Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Thoughtful Pause

I am in a valley of decision about my blog. I am glad I've learned about blogging. "Blog" is no longer a strange word to me. I have enjoyed writing about the daily things in my life. I have been inspired by other women's blogs. But now it is clear I am spending too much time on my computer, and I'm not happy about that. I'm also not sure, if I were to keep writing a blog, what the content of my blog should be. I feel it should be so much more then just the reporting of all that is new or cute or fun at our house. I love things of beauty, but so much of this world is going to pass away. If I should take the time to write, I am feeling impressed that it should be uplifting, enlightening, encouraging, inspiring, leading my reader to God. But I'm not sure how to do that. So I'm thinking about it and praying about it while I take a break from blogging. There have been several things I could have written about this week, but I didn't feel they are not worthy of the time it would take away from other things. I'll let you know when I know when I am more clear about how God would desire for me to spend my time.

Thank you to my faithful readers for their patience and prayers.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Joy

Friday, September 21, 2007

Birthday Tea for my Friends

My friend Julie and I set up a birthday tea for our two friends, Sandy and Sunny. Linda came to join us too. We choose a fall theme, and I really enjoyed it. Each person got to choose from an assortment of teas. We served fall fruits, melon balls made by Emily Rose, grapes and fresh plums from the tree. We also had raisin sunflower balls made by a nearby bakery, Snikerdoodles from the store, and coconut date balls made by Emily Rose. Everything was gluten and dairy free and delicious. Everyone enjoyed the party so much. I hope we can find a reason to have another one soon.

Sew Crafty Friday - apron and bag


This was a busy week, but I still fit in some sewing, because two of my dear friends were having a birthday, and I wanted to give them something special.


Sandy decorates her kitchen with strawberries, so I wanted to make her a strawberry apron. I copied an apron that I have and came up with this pretty apron. I was happy with how the red bias tape accented the center panel and the pockets, which I made deeper and roomier then the ones in the original apron. It only took one yard of fabric.


Sunny loves her kitties. One of her kitties was recently laid to rest due disease. It was very heartbreaking to see him sick. I wanted to make her a special kitty bag. I have been reading a blog by Tiny Happy, who makes wonderful hand crafted items. I got the idea for the design of the bag from her.
I lined the inside of the bag with another fabric and sewed in a deep pocket to hold treasures.

If you have been sewing or crafting this week, be sure to include some photos in your blog. Then go to Shereen's blog and include your name on the list of those who are participating in Sew Crafty Friday this week.

Kayaking

This week has been going so fast. I haven't had time to stop and write about it. Since I wrote last, we have spend a weekend up at a church camp with my husband's co-workers. It was a time of refreshment in the lovely fall weather. There was heartfelt singing. Various faculty members shared the touching testimonies of God in their life during worship services. The afternoons were free for us to enjoy as we pleased. A friend and I sat out on the lawn and had a wonderful talk in the sunshine. My husband took the children over to the canoe dock. There were some little Kayaks there. Forest jumped in one and took off paddling as naturally as if he had done it all his life. My husband was a little worried, that I might not like him going off into the lake by himself, so he called me on the radio so I could come over and see what was going on. For some reason I wasn't worried though when I saw how he was handling his little boat. He had on a life jacket, and he can swim now. He was by the shore when I got there, and I called to him, expected him to want me to see what he was doing, but he didn't give me more then a glance, he was so absorbed in his new found skill. I am really proud of my big boy.On Sunday morning after breakfast and loading up the car, we took the kids back out to the lake for one more paddle. I had never kayaked before, but thought that if Forest could do it, so could I. So I squeezed myself into one of the little boats since I'm not that much bigger then some kids and gave it a try. Oh may, it was fun and not scary at all! I really enjoyed my time on the water. I did get all wet from the dripping paddle, so I think that next time I might wear some rain pants so I can stay dry. Emily Rose finally came out when she saw Mama having fun, but I think she still likes horseback riding better.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday - Alaska Quilt

I am so excited to show you the quilt I've been working on for three years! I started on it just after we made a six week trip to Alaska, so I call it my Alaska quilt. It is a wall quilt size, maybe around 3 by 4 feet. I got the original pattern and some of the fabrics at a garage sale. I chose a few other fabrics and put it all together, using some iron on stuff to hold on the appliqu├ęs. Then I blanket stitched around each applique. The part that took me so long was hand quilting the whole thing. I don't have much time at home to hand quilt. I've taken it with me all kinds of places. I sit and quilt while the kids are at swimming lessons or other kinds of places I have to wait for them. I've quilted on long car trips. It was really fun to finish the quilting and trim off the extra batting and backing. I can't believe I've really accomplished this much. Now all I have to do is cut some binding and stitch it on. And that won't take me too long, once I've chosen some fabric for it. Many family members have wanted it, but I think it is going to get a place of honor on my newly painted walls, where the color fits in perfectly.



You can see more of what people have done for Sew Crafty Friday at http://w8ng4him.blogspot.com/. It's fun. Maybe next week you can show what you have been working on.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Would I buy this today?

We have a terrible time at our house getting rid of unneeded items that take up space and clutter up the house. Both my husband and I are descendants of keepers. If we didn't have a determination to live differently, we too would be piled under with items that we wouldn't be able to find when we finally needed it someday. To help stem the tide of clutter, we had a garage sale yesterday. It was a lot of work, but it gave me the motivation to sort through some cupboards and figure out what we didn't really need. I didn't have enough time to clean everything as completely as I would have liked, but quite a few boxes and bags made it out of the house.

The sale went well. Many customers came by and went away with something they could use. All the while though I wondered what I would do with the things they didn't buy. I was concerned that the remains would make their way back to the house.

I was tired when things were done, but knew I'd better get things cleaned up right away. I started putting things in boxes wondering if I should keep items or not. Then the perfect question came to mind to help me. If I were shopping at a garage sale myself and saw this item (and I didn't have one already), would I buy it today? I was so excited because I could say no on almost every item. It helped me to know that I did not need those items! I felt freed. And I think this simple question is going to help me de-clutter even more around the house.

Almost everything left from the sale is going to be donated to a second hand store, where the right person will be sure to find it, although they will have to pay much more then they would have had to pay at my garage sale.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Pleasant and Comfortable Place

"The glow of the sunset was shining through the front door of the cabin. There was Ma in her brown calico dress and blue apron, busy at her spinning wheel. Jim was sitting on a a log stool at her feet while Ma taught him his A B C's. Sally, on another stool, was busy with her patchwork and singing softly as she worked."

"That morning Tom had been too much excited to notice what a pleasant and comfortable place the cabin really was. There was a big room and a little room, with a door in the wall between. The rest of the wall was taken up with the great fireplace made of cobblestones plastered together." Taken from Singing Wheels - The Alice and Jerry Books. 1950 edition, page 83 - 84

This morning I started reading in this book as it was lying by my place at the breakfast table. I remember these books being around when I was a kid, and must have read some of them, because I was thrilled when I found this copy at a garage sale. It is a reader, but it is written like a chapter book about a boy’s adventures on the frontier.

Something special struck me about this story though, as I was reading the description of their home and what they were doing. Scenes like the one written above warm my heart and make me long for simpler days. Then I looked at the picture that went with the story and wanted to be there. What is it about stories like this that are so wonderful? I looked closely at the picture, then saw how uncomfortable their chairs might be, how plain the walls, how cold the floor. The house was not up to modern comfort levels, yet it sounded so wonderful.

They had so little but they seemed to appreciate it, and they also seemed to really enjoy being together. Maybe that is the difference. Maybe it is all in how I think about something. I wonder if there are some “pleasant and comfortable” things about my own home that I am just not noticing. Maybe I spend too much time thinking about what is not quite right and overlooking all the things that are wonderful. Maybe like the boy Tom in the story I’m just too “excited” or busy every morning to see the beautiful story of our life. I wonder how an Emily Rose and Forest storybook would read, if I took the time to write it. Maybe there are things of beauty closer then I realize, if I would just open my eyes.

“The warm evening light poured through the blinds into the tidy living room. Mama was wearing a comfortable brown skirt and her pretty red, white and blue apron while busily typing an entry for her blog. Emily Rose sat beside her searching online for better instructions on how to build a three wheeled cart, with the parts she already has. Forest was looking at a picture book about animals, while Father tried to find bugs in his software program. Quiet music played softly in the background. Everyone was happy to be home, and happy to be together.”

“Earlier that day Mama was too consumed with her morning responsibilities to notice what a pleasant and comfortable place her home really was. There was padded seats for everyone, colorfully painted walls, pictures and photographs and pretty shelves with lovely things upon which to rest the eyes. There was a 100 year old piano with keys that still made lovely music if you cared to sit on it’s bench. Quilts and soft fleece blankets graced the arms of the couch…”
- The Story of Emily Rose and Forest, a book not yet written

How would your story read? Of course, I didn't write about the whining that happened about cleaning up the kitchen, or the mess of dirt and shoes by the front door, or the kid's frustrated outbursts during school. The writer of the Alice and Jerry Books didn't either. But I think she is on to something. Sure we are a real family. So were the families living in cabins on the frontier of America. Books about them often leave out the harder realities of living without any conveniences. But they do write about the joys of living then, the special times, the funny stories, the things that make life worth living. And those are the things I want to think about, the things that make home "a pleasant and comfortable place to be."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of School 2007

We started our school year yesterday with pictures by the schoolhouse door.Emily Rose is in 5th grade this year. She was reluctant to start, but confessed later in the evening that school was fun after all. She is so good with words, reading them, spelling them and using them.

Forest is in 2nd grade. It is clear he has progressed so much since the beginning of last year. He learned enough last year and matured so much over the summer that we can really take off now and learn and do lots of things. His mind is hungry for more information, and we are going to try to fill it. I think he is going to thrive in science and history.

My kids are so much fun. They made me promise to take a funny picture of them too if I took pictures of them by themselves. It is a blessing to be able to able to work with them and teach them every day. My prayer for them is that they will grow as Jesus did, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Rising Golden Light

Last week the sun rose in the east with golden light playing among the clouds.

Two days later the moon rose in almost the same place filled with a brilliant golden glow.


"But for you
who revere my name,
the Sun of Righteousness
will rise
with healing in its wings.
And you will
go out and leap
like calves released from the stall."
Malachi 4:2

"Submit to God and be at peace with Him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Accept instruction from His mouth
and lay up His words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored;
If you remove wickedness far from your tent
and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
then the Almighty will be your gold,
and the choicest silver for you."
Job 23:21-25

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Remodeling Assignments

I have been busy the last few days with no time to blog. Last week I remodeled our main bathroom in the house. It is a tiny one, but it has taken a lot of work. I put in new flooring, and repainted. I've ordered a new light and have a curtain to make before I am done. I'll tell you more about it when it is closer to being completely finished.

I've also been working making lesson plans for my 5th grader. I am going to try having her assignments listed on the computer, which she can check off when she is finished. I found some free software at www.macupdate.com for Macs which looks like it is going to work real well. It is called Schoolhouse 2. It looks like it was made for high school or college students to record their assignments. But I think it is going to work really well for us too. I would like it to be able to have more then one students assignments on there, but at the moment, I don't need my son's assignments as carefully recorded. My daughter can check a box when the assignment is finished and it will line it out for her. There are numerous different ways to view an assignment. I can add a grade if I wish. I think it is going to be fun. I've just finished typing in her assignments for the next 1 - 2 months. I am hoping this will free me up to give my 2nd grade son some more focused attention with his schoolwork. We will be starting school tomorrow.