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.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."

-- Edith Sitwell

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Top 12 Books from 2015

I thought I would choose a handful of books from my 2015 reading that were favorites or made an impact on my life in some way. Here they are:

Choosing Rest: Cultivating a Sunday Heart in a Monday World by Sally Breedlove. I don't have my copy of my book in front me, and I must have underlined the book rather than taken notes, so I can't give you any of the amazing passages in this book just now. However, the theme of finding rest in various circumstances of life (the unknown, sickness, grief, hardship, joy) and using these as gateways to rest was well-developed and practically applied. Its the kind of book I need to re-read often and one that I highly recommend.

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I am not a complete fan of Fitzpatrick's writings but this is one book that I must highly, highly recommend. Fitzpatrick clearly and beautifully takes the reader to Scripture to unpack what it means to be loved by Christ and how that knowledge goes on to transform our lives.

Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering by Elizabeth Johnson. This is a thorough yet clear and succinct examination of Scripture's teachings on physical suffering and healing. Without even realizing it, you find yourself having an excellent handle on a theology of suffering by the time you finish this book.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I wouldn't have thought this book would have made this list when I read it. However, some of the things Kondo said have stuck with me, particularly her thoughts on letting go emotionally of "stuff," expressing gratefulness for objects (I choose to express gratefulness to God, not the object itself), and how to fold clothing and organize drawers.

His Word in My Heart: Memorizing Scripture for a Closer Walk with God by Janet Pope. This book was an excellent shot in the arm to get me back into the habit of memorizing scripture and reaping the benefits of that. Pope is very enthusiastic about God's word and her excitement is contagious.

More Tales from the End Cottage (Young Puffin Books) by Eileen Bell. David and I discovered this book and its sequel this year and we love, love, love them. They are adorable, old-fashioned stories of an older lady who lives in a cottage in rural England along with several dogs and other farm animals.

The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War (P.S.) by Jacqueline Winspear was an enjoyable novel about World War I. I particularly enjoyed all the food descriptions that were included.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton. This book was a great encouragement. In a nutshell, Horton talks about how sometimes it is easier to "do great things for God" than to actually buckle down and serve God faithfully where you are, day after day.

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. This was such a funny book that we listened to it twice while on vacation this year! It's a little unconventional but everything pans out in the end. The story involves children, a nanny, horrible parents, funny predicaments, and an old-fashioned family.

  Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter by Sara Mansfield Taber. I emotionally connected with many parts of this book because of various similarities in my own childhood and life (mostly living overseas). Taber tells of her childhood and teen years moving from country to country and following her father in his work as a Cold War spy for the American government.

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood by Kathryn Aalto. This was a delightful "nature" read since it included beautiful photos and drawings from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and the lands and places that inspired the tales.

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid. I'm including this because I was so surprised this year to find myself actually enjoying a Jane Austen spin-off. I never have in the past and never thought I would. This one was particularly fun because it is set in modern Edinburgh during the Festival and I could imagine so many of the scenes described.

Well, that's it for last year! I've got stacks and lists already begun for this year! I am so thankful for the joy and delight of reading!

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