Monday, February 29, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"We are weary because we forget about grace. 
We act as though God's showing up is the miracle. But guess what? 
God's showing up is the given. 
Grace is a fact."

-- Sarah Mackenzie in "Teaching From Rest"

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tea, Tea, and More Tea

February is a wonderful month for tea, especially with Valentine's Day right in the middle of the month. 

I received my first issue of my new British Country Living subscription in the mail! I love this magazine and it provides plenty of relaxation and inspiration.

Friends introduced me to a new Amish donut shop in nearby Zionsville! They even carry gluten free items (I took home a few gf muffins for the kids and you can pre-order gf pies!). You can check them out at A Taste of Amish.

 David has taken up baking as his current hobby! Nearly every day he wants to bake something. He made these to take to our last church fellowship dinner.

I was recently given a very large silver-plated tea set! I LOVE it! The scale is of Downton Abbey numbers (which is hard to see in this photo) and I don't have the center teapot pictured here but it is even taller as it sits on a special stand. I also learned something new to me -- that center vessel in the picture below is known as a "slop bowl"! Can you believe it -- such an elegant set with such a vulgar term! But, it's true. That slop bowl was used for collecting the dregs in the teacups before pouring a new cup or for holding the hot water used to warm the pot before making tea!

We used Valentine's Day as an excuse for lots of tea! Picture below are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free treats! (Honey marshmallows, coconut cream filled cream puffs and maple bacon):

The maple bacon was amazing! You can find the bacon recipe and the cream puffs in my most recent favorite book: My Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free Baking.

It was fun to pull out the china teacups in pink for Valentine's Day!

And my sister and brother-in-law's store (Wildwood Market) had so many incredible things available for Valentine's Day! I wanted one of those pies but they were filled with gluten, dairy, and sugar!

Leftover cream puffs keep pretty well! Oh they are so good! I love using my Piquot Ware teapot (I suppose it's a coffee pot but I use it for tea!):

My kids were fairly well coordinated on Valentine's Day and one even chose to wear a dress shirt completely of his own accord! Wow did I feel special! And I even got a photo of them all!!!

We need another up close picture of the cream puffs. They are so amazing. I've been through a number of coconut milks and creams to find the one that I like best for "whipped cream" and I think my third try is the charm. I used this: Savoy Coconut Cream 400ml Pack of 6 although I found it at my local International Grocery.

Another glimpse of waiting treats:

All my family were able to be here on Valentine's Day afternoon for tea:

Lots of fun!

Craig and Em brought a cheese plate. If you live in town you should order one of their (Wildwood Market) take-out cheese plates sometime! They are incredible. Look at that chocolate goat cheese! Wow. It was SO good!

I was very pleased with this gf, df, sf vanilla almond cake which was covered partially in regular whipped cream and partially in the whipped coconut cream.

There were leftovers the next day! I love the fact that the almond cake stays moist for days unlike other cakes.

And finally, I can have scones with cream since my discovery of the Savoy coconut cream!

Mr. Badger said goodbye last week and flew away to his home. It was such fun to have him around!

This past weekend I turned my kitchen into a bakery for an event for friends of ours. Scones, brownies and shortbread were the order of the weekend!

There were blueberry lemon, cranberry chocolate chip, and maple pecan. They were heavenly (I checked!).

A friend baked the brownies for me (to perfection!) and I put on the icing:

Here is one side of the table at the event -- it made a beautiful presentation.

Oh yes, look at those scones! (Can you tell I love them?! But they were not gluten free and definitely not dairy free). The nice thing was we had plenty of leftovers for church fellowship and way beyond. :)

Do you like kombucha? I love it. It's fermented tea! But I haven't been brave enough to start making my own yet. But, this week a few friends and I checked out Nature's Pharm's kombucha bar in their Castleton store. We tried many flavors including Cherry Vanilla, Cranberry Raspberry, Apple Jasmine, and Ginger. I think Ginger was our favorite.

And just today I discovered that Panera has finally gotten on board and are now offering a "gluten conscious" cookie!!! ha ha ha! No one could give me an ingredient list except that it was indeed "flour free". It was sweet -- half a cookie was enough. But, it was nice to have the option of something at Panera!

I've promised Laura a mommy daughter tea party this weekend so I need to put that on my list for tomorrow. And then we all get an extra day on Monday! Too bad it doesn't feel like an extra day! Enjoy!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush."

-- Doug Larson

Saturday, February 20, 2016

This and That

I recently inherited this painting when my dad sold his house. I've always loved it. As I child I would stare into it and pretend I was back in Vermont, the land of my birth and home of my grandmother and cousins. It has always brought peace and refreshment to my soul and it is a breathe of fresh air to have it back in my life again.

My uncle painted it and it is a farm I grew up passing regularly. On the river are three skaters playing hockey, which always makes me think of "the good old days" in fiction books. It's funny that the colors in the painting are very much my living room colors!

The sun is out today and the temperature is predicted to hit 63 degrees! Such a nice break in the middle of February!

I have lots of pictures and things to share on the blog but am running short on the emotional energy it takes to put those together! Rachel has been completely immersed in the Mary Poppins musical at high school this week. Michael and I took turns attending and it really is fantastic!

This past Monday our family had the chance to go on a special tour of the President Benjamin Harrison home. It was wonderful! I can't wait to share pictures from that! We've also enjoyed plenty of Valentine teas last weekend.

I hope you all have a good weekend! And perhaps many of you will also be enjoying good weather!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Love is not affectionate feeling, 
but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good 
as far as it can be obtained."

-- C. S. Lewis

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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