Monday, December 31, 2007

See You Next Year

I remember when I was a kid the first time someone said to me "See you next year!" on New Year's Eve. I was so puzzled as to why it would be so long until I saw them again. Then when the joke was revealed to me, I thought it was the funniest thing around. I am guessing I must have said it to everyone. Well, I haven't said it to anyone one for a good many years now, but remembered it today. I knew it would strike my kids funny.

At the grocery store, I was talking to an older woman I know, and as she went on her way, I said without thinking, "See you next year." All of a sudden, I felt like a little kid again who had just repeated their favorite joke too someone one too many times. She didn't realize it was supposed to be funny. But the older man coming out of the next check out, heard it all, and did enough whole hearted laughing to cheer up the whole store. I'm glad someone is looking forward to next year. But the really funny thing is that if I saw him tomorrow, I wouldn't know who he was, because I didn't get more then a glimpse of him before he was gone.

We did have a nice evening. Some friends invited a bunch of us to meet in a room at the church for a potluck supper, and table games. Most of the people there had babies, so things shut down early, but that was just fine with me. We put our kids to bed at a reasonable time too. I have no desire to spend the evening waiting for midnight to come. And we choose to have nothing to do with alcohol.

It has been a good year, and we look forward to all the days of life that God gives us. My desire is to spend the next year walking with God, and let Him take care of the details.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wanted: Beaded Bell Ornament Pattern

In 1980 and 1981 I attended a one room school for 7th and 8th grade. I really loved it there. They were my best two years of school ever. A kind lady from our church came in and taught us how to make beaded bell ornaments for Christmas. I made two and have treasured them ever since. Unfortunately one was broken a couple years ago. I have missed it ever since and would like to make a replacement, but I can't find a pattern. Do any of you have one or know where to find one? I would so appreciate your help! The picture above shows my remaining bell which was on our Christmas tree again this year.

Update on the story: We have found some bells you can order that come with beads and instructions here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday - PJs for the Whole Family

So what was I so busy sewing before Christmas that I couldn't tell you about? I was making some special gifts for everyone who was at my house on Christmas eve. I had to ask for measurements, which some were hesitant to reveal, but gave anyway.

Everyone received sleepwear. I had a hard time photographing them. These photos aren't perfectly clear, but they will give you the idea of what I created.

Daddy and son got matching jungle frogs.

Auntie and niece got matching hot flowers and hearts.

Auntie got ladybugs and someday soon her daughter will have ladybugs too.

Grandma, Grandpa, and two grandsons got bears and fish.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Update on the Camel Packs

Here is my update on how the camel packs worked as a substitute for stockings. The kids loved them. It was much easier to tie them to a chair then to find a place to hang them. I think I made these slightly too small, 10" wide by 12" high. If I were to make them again, I would make them 12" wide and 14" high. And I would sew the corner deeper on the bottom corners, giving a bit more depth to the bags.

Inside each bag this year was something to read, a Sudoku puzzle book, a water bottle, a toy, a fruit leather bar, a gluten free breakfast bar, dried pineapple, a few nuts, and of course a small stuffed animal. (I have been saving these since after last Valentine's Day' clearance sales.)

Blog Name Change

I'm changing the name of my blog from Mama's Song: Joy in the Morning Light to Wildflower Morning. Wildflower Morning is the name of my other blog that I have long abandoned, but the name I still like very much. I'm leaving the URL of my blog the same, at least right now. I'm not sure how to change it actually, so until I do, I won't. And then hopefully I'll begin working on how this little blog looks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

CeCe and the Christmas Tree

I knew it wouldn't be long after we got the Christmas angel on top of the tree until CeCe our mischievous kitten would come to explore it's wonders. Sure enough, low hanging ornaments were an instant attraction and so were the bright shining lights. CeCe is a smart kitten, so I thought if we started right off, that she would be able to learn that we did not want her playing with the tree. I kept a close eye on the tree, and as soon as I saw her giving in to temptation, I would swoop her up and take her straight outside, away from all the fun, away from all the toys, away from all her favorite people. She would sit at the sliding door and looking longingly in hoping to be let in. After 5 or 10 minutes, I would let her in, and sure enough, she would be quickly back at the tree. Out the door CeCe would be carried.

But the real mischief started when she discovered that a tree is for climbing. Oh my! There are so many things for a little kitty to get tangled in when she is up in the middle of the tree. It appeared to be fun at first, and then she got a little scared. I rescued her and took her out. She only got in the tree one more time, and I think it has been her last time, as I havent' seen her bother the tree since.
In fact, since then on more then a couple occasions I have found her lounging and sleeping at the base of the tree. My hunch was right. She is a pretty smart cat and learns quickly.

Beauty, the Christmas Ornament

Just a few days before Christmas we experienced a wonderful thing. Earlier in the fall, as the weather was starting to get cold, Forest found some cocoons, and brought them in. We forgot about them until this week, when one hatched. She is a sulfur of some kind and a real beauty. Within minutes of Forests discovery, she flew over and landed on the Christmas tree. We've never had a live ornament before. Beauty (her name) is one that I wish I could keep from year to year. But her life was destined to be short. If we had set her free outside, she would have quickly frozen. So we let her stay inside. She liked to rest above the curtain rod in the living room. She was loved while she lived.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday - Quilted Table Runner

I do have one more item for Sew Crafty Friday. I made my first quilted table runner. I've made large quilts that require much patience, because it takes so long to finish. But this table runner took me just part of a day! It was so much fun. I purchased the blue and white snowflake fabrics, and then was able to finish it off with fabrics from my stash. At one point I was ready to make a run to the fabric store, because I didn't have the right fabrics to go with the pattern. But then I decided that I'd rather make do with what I had, and I'm glad I did. I changed the pattern to work with the fabric I already had. It turned out great! It was fun to piece, and easy to machine quilt. I wanted the snow flakes to match the winter theme. But also to remind us of how God wants to make our hearts whiter then snow.

P.S. Yes, after I looked at the pictures, I did find a piecing mistake. Isn't it wonderful that our salvation is based on the perfection of Jesus, and not our own?

Sew Crafty Friday - Camel Packs

There has been lots of things happening here at the house now that we are on Christmas break, and blogging isn't one of them. I've been sewing up a Christmas gift storm, but unfortunately can't show you what I've been making. Someone might peek and find out what they are getting. But I can show you one thing I have finished this morning.
We celebrate the coming of the Messiah to this world every Christmas. I want to do all I can to help my kids remember Jesus, our Savior. It is so easy for things non-spiritual to take over, so I am doing all I can to focus our minds and hearts on real reasons to celebrate. This year I am taking a big steps and getting rid of stockings. We don't honor Santa Claus, so it is probably a good idea to get rid of one more reminder of him. But we do like the idea of having a place to put some small gifts for the children. My friend Sandy told me how she would have stockings out on Christmas morning, and that her kids could open them when they got up without permission from the grownups. Inside would be some small gifts and some kind of food treats to hold them over until breakfast. This way the adults did not have to get up too early. After the adults got around to fixing a nice breakfast, eating it, and then cleaning up, the main presents were finally opened. It worked so well, because no one was still sleepy or hungry, and there was no mess in the kitchen to come back to when Christmas dinner was cooked.

At the Timberdoodle homeschool curriculum website I had read about how they had made some simple burlap camel packs to help them celebrate the gifts of the wisemen. Well, I love the camel pack idea, and decided to combine it with Sandy's ideas, and add a Wise Man's party on Christmas Eve, because, "Wise men still seek Him." Christmas Eve at our house is going to be all about seeking Jesus. I am going to write out the story of the birth of Jesus, in a reader's theater form, so grownups don't fall asleep, and children have to pay attention so they can read their lines at the right time. At the time in the story when the wise men come, the men can slip out of the room and come in bearing gifts, all the gifts. This will be the first time they will be in the living room. This night only one gift can be opened, and the one gift will be from me, but it is still a secret, so I can't tell you what it is yet.

Christmas morning each child will find one of these camel packs stuffed with gifts at their chair at the table. I have decided not to put names on them, because each child will already know where their seat is at the table. They are made out of sturdy brown fabric found for $1 a yard on the clearance table. I lined them with green Christmas fabric that has horns and red ribbons for a little color, to remind us to be joyful for all the gifts of God.
I stitched some bias tape closed, and sewed them on the back of the packs to secure the packs to the chairs. I think different styles of chairs will need different ways of attachment, but this looks like it is going to work really well for us. I wanted to get this posted right away because you still have time to make some too, if you want too.

And since this is Thursday night, I'm going to make this my Sew Crafty Friday post. If you have done anything creative, feel free to link up at Shereen's blog.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beautiful Dawning

There are benefits to getting up early, when the house is still quiet. There is often no time in my day more important then early morning prayer for the purpose of communion with Jesus, and study of the Bible for the purpose of knowing Him better.

Sunday morning, scenes of glory, to beautiful to describe crossed the sky, and only I was awake to enjoy it. The peaceful quiet soothed me. The air outside was crisp and cold. Snow covered fields reflected pinks, orange and red. I opened the door just enough to poke my telephoto out, and then wrapped back up in my blanket on the couch to enjoy the whole display.The love of God in the book of Deuteronomy on my lap amazed me. I had never realized that there was so much love from God in this Old Testament book. God loved His people long before He gave us John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He didn't start loving people just when Jesus came to earth. He was loving us long before, and He wasn't afraid to say it.

The word "love" is found 29 times in Deuteronomy. Here are some of my favorite verses I found there.

"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him." Deuteronomy 4:7

"Because He loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength" Deuteronomy 4:37

"...The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the people on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. But the Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous then other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a might hand and redeemed you ...Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep his commands." Deuteronomy 7:6-10

"There in the presence of the Lord you God, you and your family shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord, your God has blessed you." Deuteronomy 12:7

"...the Lord your God loves you." Deuteronomy 23:5

And from the Gospel of John
John 16:27
"...the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God." John 16:27

This morning there was more snow. The sky was the same color as the snow. The sunrise colors are gone. But the love of God remains and warms my heart.

May the beautiful dawning of God's everlasting love brighten your day, much as it did mine. He is near you when you pray. He has redeemed you. He has made a covenant to keep loving you. You are His treasured possession.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My Turn to be Thrilled

Last week we had three days of this kind of weather. The kids were thrilled. They got in some good playing.
The neighbor cows weren't as thrilled, but they followed their farmer anyway. He had somehow stirred/plowed up the snow in a small field so that the cows cold find some grass.
I had to deal with this mess numerous times as the kids came in for replacement socks and gloves. I am glad there is vinyl flooring and not carpet by the back door

But then a big warm front pushed strong south winds into our valley. On Sunday you could see the snow melting off the fields and up the hills as the wind shook and rattled the house and mama's nerves.

But now it is my turn to be thrilled, for there is sunshine and blue sky among the scattered clouds, and I got to eat my breakfast out on the deck in a short sleeved cotton dress and I was just as warm as when I was in the house. (I drank a lemon drop smoothie). The air is around 60 degrees, but the warmth seems to gather on our deck so it felt like it was around 70 degrees. Oh that sun feels so good.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday - kid's clothes

The week of Thanks giving I did a huge amount of sewing, but I was too busy to blog about it.
For Emily Rose I made a pinafore and bonnet to match the green gingham dress that I made for her a while back. The pinafore is longer then I expected, so I need to take some tucks to shorten it so the green will show at the bottom.
There has been brown horse fabric waiting (for a couple years?) in my stash for when I could make her some horse pants and vest. I managed to make these without Emily Rose knowing it. She was really surprised and quite happy.

After making Forest the seal shirt I wrote about a couple weeks ago, I made him some matching tan pants. Then I saw there was still some fabric of each color left. I thought I might be able to make a pieced seal shirt for him. So I set so work: a seal back, tan arms, tan hat, the front was pieced from both fabrics with a seal pocket. There was a little more seal fabric left, so I cut out the seal faces and patched the knees on the pants, and backside where a pocket might have been, and on the ears of the hood.

This is how much fabric was left over. This was a really fun three for the price of two deals.

I also hemmed the sleeves of a knit sweater. You can see the tutorial I wrote about it here.

Shorten Sweater Sleeves

Have you ever bought a sweater, only to find that the sleeves are too long? You push them up, tuck them under, but they never work quite right. Sweater sleeves are almost always too long for me, so in the past I haven't worn very many sweaters. I've wondered how one could shorten them, had some ideas on how I could shorten them, but wasn't brave enough to try it, lest I ruin a perfectly good sweater. I've gotten my courage up this winter though, with all the reconstruction I've been doing of other clothes. I started with a second hand store sweater, that I liked, in case it turned out right. But that I didn't like so much that I would cry if it didn't work.
1. First I tucked under the sleeves, while wearing the sweater, adjusting them until they were just the length I wanted wanted them to be. I pinned them at that length, and then removed the sweater.2. Using an adjustable sewing ruler, I measured 1 inch from the fold, and cut off the excess.3. Remove the pins. Take it to the sewing machine and zig zag the raw edge. Be careful to not stretch the edge. After it is stitched, fold the sleeve back up one inch, then fold the stitched edge under and re-pin.
4. Thread a needle and hand stitch the hem closed.
5. Enjoy wearing your sweater with sleeves just the right size.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Tea Party Birthday for Emily Rose

Emily Rose is so blessed to have another birthday. We are so blessed to have her.

Here are some of the highlights from the birthday party.

Each girl wore a pretty dress and the apron we gave her. They brought their mother and a favorite doll or stuffed animal.
CeCe the kitten was the butler Forest was her assistant. They answered the door and politely invited the ladies into the parlor. CeCe was also the "doll" that Forest brought to the party. Even though Forest isn't a girl, he is part of the family, and got to take part in the party. He even consented to dress nicely for the occasion, though he couldn't understand why he should.

CeCe sat very nicely with some of the dolls and stuffed animals to get her photo taken. while we went off to play the first game of the party called Halt. I found it at a wonderful web site full of themed games for children's tea parties. It was an alphebet game where you had to think of items in five catagories that starated with a certain letter of the alphabet. We chose categories sligtly different then those suggested by the web site to fit the interests of the girls: flower, fruit, color, place, song. You earn points for having an answer different from other people.Next we played Musical Teddy Chairs, with directions on the same web site. Instead of the children sitting on the chairs, the doll or stuffed animal sat on the chairs. CeCe cooperated and did a good job as Forest's teddy cat.

The third game we played was a relay race with little bowls of beads. You hold your doll with one hand, and scoop beads onto a spoon with the other hand. You move the beads to a bowl on the finish line, then give the spoon to the next player on your team. It took four moms to keep up with the spilled beads that had to be moved back to the starting line bowls.
We had two crafts. One was to cut out an old fashioned paper doll and her dress. I thought it was appropriate that she was holding a doll in her arm.
The other was to make sachets.Each child put some lilac scented potpourri into little squares of purple sparkle netting that was secured with ribbon. They got to take home their own sachet to sweetly scent their drawers.
Then it was time for tea. Each girl was so sweet and polite at the table without being reminded. There was a place card for each person. Everyone had a different pretty tea cup to sip herbal tea or fresh apple cider if they preferred. The tea was my homemade blend with spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, chamomile, nettle, red raspberry and hibiscus, Emily Rose tried to choose a tea cup for each person that they would especially enjoy. We served delicious Thumb-print Almond Date Cookies, a platter of red grapes and Mandarin orange sections, and cucumber slices topped with Sunflower Almond Pate'.

The birthday mini cupcakes were a success. They are called Impossibly Delicious Gluten Free/ Vegan Cupcakes. We only put 1/3 of the sugar in the frosting and they were delicious. We flavored both the cup cakes and the frosting with orange extract. What a yummy treat. They have more oil, sugar and processed foods in them then we normally use, but I guess I call it the birthday exception.

Happy Birthday, Emily Rose. It's a joy to be your mother!

Sunflower Almond Pate'

Sunflower Almond Pate'

1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup almonds
1 clove raw garlic
1 /4 raw onion, chunks
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, cut in large pieces
1 carrot cut in small pieces
1 tsp raw ginger, grated or minced
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive or flax oil
1 - 2 tsp dried basil

Whiz in your Vita Mix or other strong blender (or maybe food processor) until very smooth, almost fluffy. This will take some work, because there isn't much liquid. Use an accent decorator, or large frosting tip to squirt some pate' onto a slice of cucumber. The tiniest size of ice cream scoop also works, but isn't quite as pretty. Make a lot of these because they go really fast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In Memory of Hunter

Two days ago our neighbor called to tell us that they found our big kitty, Hunter, dead in the road. Oh, there has been so much sadness in our house. Emily Rose and Hunter were such good friends. She faithfully made sure that he had food and water. She got to see him be born. He came to her when she called. He would sit beside her and knead his paws on her leg. If she was laying on the floor, he would wuzzle her hair and purr. He was such a loving comfort for her on hard days, but now he is buried and her heart has been broken. Tears flowed freely for hours. In August we got a new kitten, and she is Forest's best friend. When we first got her, Hunter would have nothing to do with her. He hissed at her occasionally, but never hurt her. Eventually they started sniffing noses. And then less then a week before he died, they were finally friends and we found them sleeping together. CeCe has lost a friend too.

To keep our memories of Hunter fresh, I thought I would share some photos from his life.

Hunter as a newborn in June 2004 with his mother Windy and his siblings, (left to right) Muffin, Licorice, Gravy Cake, Hunter, and Stripes.
The kittens on their first adventure in the yard when they were about four weeks old. We set up a play fence for them, and they had a wonderful time. Hunter is the second kitten from the left, eagerly looking out from the middle.
With a little help from Emily Rose, Hunter got to climb a tree for the first time. As Hunter grew older, he started becoming more independent. He liked to sleep on the top shelf in the garage with the camping supplies. Fearless Forest devised a way to visit him one day. Hunter was king of the garden path, terror of the local rodents, and rival of the neighbor cat, Pokey. But he was a gentle as could be with his people. He loved a good prowl, and a good nap.

And here he is last Christmas Eve. As the Christmas song says, "Sleep in heavenly peace", Hunter.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Drink Your Greens - Lemon Drop Smoothie

If I don't make a definite effort to keep getting greens into my body every day, it is easy to forget. There are lots of good foods which are fine to eat, but they don't have as many important nutrients as greens. I can really feel it in my body when I eat more greens. And if I start forgetting, I start to suffer. Before I started eating them all the time, I really didn't know how much they could help a person. But now I know they are the most important thing a person could eat.

So, to help us all start eating greens more, I'm going to post a favorite green recipe. It may look green, but it is a fresh vibrant green. And it doesn't taste green at all. My husband has named it "Lemon Drop Smoothie". Because that is what it tastes like.

Lemon Drop Smoothie

2 - 3 large Fuji apples or other sweet apples, washed, cored, cut in large chunks
1 - 2 cups of cold water
1 large handful of washed fresh parsley
3 - 8 leaves of romaine or other dark greens
1/4 of a washed lemon, flesh and skin, minus the seeds (The skin is important. It is what makes it taste like a lemon drop. It is full of nutrients.)

Place it all in your blender jar and whiz it until it is smooth. A Vita Mix can get away with less water. A regular blender will need more water, and it will help if the apples and lemon is cut in smaller pieces. Pour into elegant glasses and enjoy the best breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack you could ever drink. Serves 4