Saturday, March 31, 2007

Quirky Quote Qontest Entry


jewlsntexas has a really lovely contest - the prize is a new blog design! I decided to enter with a simple quote I came upon recently.



"The best 'aromatherapy' comes directly from the kitchen."

~ Susan Branch

Scent-sational!


When you are in the midst of a bathroom renovation, you can't help but find yourself wandering about in Lowes, looking for a certain part/fixture/accessory - it just can't be avoided! If you should suddenly find yourself completely turned around and unexpectedly going out those wonderful sliding doors to the garden center, perhaps you'll understand my dilemma.

This mini bulb garden just called out my name! Such a little purchase managing to make my heart sing amidst the dust, noise and interruptions of the bathroom demolition! I wish you could smell them with me! This morning the hyacinths are opening up and the whole kitchen is fresh with the heady fragrance.

On Wednesday we used the bulb garden for our subject for our Nature Notebooks since it was quite rainy and windy outdoors. This was the result:


These are our Nature Notebooks

The Dreamer's beautiful drawing.


The Storyteller tries his best.


Mommy's attempt.




Thursday, March 29, 2007

Loosing track of time ...


I didn't mean to just drop out of the blogging world for a week - I just lost track of time somehow!
We are in the beginning of the master bathroom project, and so far it is going well. It is good to know that our efforts were needed, as we have found the mold to be more extensive than we first thought. It is amazing what paint can cover up! Before we purchased this home the previous home owners had just painted over the problems. In hindsight, I wish we had tackled the bathroom project first, but at least we have all the experience of our other project to help with this one!
So things are very busy at our house. The Storyteller has been very much underfoot for our kind contractor. The Storyteller is very excited about the demolition process. He 'feels called by God to join Mr. Nate's company when he is bigger'! When I explained that he needed to get finished with his schooling first, it was a great motivation to buckle down and work hard. That didn't last very long though, since the draw to go watch and help in 'some way' is stronger than the desire to get through school work quickly.
The Dreamer is loving this warmer weather and wanting to get outside as much as possible. Thankfully a few of her clothes from last summer are still fitting her since I have not had the energy to get shopping or sewing for her yet. I was to my doctor today for more blood work, so we'll see if there is something new going on to explain my current state of fatigue!
I must get back to bed and see if I can get a few more 'winks' before I really need to get up! I don't often suffer with sleeplessness, but have been having trouble the last few nights. I pray that it is not worry keeping me awake! I just feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done each day and start writing to do lists in my head! I'm trying to remember to 'cast all my anxiety on Him' - trying!
Here is a worship song that we have been singing all week. The Storyteller learned it for AWANA Sunday and he has been singing it full volume ever since! Thankfully, we have it on a worship C.D., so we can listen and sing along - and try to get the words right! It has especially touched my heart - He is my strength when I am weak!

All In All


You are my strength when I am weak

You are the treasure that I seek

You are my all in all

Seeking You as a precious jewel

Lord, to give up I'd be a fool

You are my all in all

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame

Rising again I bless Your name

You are my all in all

When I fall down You pick me up

When I am dry You fill my cup

You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God Worthy is Your name

Jesus, Lamb of God Worthy is Your name

You are my strength when I am weak

You are the treasure that I seek

You are my all in all

Seeking You as a precious jewel

Lord, to give up I'd be a fool

You are my all in all

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame

Rising up again I bless Your name

You are my all in all
When I fall down You pick me up

When I am dry You fill my cup

You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God Worthy is Your name

Jesus, Lamb of God Worthy is Your name


Nichole Nordeman; Written by Dennis Jernigan

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Cheerful Heart


Proverbs 17:22
“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Before I put 'that thing' away ...


I decided to to a bit more 'crafting', for our master bedroom. Our walls are dark 'tate olive' which make our room great for sleeping! I was trying to add a bit of color to liven things up a bit. I've decided that with all of the master bathroom renovation dust, I will have to put these away for the time being, but at least they will be ready for when the dust settles.

I've not been feeling very well and don't have a great deal of energy, but getting little things like this done and off my 'to do' list helps me feel like I am accomplishing something depite my lack of energy! This verse has also been an encouragement this week:

“The LORD your God is with you, He is
mighty to save. He will take great delight
in you, He will quiet you with
His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Inspiration

I am believer in my grandfather's old adage 'if you don't use the talents God has blessed you with, you will soon loose them'. As it had been some time since I tested my 'skill' with the hot glue gun, I decided I was in grave danger of loosing said 'skill'. As soon as I took out my dusty glue gun, the children ran for the hills.




"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Run for it .... she's plugging that thing in
again ... you know what's going to happen next .... run! run!"

And run they did! I decided not to traumatise them further and waited until after they were in bed last night to begin my project.

My inspiration - this catalogue. The hall bathroom is on it's way to a lighthouse theme for our sand and sea loving boy, and this wreath looked like it would fit in perfectly.


After scrounging through my boxes last week I realized I lacked only one ingredient for this wreath - the shells! I found a pretty assortment in a basket at Crafts 2000 for $2.99. Delightful!



One caution, the shells underneath the pretty ones in the basket look nothing like the shells on top - they are plain, somewhat broken, and perfect for future craft projects with the kids. Yes, Poppa, a sea shell art project for your wall could be in your near future! Be prepared to put in a heavy duty nail.



A second caution, the finished project is really heavy. Why I didn't think of this, knowing that the basket of shells itself was pretty heavy, I don't know, but a heavy duty hook was needed. Also, shells are more fragile than they seem - best not to ask how I know this!



My final caution. Low melt hot glue doesn't work with shells, and high temp glue guns are hot - really really hot! I tried to be careful, of course! Since the children were asleep I could not scream so I did a strange hot! hot! hot! glue dance over to the cold running water! Ouchie! I read last night that honey is great for burns so I applied some and most of my fingers are better today! I'm glad I don't have to be fingerprinted any time soon - it might be a while before I have any fingerprints again!





The end result!

Now that I look at the picture, it looks like it could use a haircut in some places and more shells in others, but The Storyteller loves it and has already asked me to leave it just as it is. Time to put the glue gun away!





Friday, March 16, 2007

Aunt Sarah's Pecan Crisps


Its been a week of pouring over estimates and comparing prices and finally coming to 'the big' decision, which has lead to making a lot more little decisions quite quickly - in other words we are launching .... yet another renovation! This time it is the moldy master bathroom - the room that I think is part of the basis for all of the illness we have suffered this winter. I have tried to keep ahead of the mold, but you cannot clean behind the drywall, and it has just progressed to a necessary gut and re-do kind of renovation.


Am I ready for this kind of stress? I don't know! I don't think so! We have been down this road thrice now - four times if we include having a painter here for more then a month banishing the multiple shades of orange we inherited when we purchased this home just over two years ago. I think I just want to get it done and over with so that I don't have to deal with the mold any longer. I am praying for strength and clarity of mind - and that we can keep on doing our schoolwork with as few distractions as possible!


When we were almost done our schoolwork, I decided to just relax and do some baking today - more than 1/2 of it is already out the door to friends and neighbours! I made 3 loaves of banana bread, 4 loaves of whole wheat bread and Aunt Sarah's Pecan Crisps. If you can keep out of these you are a better woman than I! The recipe says they are 'good keepers' since they have a high butter content, but you just try to stop at one! How do I know they go nicely with a hot cup of tea? Mmmmm ...




Aunt Sarah’s Pecan Crisps


1 cup butter - do not substitute
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar - unsifted
½ cup all purpose flour, sifted
½ cup cake and pastry flour, sifted
7/8 cup coarsely chopped pecans



Into beater bowl measure butter, vanilla and icing sugar and beat on high until pale, smooth and light. Beat in flours, then add nuts. Butter a 11”x15” cookie sheet with ½“ sides (or jelly roll pan). With spatula spread batter thinly and evenly making it a bit thicker at the edges than the middle since they tend to brown faster. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes for a shortbread like texture and pale golden color. Bake for 20 minutes for a crisp texture and a deeper golden color - they actually took 25 minutes today since it is really damp here.



Cool in pan and sprinkle evenly with a dusting of icing sugar. Break into pieces and pile them higgledy-piggledly on a fancy cookie plate. For a more uniform look cut into triangles while still warm. Icing sugar dusting can be omitted (or forgotten ;+) they are just WONDERFUL!



Thank you Mrs. D. for including this in the Bethel Ladies’ Coffee Hour Cookie Cookbook


Monday, March 12, 2007

Down the garden path ...




"There can be no other occupation
like gardening in which, if you were to creep up
behind someone at their work,
you would find them smiling."

~ Mirabel Osler
Image courtesy of Antique Clipart

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Spring Fever?



"Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world."


~Virgil A. Kraft



My home reflects the world outside my window - little piles of dirty snow and soggy garbage scattered here and there. Inside, my house is just the same - little projects, big projects, piles of books, papers and 'stuff' that needs to be put away.


I'm in the mood to move the furniture, re-arrange the bookshelves, finish those curtains and make some new arrangements for 'here' and and a fresh wreath or two for 'there'. I'd like to pick up a paintbrush and transform a chair, sit at my sewing table and produce plump pillows, and find a new home for the desk I am always stubbing my toes on. I even have an urge to go .... (and this is so unlike me) shopping! As if I could shop my way out of this mood!



'It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've
got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!'


~Mark Twain




I have, in short, a vague feeling of dissatisfaction with my surroundings. Perhaps it is 'spring fever', or perhaps it is just a longing for perfect order and beauty, but whatever it is, I hope it passes soon!




The reality is, that if I can just look past what isn't done and really see all the beauty that does surround me, I will know the blessing of contentment and the undeniable joy of the comfort of our Christ - centered home. We are so very blessed!




I'm not saying I don't want to tidy up and get these projects completed, I'm just wanting to be sure to be content in the process. I don't want an attitude of dissatisfaction to creep in and make me feel like 'I'll be happy when ... ', because I know God wants me to be content in all circumstances - and my circumstances are really very wonderful.



God has called me to be a woman at home, a wife, a mother, and a teacher. I long to do it all with excellence because I want my life to bring glory to God. I pray each day for the strength to do 'the next thing' with an attitude of gratitude, and to teach our children by example.



The seeds of discontent are so easily sown, but what they reap is an ungrateful heart, and that makes for a very unhappy harvest. So, today, I am pulling up those weedy seedlings and planting some gratitude - I hope you'll join me!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Marsh-wiggle Madness!


It is not everyday that one discovers that one has 'given birth to a Marsh-wiggle', but today was such a day for me! The children are both devoted Narnia fans and have listened to the Harper Audio CD's through from 'The Magician's Nephew' to 'The Last Battle' - more then once!

The Historian is currently reading the whole series to The Storyteller - and thus we are caught up once again in this wonderful world of Kings and Queens, giants, fawns, dwarfs, talking beasts and Marsh-wiggles - and most specifically Puddleglum.

The Storyteller, who is nicely recovering from a bout of sister's virus, has many chapters of each of the books memorized, so it really isn't hard to 'play' Narnia - he tells me exactly what to say! If I get lost, he stops and repeats whole paragraphs for me to repeat. He'll have to pick shorter dialogues for me now that I'm over forty, I guess!

Today, he took some cording and 'webbed' his feet. He stuck a feather in a dress up hat, put on an old brown coat and belt, gathered a tinder box and bow and presented himself to me.

In his best English accent:

'Don'tcha know who I am Madam?' Why look at me mud brown hair and me mud brown eyes! See me webbed feet at the end of me long stringy legs! It's none other than your son, Puddleglum, come for a visit, I am! Didn't you recall you'd given birth to a March-wiggle?'

There are some very distinct advantages of home education - we have the time to laugh until tears roll down our cheeks when our 6 year old Puddleglum comes for a visit.

It's good he's a very respectable Marsh-wiggle, or should I say, Respecta-wiggle?

Image from Marshwiggle

Monday, March 5, 2007

Ten Today ...


Where has the time gone? Ten years ago today a very special little boy was born. My husband and I were a 'waiting adoptive couple', hoping and praying each day to be 'chosen'. We were thrilled to get a call two days later - we were being considered by his birthmom! We were so nervous and excited.


We went to meet his birthmom and she liked us very much - then we went to meet 'our' baby boy! What a special sweet tiny little charmer he was - we couldn't wait to take him home! His foster family were wonderful - a homeschooling family of 6, godly Christians putting their faith into practice everyday. We visited for hours every day we were able to and got to know 'our' sweet boy!


We went home each night in a daze - we couldn't sleep, hardly ate, and neglected our church work terribly. We could hardly believe the blessing that was to be ours - a baby boy!


Finally, the first bunch of paper work was done, and we brought him home - just before Easter. We were still 'just fostering with a view to adopt', but how can you hold back your heart from loving a baby just because the paperwork isn't quite complete? You can't, and we didn't - and we don't for a moment regret loving him.


The Historian's mother came to see her first living grandson armed with a basket full of the most wonderful little boy clothes. Our church family showered us with love and baby gifts. We were forgiven for walking about in a daze! We got special permission to take him over the border to Canada so my parents could meet our precious boy. We celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary with them and 'showed off' our blessing!


On our way home, our baby boy was tired. We really couldn't afford a night in a hotel, but we took one anyway, and it was a precious night. He was fussy and tired, but we sang to him, rocked him, and prayed for him for hours. Our hearts were so full.


We arrived home to a message from our case worker. She sounded like she had been crying. Our boy's birthfamily had made other arrangements for the raising of this precious baby boy, and we were to take him back the next day.


We could hardly believe the pain. We had no idea it could hurt so much to loose a child.


We took him back to the agency - we decided to take all the beautiful clothes and lavish gifts that had been his to show the birthfamily how much he had been loved. We took a few of the pictures we had of him too, and gave it all to them. I read my journal to them - all of the love we felt was poured out before them. We wanted them to know what a blessing it had been to us to be a part of his life - even for a few short weeks.


We went home to grieve.
We called out to God and He answered. He brought peace first, healing took more time. I cooked - filled every one's freezer until my husband was worried we would go broke buying food to give away. I knit - 500 cotton dishcloths. It helped. Time helped. Prayer helped.


We prayed and waited. Six months later we felt the Lord telling us it was time to try again. We called and asked for our adoption profile to be put back into 'circulation'. Six weeks later we were chosen again!


This time the results were much more satisfying - we have our beautiful sweet Dreamer, and we have no regrets. We know God's plan to be perfect in every way.


We don't forget 'our' first precious child. We know God doesn't forget either. Everyday for the rest of my life I will pray for our first sweet boy. I wonder how he is growing up. I wonder what he looks like, likes to play with, likes to eat. I wonder how he is doing in school.


Most of all I wonder if anyone is telling him about Jesus. I wonder if he knows the Lord in a real way, or only His name used in obscenity. We just keep on praying. We know God has a special plan for his life - something we will likely never know this side of heaven.


So, today is his tenth birthday! I wish I could make him a cake, sing to him and give him a big hug. Today, I am a bit happy-sad, but I'm praying! Praying that this precious boy will know how much he is loved, praying he will know the love of God in his young life. Praying that he will hunger and thirst after righteousness. Praying that all is well.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Ladies' Home Journal


I am having such a lovely time perusing a 100 year old copy of The Ladies' Home Journal! The Historian just unearthed it from the storage closet and reminded me of it's existence. It is in very rough shape - literally falling apart. It's cover has parted ways with it's contents long ago.
Still, it is so fun to look through and learn from. The illustrations are so quaint and lovely. There is a detailed article entitled "How Can We Live More Cheaply?". In summation, the author, Mary Mills West states:
"Here is the principle in a nutshell: Several small quantities of anything bought day after day are nearly always more expensive than the same amount in one parcel. If purchases can be made in original packages directly from the wholesale merchant so much the better."
Buy in bulk - hmmmm that sounds so familiar! Advertisements for 'The First Paper Diaper' and Nabisco Sugar Wafers and The "Universal" Bread Maker astound me! There are wonderful articles about 'making over' children's clothing, and delightful sewing pattern offers. There are 'free' crochet patterns and household cleaning hints. There is even music for 'The Day When You'll Forget Me' an old time ballad! The print is very fine, so there is a lot to read!
I am thinking about trying to mat and frame some of the best pages to hang above my sewing and craft table, since the periodical is already falling apart. I don't know what else to do to best enjoy and preserve these pages. I don't think the storage closet is benefiting from it's unique beauty!

Light Reading


The other day I bought a book purely on impulse - I just needed some light reading to take my mind off my curtain troubles! I was attracted to the cover, though I don't usually judge a book by the cover! I was unfamiliar with the author, but a recommendation from Tracie Peterson was very motivating. I'm glad I followed my impulse because Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake was so much fun!


I laughed out loud, I shed a tear, I was, at times, on the edge of my seat, and I didn't worry about my curtains for a moment! I really like the way this author wove her tale! I enjoyed the fact that her heroine is less than perfect - actually very clumsy, like myself! It is inspirational historical fiction with a murder mystery and a bit of romance thrown into the mix. Perfect for taking my mind off pesky window treatments!


Now back to my sewing table ....

Friday, March 2, 2007

My 'First' List

At the first of every month I take care of these little housekeeping chores! It takes about an hour and a half to do everything unless the water filter is especially uncooperative! Here is my list:


  • change furnace filter
  • change water filter
  • check for salt in softener; refill
  • check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - change batteries as needed
  • run the self-clean in the oven
  • vacuum all window treatments and dust blinds
  • dust baseboards and vacuum under refrigerator
  • top up washer fluid level in the van
  • check all lights on the van - the kids help with this!
  • do a walk around the exterior of the house looking for loose shingles, siding, evestrough etc. and make a list of repairs
  • dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, tops of bookcases (stuff the kids can't reach)
  • flip the matresses - just end to end for the kids no-flip matresses and the full flip for the rest of the beds
  • thoroughly clean out one closet (if I'm feeling energetic - two!)
  • clean the filter in the dishwasher and put the greasy over the stove vent filters through the dishwasher

The Historian moves all of the furniture once a month so we can vacuum under everything, but it doesn't happen on a particular set date like my chore list. We may be accused of overkill with all the frequent filter changes but what we spend for filters is a small price to pay if we are preventing an asthma attack for The Dreamer. We are on a well that tends to be 'rusty' so unless we want Dreamer to be 'carroty blond' and everyone else brassy orange-brown, the water filters are required!

That's my list! It feels good to be organized for at least one day out of the month!