Monday, June 13, 2016

Mondays are for Grace

"Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, "I will try tomorrow.""

-- Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Words and Wool

It's time for another update on handcrafts and book reading. At the end of April I created this tea cozy for a customer. Fortunately she loved it and I loved the fact that it gave me some needed money toward my NYC trip!

My mom requested a small summer purse for Mother's Day.  I thought I'd experiment again with a leather base and handle. We both loved the result!

And James made me a purse for Mother's Day! Yay!!! It was just what I wanted (I added the flower). It's been serving me well ever since.

 I made this fox to take to NYC. His sweater was so fun to knit -- the perfect sweater size (fast and easy as well as cute!).

It was fun to see one of my pea pod hats in use while I was in NYC!!!

James spends most of his days now that school is out making things in his room. I was so impressed by the top of this staff he created.

I've used the trouble I've had with my wrists to funnel some of my creative energy more towards painting and sketching. I'm so glad I'm spending more time with it since that is the only way to improve. My wrists are getting better from the rest though I think it's nearly time to find a small knitting project to take up and try.

I made this case for a friend about to take an epic trip to England. It seemed to echo Jane Austen themes......

Now it is time to talk about books, lots of them. After much pondering, I decided to let go of my purchased library card for the summer. That meant we would only have one library card for my favorite library system with only 75 books available. It meant finding the 122 books that were checked out on my purchased card but it also meant saving $65 if I could go 9 weeks with just one library card. (Andrew will receive a card worth 75 books when he goes to high school in August.)

I decided I could use the summer to try and read all the books I have acquired in the last few years and still not read! Getting rid of the library card would be good motivation, I thought.

But, I only had a day's notice to find and return all the books! The kids were bribed; the books were found! There were stacks all over the living room as we sorted out which books went to which card since we had to return quite a few on the 75 limit in order to allow each person about 10 books a piece coming home.

It took three suitcases and 6 book bags and some very kind library clerks who helped me get them all checked in and the account closed!

So here is the shelf that is meant to hold my library books but has been overtaken by my own books that need to be finished or read.

It sounds great to think of polishing them off over summer until I remember that summer is only June and July (school starts the end of July). Or, until I find myself sitting at the computer ordering 13 books on a subject I am researching and must have now! Maybe I should aim for just 10 of these polished off!

Because there is a pile by my bed too.

Books are so fun. And using the library is such a joy to me. I'm also coming to grips with the fact that I love researching topics and I'm always going to be ordering more books from the library no matter what. :)

Here are some of the ones I've finished recently:

The Silent Traveller in Lakeland by Chiang Yee (2005-10-01) -- I posted about this author's Edinburgh book: a quaint, intriguing travelogue by a Chinese man in the early twentieth century. I had to read his book about the Lake District since that part of England is very dear to me. I found the book also quite amusing. Yes, it was slow, and by today's standards, boring. However, I enjoyed seeing the land through his eyes and his artist's viewpoint.

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl. As I mentioned in this post about NYC, I loved this book and had so much fun reading it while I was in New York.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker was such an entertaining read that I consumed it like a novel. Below the hilarious stories and mannerisms Jen brought out some very important truths. I didn't agree with everything she said but definitely recommend the book.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown was a great book with many helpful insights. I have found all of Brown's books to be good. This book focuses on the courage to be vulnerable and what that looks like played out into our lives.

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch was a good and easy read on intentional parenting in this modern age -- helping our kids become more grateful, aware of others, and service-minded. Certainly worth reading.

Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis by Abigail Sanataria. This book definitely captivated me. I'm still thinking about it. It was absolutely fascinating to read the life story of Joy: her beginnings in NYC in a Jewish immigrant family, her education, her heavy involvement in the Communist party, her headstrong thinking and rough, harsh personality and then her conversion to Christianity and her dogged pursuit of C. S. Lewis. I still don't know what I think of everything I read. But, the author does a good job of bringing all the mess around to a beautiful thing in the end and I think that's actually the message of this woman's life: our lives are all messes, some more visibly so than others, but God doesn't save people based on their behavior but rather based on his eternal love and purpose. I would never have chosen someone like her for C. S. Lewis, but in the end I think she brought something to his life that he would have been bereft of without her.

A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside by Susan Branch. After reading Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams I had to "finish" the story with Susan's first book which really tells the end of her story. Loved it just as much as I did the first time!

Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife by Barbara Rainey is my new favorite book for women on marriage! This book is not only beautiful but beautifully written. Rainey compares marriage to painting, photography, cooking, gardening, and several other art forms, answering along the way the questions she has received over the years from her daughters (and others) about how to be a wife. Rainey is compassionate, honest, gentle yet firm, as she seeks to help other women make their marriages a work of art.

I think that's all for now! You can find more ideas over at Ginny's Yarn Along.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Peony Parade

Peony season has come and gone for another year. It went by so quickly this year. 

It begins with just one or two popping open and then one hot day and they are ALL open!

Here is the row I have along the back of the house.

These flowers never cease to captivate me.

I walk around the house talking to them, smelling them, petting them -- definitely acting like a crazy woman.

But how could I not?! Especially when pink and green are one of my favorite combinations!

I picked a bunch on the very hot Saturday we had. I wish I could somehow spread them out over a month rather than a week!

The house was filled with them -- kitchen table, counter, kitchen sink, coffee table, living room, bedroom, bathrooms.....

They just make my heart sing!

I admit that I thought at first the peonies had grown smaller this year but I think it was just comparing them with the giant tree peonies I saw in NYC.

 Peonies remind us how fleeting time is and how important it is to stop and enjoy the moment.

Of course the house was full of ants. The kids think I'm crazy to put up with them but who cares about a few (or more) ants when you can enjoy this beauty?!!!

The morning light would come in my bedroom windows and illumine the pink blossoms in such a stunning fashion. It's never captured in a photo.

I suppose this photo gets pretty close:

I think the light pink peonies all came off two stems in this picture.

I'm not as fond of the "Bowl of Beauty" variety but it does have a lovely effect alongside the other blooms.

Of course peonies would be one of the hardest flowers to paint but I finally couldn't stand it and just had to try.

One of the last blooms.....

And now the very last buds, partially browned from rain and not very big, are sitting on my coffee table. The last goodbye until next year......