Friday, October 30, 2009

wants vs. needs or pearls gone wild

School Life this past week was long. Sickness, geometry, dinners, emails, lists, biology, laundry, dishes...I'm not saying it was all bad...just long. Some weeks are like that. The other day, Maggie and I were finishing up conferencing at 4:00pm. She wanted to go do some free stuff on the computer but still had some other things that needed to be done. It was one of those moments where she came face to face with the frustration of knowing what needed to be done, but not wanting to do it. In all my motherly wisdom, I said something like, "Sometimes the things you want to do have to be set aside for the things you need to do. That's what life is like. Don't let it steal your joy, there'll be time for the wants after the needs are checked off." As soon as I finished dropping my pearls of wisdom, I felt like someone had hit me on the back of my head with that very strand of pearls. You see I'd been pouting on and off all week when I hadn't gotten to the things I wanted to do. I wanted to finish my quilt top, but geometry took longer than expected. I wanted to call a friend and chat, but my little guy needed a snuggle on the couch. I wanted to sit and have a cup of coffee and knit, but Kenzie had a paper that needed editing. And each time I didn't get to my stuff I got a little more frustrated and irritated. Here's where lesson one hit home (almost as hard as those pearls hit me!). Lesson #1: I must not allow my joy to be stolen when my wants are set aside for needs...those needs that I'm meeting can't be done in love when I'm sulking over my stuff.
["If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1] Then yesterday, John Samuel's lesson suggested a nature walk. ughhh. I really didn't want to take a nature see the reality was that taking a nature walk would only make our day would mean I wouldn't be able to get to my stuff. (turn away if you must, I know it's ugly) But thankfully, by the grace of God, I was able to recognize that he and I both needed to take that walk. And that's when I learned lesson #2 from my week: Sometimes meeting needs means getting away from the to do list and taking care of ourselves. ["Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12] We needed to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of the season and refresh our souls. We needed the fresh air and the exercise. We needed to get away for a bit. The lists will always be there. But the memories we made on our walk and the time we spent together are so much more valuable. I'm so glad we took that nature hike. It was just what we needed. I'm positive I'll have more lessons to learn and more opportunities to practice these lessons I'm learning Oh, and ..I'll be on the watching out for renegade pearls.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

embracing autumn

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons...the beautiful colors, the call to cozy-up and warm your soul, the scents, the rest from a busy outdoor season. So, it's no surprise that I love to decorate our home for the season. Here's a peek at some of the ways I've welcomed autumn into our home.

{this is on our jelly cupboard, just as you come into the house} {this little guy is in my kitchen, on one of the counters} {this arrangement is on one of our old school desks turned end the living room}{I made this scarecrow years ago and he's still one those creations that just makes me smile...he's sitting by the jelly cupboard} {here's another scarecrow that I made....(I have a thing for scarecrows)...and that cute little pumpkin is from Tonya, I won it in her giveaway. I love it Tonya}{this punch needle and pumpkin jar are in our dining room on the hutch} {our friends gave us tons of gourds (thanks jerry, cheryl and christi) and I lined a bunch of them on our 60's window thing in the entryway} {I redid our mantle this year, and I'm loving the asymmetry of the new look} {and I finished this autumnology cross-stitch into a pillow for our bed} Thanks for peeking around...and just to keep it's my son's room and a good thick layer of dust on the hutch...I wouldn't want to give the impression that it's all nice and tidy here all the time or that we don't have dust bunnies ready to attempt a coup, because we do. Hope you are embracing the season and enjoying all the coziness of autumn.

Monday, October 19, 2009

twig books

We love books around here. Our love of books borders on craziness sometimes. We buy them, borrow them, lend them, check them out of the library and we make them too. Here's a quick and easy way to make a book. You'll need: some heavy card stock for the front and back cover, paper for your inside pages, a hole punch, a rubber band and a twig. Cut all the paper to the size you want your book to be when completed. Ours is 8 1/2 by 5 1/2. Punch holes in one of the short sides of all of your pages. Make sure your holes line up when you stack your papers together. We scored our top cover page just so it would bend easily when the book was being worked on. Now, insert a rubber band from the bottom of the book up through one of the sets of holes. Slip your twig in the rubber band (this keeps it from slipping out while you bring the other end of the rubber band up). Now, thread the other end of the rubber band up through the second hole and loop it over the other end of the twig. Ta da! You have a bound book. Make sure your rubber band isn't too tight or your book pages will bend....if it's too loose, the twig won't stay in. Now the fun begins...decorate your cover and have fun filling up your book. John Samuel's book is titled: Celebrate Autumn. Everyday he's writing some sentences about what he enjoys most about this season and then he's illustrating them. Here's where it gets fun....You can make these books for yourself or your kids can make them for presenting a school project or keeping a journal. Use a pencil for the binding instead of a twig and make a book to keep your lists in. Or, use a chopstick for an Asian themed book...or a short ruler for a book about measurement...try a miniature flag for a book about flags....see how fun this can be? Enjoy! If you're as crazy about books as we are, a great resource for making your own books is: The Ultimate Lap book Handbook. I don't own it...but I've borrowed it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

autumn studio tour

John and I got away for a bit of a date on Sunday afternoon. It was a gorgeous day and the local artisans were hosting their autumn studio tour. We've done this tour before and thought we'd hit some of our favorite studios. It was one of those last minute ideas that turned out to be such a great decision! First we stopped at Heisler's pumpkin stand. They sell heirloom pumpkins, squash, gourds and apples. This is where we buy many of our apples in the fall. It's a feast for the eyes! We got some Mutsu and Jonagold apples and two varieties of squash. Then we stopped at Dancing Leaf Farm and I picked up some yarn for the Mystery Sock KAL. I had some limelight from Posh yarns, but I wanted something a bit more seasonal. (fallish!) I found the perfect sock yarn!Dalis spins, and dyes her own fiber...she's got a great little studio. It's hard to resist all her temptations. I also got this yarn to knit a scarf for Mckenzie..she got a new (thrifted) winter coat and she requested that I knit her a could I resist? While I was fondling fiber, John visited with the chickens and the sheep. He's such a good sport! Come to think of it he was visiting with the "before" and I was holding the "after". Next, we made an unexpected stop at an Alpaca Farm that was having an open house. We got to talk to the owners, pet the alpaca and hang out in the fields watching them do their thing. They are really fascinating creatures. They are from the camelid family and they are quite curious and gentle. As soon as we showed up they all came walking towards us to check things out. Finally, we took the long way home, enjoying the fall colors, the beautiful scenery and each other's company. What did you do this past weekend?...I hope it was a good one.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

dear dishcloth

Dear Dishcloth,
I just had to write and tell you that I really like you. I know you don't get a lot of applause, because you're so utilitarian. Matter of fact, I realize that sometimes you even end up in the rag pile where you keep on working. I mean really, a dishcloth post is not nearly as exciting as posting about a finished lace shawl or mohair sweater. But there's just something about you. You're not very glamorous, but in your own quiet, cotton way, you really brighten up my sink. You really know how to affirm a girl too, with the fact that you can be knit in such a short time. That's so thoughtful because I adore completed projects. You're a pretty inexpensive knit as well...that goes a long way in my book. I can knit two of you out of one ball of yarn. No sweater could ever claim that! And the thing is, my friends seem to adore you as well, which makes you an extremely popular gift. The wonderful patterns that are available allow me to sharpen my skills and try out some new color combos; and you never seem to mind. You are so flexible. Well, I didn't mean to gush, but I couldn't help myself. You're becoming an addiction and I just wanted to let you know how much I really like you. Thanks for everything.

Yours truly.... lisa

Monday, October 5, 2009

chili season!

Fall means so many apple cider, pumpkins, crunchy leaves, wool sweaters and chili season! One of our favorite autumn/winter meals is chili. It's a two night meal if I make a big enough pot. On the first night we eat it with corn bread and then have it the next night over baked potatoes. Here's our family recipe for chili!

Fiesta Chili
1 large onion chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 green pepper chopped
Brown the above ingredients in pan.
Then add:
2 -14 1/2 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 cup picante sauce or salsa (whatever I have on hand)
1 packet of chili seasoning....use your favorite

I always double this recipe...but I don't always double the green pepper and onion. Go with the amount that you think your family will like best. Serve hot, with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream and corn bread!
Enjoy...and then head over to Jessica's for a lot more great soup, chili and stew recipes! Stock up on recipes now, it's chili season!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

sewing with zz

Mckenzie (otherwise known as zz), my middle child, has a knack for crafting. I know right where she gets that gene. For a couple of years, she took a weekly sewing class in our area. She made some wonderful projects. The first project that her teacher, Miss Jennifer, had them make was a pillowcase. Simple, quick and very satisfying. Mckenzie brought the directions home and the rest is history. It's been such a great project that I can't even count the number of pillowcases Mckenzie, Maggie and I have made. We've given them as Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, party favors and when we're wanting to buy some fun fabric but don't really have a project in mind...we've made a new pillowcase for our collection. If you ever see us traveling, you'll notice our colorful pillowcases. So, here's how to make your own pillow case....(all techniques shown by Mckenzie)

You'll need: one yard of 42" or 45" wide fabric (pre-washed). It can be cotton or flannel....whichever you like.
thread, pins, scissors, a sewing machine and an iron.

First fold your fabric right sides together with the selvages lined up and pin one short side and one long side. The other long side will be your fold and the second short side will become the opening. Next, sew along the short side and the long side. Back stitch as you start and stop. Your seams should be 5/8". (make sure you sew wide enough that you sew beyond your selvage edge)Next, press all your seams open. Then, fold the top of the pillowcase under 1/2" and iron it flat. You'll be folding wrong sides together. Sew around this edge.Then fold the same edge over 3" and press. This makes the top hem of your pillowcase. Sew along the edge. Now, all you have to do is clip your corners, being careful not to cut your stitching, turn right side and enjoy! I've put the directions in a pdf on my side bar so you can print them and get sewing.

On another bed head note.... A friend at church wanted a small pillow covered in Thomas fabric for her son...he's a big pillow carrier...he's 3. She brought me the fabric and pillow, and I knew right away I wanted to try Larissa's tutorial for making an envelope backed pillow. The tutorial was terrific, and I'm so happy with how the cover can come off and be washed when needed. It was just a 12X16 inch pillow form and 1/2 yard of flannel. Here I go again...but wouldn't these be a great gift for some little people in your life? could make them several covers in a variety of prints and they could change them out as they wanted to! So have fun...I'm off to take a nap...on my Mckenzie's new pillowcase. Have a great day!