities! That said, there are still many heart-warming and amusing stories in the book as well.

Call the Midwife: Season One lent to me by Christina so I could catch up! Nursing and Midwifery was the life I never led. Sometimes I mourn that, but I am always thankful for where I am now -- I couldn't trade. But it sure is fun to live vicariously through other people and this series enables me to do just that!!!

And now I must get back to work......

You can find other knitting and reading ideas at Ginny's Yarn A Long.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mondays are for Grace

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. 
There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about 
anymore than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks. 
A good night's sleep is grace and so are good dreams. 
Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. 
Somebody loving you is grace. 

-- Frederick Buechner

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Tea Trolley

Tea was drunk in earnest this week! It was a busier than usual social week and there was much fun to be had. Here is a picture of our afternoon tea yesterday, complete with chocolate cake and two kinds of tea.

We were celebrating a visit from an out-of-town guest as well as the birth of a baby. That calls for chocolate cake, don't you think! Now, this wasn't your average cake -- it was gluten-free, butter-free, cream free, and sugar free! And it was actually amazing how good it was despite all that!

 I made the cake using the gluten-free chocolate cake option in the London Summer tea booklet (see sidebar). I substituted coconut oil for the butter and substituted 1 1/4 cups agave nectar for the sugar. I cooked up some frozen raspberries with a little agave nectar and instant tapioca to make a thick filling. Then, we tried the whipped coconut cream that is everywhere on Pinterest (chilled coconut milk -- just the cream from the top -- whipped up with a little vanilla and sugar). The result was a cake that was moist with just the texture I wanted and not too sweet and the coconut topping was much better than I thought (although you can't avoid the slight coconut flavor).

I couldn't help but include a picture of the sweet baby we were celebrating! At three weeks she is already full of smiles! I think that is a good sign.......

As for me, I am working on my chores and getting my planning done for next week. I am forcing myself not to get anxious about how much housework I see all around me. It's been a busy week and later I will take time to make my own pot of tea and sit down and look at a magazine or two.

I hope you all have a good weekend and that you enjoy a good cup of tea along the way!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Words and Wool

 A lot of knitting has been happening around here because I have not yet cut out the spring flowers that I need to sew. I finished this Sweet Pea Hat by Susan B Anderson. It is probably my most-used pattern. It just looks so cute on little babies!!!

I'm feeling a little guilty because it seems as if my life lately has consisted (beyond school and housework) of getting together with others for tea and knitting! Four events in the space of five days! Here is my Homeschool Knitting Group that came on Monday. We always have fun and I love seeing what the girls have been knitting.

I've completed the first week in the Jimmy Bean Downton Abbey Knitalong! These are going to be Violet's gloves. I like how they are turning out!

I also got another crochet hat finished and Christina stitched up the flowers. Our friends left today for their journey to China to bring home their daughter!

 Here is my current knitting basket with several projects in it, namely the Greta Vest which is coming along quite well.

It was so exciting to win The Quiet Home's pattern giveaway last week! These are the three patterns I chose -- they are so cute, aren't they!!!! 

As for reading, I've not completed many books recently but have my hand in a whole lot of them!

Augustus Caesar's World by Genevieve Foster was completed last week with the children. It was a very readable, interesting to children, way to learn about the reign of Augustus Caesar and also to understand some of what was going on throughout the Roman Empire.

My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland by Liz Curtis Higgs was useful in gathering information for our upcoming trip. I am not a big fan of Higgs, but the book did serve to pique my interest in the Lowlands of Scotland. I know much more about Central and Northern Scotland than I do about the south. Perhaps we'll be able to spend a bit of time exploring the beautiful countryside Higgs describes.

  Hills Is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith is a book I've just begun today. It was recommended on another blog and our library happened to have it. The book tells the adventures an English girl who goes to live in the Hebrides. I will let you know how it goes!

You can find more knitting and reading suggestions over at Ginny's Yarn A Long

Please note: this page contains affiliate links.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mondays are for Grace

"If you are tired of style, you are tired of life."

--Carson, the Butler
from Downton Abbey

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Tea Trolley

I've been thinking that it is about time that I started a regular series of tea posts on this blog! My favorite Christmas present this year was an actually tea trolley and I have been using it over and over again since! So, I think I'll call my series "The Tea Trolley".

Christina hosted us today for our annual Christmas tea that she and I and a friend always have. 

She set it up as a tea tasting, kindly sharing with us the amazing teas she received at Christmas from Germany! 

A tea tasting is such a fun way to have a gathering of friends -- everyone can bring a different tea to try, or one person can provide a selection. It never fails to excite me!

Each of us came with our current knitting or crocheting projects.

Every 40 minutes or so Christina would bring out a new pot of tea.

It took hours for us to show all our current projects and discuss future projects.

And there was much ooohing and aaaahing over the colors and tastes of the tea.

And we each managed to get some stitching done.....

I think our favorite tea was called Arabian Night.

We made quite a mess of Christina's beautiful living room!

 Here we are: former neighbors, now friends for life!

And now we are looking forward to the next time we can get together for tea!