Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Words and Wool

My most recent finished project is this tea cozy. It is designed after Mrs. Beaver's tea cozy in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and was made for a friend of mine. I used this tea cozy pattern and have already begun a second cozy (different color scheme) with the same pattern.

I am still working regularly on my Ballyshannon cardigan and am half way through the bottom ribbing! And I usually crochet on more tea cozies for my shop during school each day.

As for reading:

His Word in My Heart: Memorizing Scripture For a Closer Walk With God by Janet Pope. I am so glad that my friend, Catherine, recommended this book! I needed something to kickstart me back into Scripture memory, something I had been more faithful about when I was younger but for various reasons (time, kids, health, burn-out) had let it go. Janet's passion to know God is evident in each chapter of this book and she gives extremely practical encouragement on how Scripture memory can be a part of anyone's life, no matter what your stage or perceived lack of time. I appreciated that she doesn't just want people blindly memorizing verses but she wants us to also understand what they mean and therefore advocates using commentaries alongside memorization. I highly recommend this book.

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Hahn was something I listened to with the kids. I was looking for stories set in the Victorian era and was hoping that it would be "less ghosty" than it actually was. The storyline was very similar to The Secret Garden but the Ghost was far too prominent for my liking. We finished the book because I felt the children were old enough to handle it but I sure won't be checking any other ghost books out for a long time!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain has been on my list for several years and now I've actually read it! I found it very helpful, particularly as a parent of at least one classic introvert, but also just for understanding parts of myself (I don't seem to fall completely in either the introvert or extrovert camp), my family, friends, and others I interact with. The book was a bit more technical than I would have liked (must be my extrovert side talking) but the research seemed very good.

That's it for this week! For more ideas on knitting and reading, visit Ginny's Yarn a Long.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2014

 Although I am two months overdue in blogging about our Thanksgiving celebration, it is such an important part of our family history that I am going ahead to post about it now.

Thanksgiving 2014 was our first LeFebvre Family Reunion! We had every member of Michael's immediate family present except for one sister-in-law.

 It was an amazing three days together! Full of catching up, getting to know aunts and uncles and cousins, and making memories.

Here is Uncle David with some pretty big fans of his.

And all the cousins got to be together!!!!!

 Michael's aunt and two cousins came down from Chicago to join us as well! Here is Cousin Zac enjoying some pie.

 This is Michael's youngest brother, Micah, and Rachael.

 I love this picture because it captures the spirit of the weekend so well: the sitting comfortably around, drinking coffee, chatting, remembering, and laughing!!!

Various groups spread out to form their own conversations:

 Here's Professor Joe who actually oozed some "professor-ness":

 And Auntie Cole (married to Professor Joe) has a gift for loving the girls and making them feel so special. She volunteered to take Rachel and Kyleigh to the mall on Black Friday(!!) and even got their nails done.

 Cousin Zac gave Rachel a few lessons in improvisation:

One of the best parts of the weekend were the two impromptu talent shows that happened late at night. Suddenly we found people performing on the piano, singing songs they had written themselves as they played the guitar, playing the flute, and showing us what "hooping" is all about. It was one of those moments that feels like a magic bubble that you don't want to burst.

Here is Rachael showing us how amazing hooping can be.

 We spent a lot of time sitting around the living room

And of course we had to eat too!! Here's a look at the pie spread on Thanksgiving evening: we had all kinds, from vegan pumpkin to gluten free pecan.

Thanksgiving night we did a White Elephant Gift Exchange. Here are the kids lined up to begin theirs.

Then it was time for the adults. It was great, hilarious fun.
My sister-in-law, Wendee, and I organized a few activities for the little kids on Friday. I helped them make sugar cookies and Wendee brought the "melty beads" which they spent hours with.

 Andrew gets some Grandpa time.

 And here the younger cousins are with the melty beads. They LOVED it!

 Friday evening we had a cake to celebrate all kinds of special days...

A few moments of girl talk:

 The big kids spent time on their devices, of course:

And the little ones got in time with Grandma:

 It was a special treat to have Aunt Loreda with us!

 Here's a view of the appetizer table on Thanksgiving.

And the hang out room:

Here is the Thanksgiving buffet:

There were tables in the kitchen and in the front room so everyone (28 of us) could sit down:

Lots of great fellowship over food!

Here's my plate:

Michael's grandmother passed away just a few weeks before Thanksgiving (at the age of 99 3/4 yrs) so after Thanksgiving dinner we took some time to reminisce about her life and look at photos.

 And just because you need to see another shot of the pies -- the pecan was one of my favorites!

 We managed to get a sibling picture of Michael, his four brothers, and one sister.

Friday we had turkey sandwiches for lunch.

 Here is Rachel and Kyleigh. These two had a lot of fun together!!

And that's a little snapshot of the wonderful time we had over Thanksgiving!!! I hope we can make it a regular event. I'm already looking forward to next time.

Many thanks to my sister-in-law, Wendee, and my brother-in-law, Daniel for sharing their pictures with me.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"Simplicity is never a matter of circumstances;
Simplicity is always a matter of focus."

-- Ann Voskamp

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January is for Home

There is something I love about January, despite the darkness and the cold weather. I love that it is, ideally, a month for being at home. Everyone is worn out from Christmas, the days are short, and no one wants to go anywhere. The weather might even cause an enforced stay at home. Yes! This is just what I want.

I want a place to rest and rejuvenate for the year that will only get busier and busier from here on out. I want a private hibernation filled with hot drinks, piles of inviting books, a fire in the fireplace, and some knitting by my side. I actually want winter.

Of course my hopes are always higher than my realizations, especially as my kids get older and their lives require more running around. And this year the weather is not cooperating! Fifty-two degrees Fahrenheit this week! What is going on? I need my snowed-in-for-a-week weather.

Here are some of the ways I love to celebrate "home" in the winter:

Hot Drinks -- Of course there is tea, but there is also coffee, hot chocolate, spiced cider, and, no doubt, all sorts of other concoctions you could discover and make. Part of the fun is how these are taken -- on a tea tray with china or a fun tea cozy, by the fireside, how about out of doors? You can add some excitement to your winter by finding a few new drinks to enjoy.

Home -- I recently read Charlotte Moss' "Winter House" in which she advocates adding a few decorating touches to your home just for winter -- turning it into a sort of retreat. Of course she had the privilege of actually buying and creating a winter house just for winter. Nevertheless, she realizes not all of us can do that. But, we all can give our homes a little attention, bringing out cozy blankets, adding a candle here and there, rearranging furniture to suit a more cozy atmosphere. Here are some decorating books to consider:

Winter House -- I admit that Moss' choice of colors and decorations were not all my style. But, I still loved this book. Perhaps it's because books are an instant vacation for me and while I was reading this I was miles away in Moss' Aspen house reaping the benefits of a winter retreat without having to pay for one myself.

  Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature by Lisa Giramonti is the book I am in the middle of now. Oh this is right up my alley (or shall we say "cottage lane"). Novel Interiors is a decorating book arranged around our favorite novels with chapters such as "Shall I Put the Kettle On?" (think Dickens, Austen, Gaskell), "Remembrance of Things Past" (think Wharton, Waugh, James), and "Oh, the Glamour of It All" (think Fitzgerald, Maugham, Nichols). Giramonti includes quotes from all these novels interspersed among the lovely photographs of homes that suit the atmosphere of these books. And, there is a wonderful annotated bibliography of novels at the back (a perfect reading list!).

Dreaming -- winter is the perfect time to dream about the months and year ahead. Start a diary or journal, jot down ideas, or just muse in your head. It's time to just think and not do!!!!

Food -- winter is the time for soups, roasted vegetables, pot roasts, and hearty comfort food. I enjoy checking food books out of the library as well as finding new ideas online or in magazines.

Books -- reading is the best past-time in the winter, especially when you can spend hours sitting in a cozy stuffed chair with your feet close to a fire and plenty of tea or coffee by your side (you can probably tell I'm dreaming here). Do you have a favorite winter book? Mine would be Winter Holiday (Swallows & Amazons),  The Long Winter (Little House), and  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2).

Correspondence -- since it is harder to see people in the winter because of bad weather and poor travel conditions it makes it the perfect time to hibernate at home. And, the perfect time to write a few real letters for a change! You may have heard me mention the book quote letter exchange I participate in throughout the year. Once a month I am sent the name and address of someone around the world and I send them a little note or card with some quotes my current reads. I also get one in return from someone else. It's lots of fun and not too big of a time commitment. In case you are interested, our organizer has just put out a call for new members! Check out the blog post here.

Handwork -- and how can we forget knitting, crochet, or sewing (or whatever art form you most enjoy)? For many people, winter is the only time of the year where they get time to enjoy this hobby. I can't believe how many online groups there are for these activities (Ravelry especially), and how many people are making podcasts that you can sit and watch. There is inspiration to be found everywhere!

Now we don't want to get ourselves so busy with all these delights of winter that we defeat the purpose of resting and rejuvenating! On the other hand, for many of us, it is a necessity that we work hard to shake the winter blues that so easily stretch out their icy hands and pull us down if we aren't vigilant.

As with any season, we must set aside the things that aren't and focus our enjoyment on the things that are! Happy January to you all!

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