Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dear Friends

Dear Friends,

I have been resisting telling you this for a long time, but the time has come for me to say good-bye to blogging. I have enjoyed this creative pursuit. The writing and creating is fun. I've enjoyed making friends in blogland. This has been a fun place to share my photos and our visits to interesting places. But God has been pressing on my heart that it is time for me to stop. When I blog, I spend way too much time on the computer, and it keeps me from spending time as I should, with my kids, husband, and with God. I've struggled against the voice of God in my heart to stop blogging, but now want to stop struggling and do the right thing. I'll be copying some of my favorite posts over the next few days, and then I am going to delete my blog. I hate to say good-bye, but I know it is the right thing. For my most faithful readers, if you would like to be my friend in real life, I am open to the exchange of email. Find my email on my blog profile page and send me a personal note, and then we can information so friendship can continue beyond blogging.

God bless you all, and thank you for the good time we've had here together. And if someone wants to take over "Wildflowers in Winter" this year, please do, as I won't be able to.

Faithfully yours,
Elizabeth Joy

Monday, January 5, 2009

An Outfit for My Niece - Butterick 4009

So what have I been doing while were were snowed in this Christmas? Making cute things for my niece. She came to visit me this weekend, and this is what was in her package. A complete brown and pink outfit.

I didn't have time to make things like this for my own toddlers, but now their big enough to do things while I sew without getting into trouble.

I used Butterick pattern 4009 for both the dress and the coat. The dress went together in a pretty standard way. The sizing turned out accurate for weight and height, though I was a little scared, because there wasn't a bust measurement or a finished size measurement on the pattern.

The coat pattern had some problems though. I made view B which has a pleat on the top front, near the shoulders. There is a lining pattern pieces which I cut out as recommended, but it turned out to be the lining for view A. This I didn't discover until the lining was completely sew in and I was getting ready to attach it to the bottom of the hem of the fleece outer layer. It wasn't big enough. What to do? I thought and then hemmed the lining separately from the fleece layer, though it required some sewing gymnastics. I recommend making only View A, unless you are a talented seamstress, and can design a properly sized View B lining, or can figure out on your own to hem them separately. I didn't take photos while I did the work, because I didn't know if my process would even work. Another adjustment I made to the pattern is to make pink cuffs. If I had followed the pattern, they would have been the same color as the rest of the coat. I had to think it out and figure out how to make it work. It wasn't too hard, but the pattern didn't tell me how.

I used flannel backed satin for the lining for added warm, and because it was what I had on hand
Since I had extra fabric from the jumper, I figured that a little girl would need a purse. I used Simplicity 5638. I sewed two pieces of ribbon together to make a contrasting handle. And I sewed on two little doodads (a clay teddy bear and a pink clay dress) to play with and a big pink button from my button box. Inside there was a little Loving Family doll to play with.The good news is that it all fits - perfectly!

And she'll be ready to go in a jiffy.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Winter Freezes and Thaws

Two days after Christmas the weather started changing, rather rapidly. A warm Chinook wind started blowing, and the temperature started rising, and everything started melting, fast. Soon the dry creek in the valley was overflowing with water, the ground was saturated, and mud was being tracked in on the carpet. We had warm weather and rain for almost a week.

Then, this Friday morning, we woke up to this. We had no idea it was coming. It was just below freezing and snowed hard and fast. Big goose down flakes filled the sky, so we could hardly see the neighbor's house. It was wet and easy to pack, so of course, as soon as Forest Zoo got permission, he was out creating the largest snowman he had ever made.

He thought he was making a snowman, but I think that he is really THE Snow Man. We all know that this snow is his fault, because he won't stop praying for more and deeper. And we all know that God loves to answer the prayers of little children.

By early afternoon the temperature rose above freezing, the snow stopped falling, and the snowman started melting. By the next morning, his head had fallen off, but the fun memories of the biggest snowman ever remains.

Just before dark the clouds above the hills lit up in an unusual display of contrasts.

The temperature dropped that night, and we woke up yesterday morning to cold, crunchy stuff on the ground. It stayed cold all day.

And then the sunset turned the hills pink. What a beautiful ending to a day. How good to know the God who makes such glorious displays for us to enjoy. It isn't just art and creativity, it is a daily gift from a loving and powerful friend who knows what brings me delight.

"I lift up my eyes to hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Deep snow 2008

So we don't forget just how deep this snow really was, the week before Christmas 2008, I thought I'd better include a few more photos for memories sake, and for those who would care to look at more snow without having to wade through it.

I've never seen things so buried under here before.

I don't know how many times we cleaned off the mailbox. We went four days without mail delivery, before they finally figured out how to get through. The hero of the post office came through on Sunday before Christmas though, and brought us some important packages. It is our first time ever to have Sunday delivery, but no week day delivery.

With snow shoveled off the driveway, Forest Zoo and Emily Rose set to work at fort building. Forest even rigged himself up a flag. He was ready to bomb anyone who came near. Do you see how big the icicles are in the window? We've never had any there before. We've had too many days of temperatures near zero.

Watch out you ladies and gents, Forest is armed. But don't worry too much. The snow is too dry to pack into balls, and breaks up before it reaches you. You are safe as long as he remains inside his fort, but watch out for mischief if he gets close.

Emily Rose set up quarters on the opposite side of the driveway, over the flower garden. She made three rooms in her fort, but I think she has no evil intentions. In fact, if the weather allowed, I believe you might be able to stop by for tea.

The little birds love this little Weeping Cherry tree. The snow made a bit of a snow fort for them too, as it made a fine cap on top of the tree. The birds could fly inside for shelter from the cold and the cats.

I can hardly believe how much snow there is on the Blue Spruce Tree. It is the same tree that was leaning over last January after our big wind storm. We pulled it back up straight with some ropes, gave it some water, and it seems to have survived just fine. We left the ropes there, just in case, though. Just look how deep the snow piled up on those branches. It has been really fun to see, and makes the inconvenience of the snow a little less bothersome.

Christmas Day Walk

We took the most scenic route for our walk on Christmas day. It was the easiest snow walking we had had for a while, conditions were at the best and the sun was bright making very nice light. We were able to see quite a few interesting things. Come along and linger with us as some of the sights along the way.

A mule deer was wandering through some trees a ways from the road.

The river was moving along nicely, snow piled up along it's banks, and tree branches of many colors along the shore.

Sunlight and shadows played together on the river bank.

A stately tree guarded a welcoming farmhouse that has sheltered farmers and their families for several generations.

By the house rested a white crowned haystack.

Cows gathered round their feed didn't seem to mind the cold.

We got back home just when the sun was getting low and turned the valley the tiniest bit of pink saying good-night to another lovely winter day.

White Christmas Memories

Christmas is over, but the memories are so nice that I thought I'd blog about them so we can hold onto them for years later. This was a Christmas to remember with so much snow on the ground. No one came to visit us over the treacherous roads, and we didn't go anywhere. It was a fun day of family closeness, doing things we enjoy together.

The kids saw a friend's yet undecorated Christmas tree. Her kids had been playing with stuffed animals, and had set a couple in the branches. My son thought filling a whole Christmas tree with stuffed animals was the best idea ever. And as I thought about it, I thought it was pretty good too. The decorations were all unbreakable, and could be played with to their hearts content. It made a lovely tree.

The kids had permission to open their camel packs as soon as they got up, but they didn't want to do it without Mama, so waited until I was up. After breakfast we opened the bigger gifts together. There was a new game in one of the packages, so later on we all gave it a try together, deciding Blockus is a great game.

When lunch time came, we weren't hungry yet, so we went out for a walk in the sunshine. I'll show you the photos in my next post.

The next day there was clouds, some snow, and an ever great accumulation of icicles decorating our eves, but for us this Christmas is one that we will treasure for years to come.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More About Barns

I discovered that Ann at "Holy Experience" has also written two thoughtful posts about Barns at Christmas. I thought you might like to read them too as she is a thoughtful word crafter with spiritual depth.

Christmas Barn in the Morning

Christmas Barn and New Year Hope

Friday, December 26, 2008

Of Barns, and Babies

Out of my walks I've been noticing beautiful barns in the snow.

Somehow they are so much more beautiful surrounded by snow then on other days.

Some barns are still in use, and some are just a symbol of the farming days of the past.

But all remind me of Jesus who gave up the comforts of heaven came to be God with us and be born in a barn. These barns look so clean and tidy right now, but we all know what is in a barn. Living conditions in a barn would be unpleasant, at best. So why did Jesus choose such a lowly place? Most kings are too proud to associate with the most humble people on earth, but not Jesus, the King of the Universe. He comes out of love, to all who will welcome Him. Only the owner of a barn gave Jesus a place to stay 2000 years ago. Only the heavenly knew of his arrival. Only shephards and distant foreigners were listening close enough to know to go search Him out in a smelly, dark barn.

Often my heart has been as filthy as a barn, stuffed with selfishness and sin, with all the resulting woundedness and brokeness. Jesus, would you really be born there? You ask to come in? Yes, I gladly welcome you in and give you full control. Bring your peace-be-still to the chaos that swarms therein. Clean, remove, cover and whiten all that is impure. I'll have no other gods before you. There is room in the barn in my heart for you.

Squirrelin' Round in the Snow

Down the road from our house the squirrels are busy finding tasty treats to nibble on in the neighbor's trees. They are as cute as can be in the snow and picture perfect.

Snow Birds

White Crown Sparrow in the Snow

Where do the little birds go when the snow comes? To our feeders of course. We have three feeders well stocked with black sunflower seeds for all the feathered friends who would care to dine.
Oregon Junco trying to stay warm

We have one feeder mounted right outside a window, near the front door. The little birds were scared of this one at first, and for good reason, because it is easier for the cats to get to, and further from sheltering bushes. But they can fly and the cats can't, so they soon learned it was a great place to get food. And we get to watch juncos, sparrows of several species, and finches enjoy a meal.
Our oldest feeder hangs out by our big maple trees, and is the favorite of the ground feeders. They crowd in there together and eat their fill, knocking down seed for those who don't care for sky view dining. They eat as quickly as they can until someone gives a warning, then all at once they take off flying.
As the cold lingers longer, more of the bigger birds, and shyer birds come in. I haven't caught them on photograph yet, but we have seen flickers, and morning doves now out eating with the little birds. A big hawk came and sat in the tree for a while, but thankfully he didn't stay long, or the little birds would have been in great danger. Some starlings came through, but I think there is still plenty to eat in apple orchards and valley vineyards, so they didn't remain to pester the little birds.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goofy Kids in the Snow

Most adults in the area are growing weary of snow and more snow, but not these two kids. They are outside every day having as much fun as possible. Right now, outside there is fort building happening. The snow is too powdery to pack into snowballs, but never mind, it is still all good fun.