Monday, October 29, 2007

A Box of Free Books

Wow! And Thanks! Was all I could say.

I didn't know yesterday was going to be such a good garage sale day! I was actually on my way to a second hand store when I saw a garage sale sign. We stopped and found some nice goodies, like Christmas decoration kits, and alunch bag full of rick rack for $2. But the most amazing deal was in the bedroom. One wall was lined with boxes of books, and the sign above them said they were free. I didn't see the sign until I had a mostly full box. I would have been willing to pay for them, but instead I took them home for free. They feel like a real blessing! The books to the right of the box were found at a couple other garage sales for regular garage sale prices. All together they are a great addition to our library. I am so thrilled to have good books at home for our children to read whenever they need to sit down with a good book.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Come and Reflect a While

I don't know what is happening in your life today, good or bad. But I do know that there is no better time to stop hurrying around, sit down in a quiet place and spend some time alone with God. Time alone with God, T.A.G. Time, is so important, because the Christian life is not based on what you know or have achieved, but rather on who you know. Jesus wants a personal relationship with those He has come to save.

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3 NIV

There is no better way to know someone then to spend time with him. And the more time you spend with someone, the more they are reflected in your life.

If you have been forgetting your T.A.G. time. Here is a simple way to get started again.

1. Start with heartfelt prayer, talking honestly with God about your life.

2. Read one chapter or passage out of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, or another part of the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover the answer to these two questions as you read. Write your answers in journal or notebook. Look for more then just the right answer. Sit and be quiet long enough to hear what God is telling you in His Word.
  • What does this passage teach me about Jesus?
  • What is the principle found in this passage that God is calling me to apply today to my life?
3. Pray again and allow the power of God's Word to start transforming you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday - bags and a dress

I have done some sewing this week.
I've made some tote bags from garage sale fabric. I just love the batiks. But I have already discovered that I am going to have to make stronger handles for that bag. The strawberry bag reminds me of my friend that loves strawberries.

I finished a bag made with a pattern from Lazy girl Designs. (Go to their web site and then scroll down to see more about this bag, including a blog entry and a video). It is their Gracie Handbag #118. The directions are good and it makes a nice bag. I am seeing if I like it as my everyday purse. I like the color and design, but I am used to using something as small as possible, so I might need to make a different one for every day.

I finished a green gingham dress for Emily Rose. Now I need to make the pinafore and bonnet that goes with it. It is McCall's 9424. I actually made a good start on the pinafore with some white fabric I got from some unremembered location. I had some misgivings about the quality as the fabric as I started, but tried to push them aside. As I got farther into the pattern, those misgivings grew. It was clear it was not quality fabric as it was starting to sort of pill. I didn't know woven cotton would do that. After I got the facings all in and tried it on Emily Rose, I decided that it was not worth the effort. I am going to pull out some better white fabric and make it nice. She may not wear it much, but when she does wear it, it shouldn't look worn already.

I have a huge pile of projects to work on now, so I should be able to keep posting for Sew Crafty Friday for the next several months. If you want to see what others are doing, or post what you are doing, go to Shereen's blog.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fall Exploration Field Trip

Yesterday was a perfect fall day. We just couldn't spend the morning inside. There likely wouldn't be many more morning like this before the weather changes and turn cold. So I declared the day a fall exploration field trip day. We went to a nearby town where I knew there were some old houses and lovely large trees near a scenic college campus with a pretty little stream and trail.

Every where we turned vivid colors delighted our eyes. We had a wonderful time wandering down quiet streets and playing by the stream. The goal was to go enjoy the day and to create a sketch or poem to take home with us to remember the day.

Forest spied this fountain as we were first driving into the area. He knew that this was the thing he was going to sketch. He wanted to stop there first, but I knew we would see nothing else if we started there. But we did come back to the area later much to his delight.
After playing in the fountain a bit he set right to work and drew his fountain. Big college kids walked by and he didn't notice them at all. He was very focused.

Emily Rose took her journal over to the nearby steps and soon was writing poetry. Many students clearly wondered what she was doing there, but she didn't seem to see them. I was hoping to write poetry myself on a bench by the stream but didn't want to move my earnest students. So I set aside self consciousness and sat down and wrote too. It was a lovely day.

You may read the poetry of Emily Rose at her blog:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sir Henry's Birthday Cake

So how do you make a gluten free, dairy free, food as grown, birthday cheese cake? It isn't easy, but we came up with a delicious one for Sir Henry's birthday.

I found the recipe in "The Complete Book of Raw Food: Healthy Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine Made with living Foods" Lori Baird, Editor.

Just Like Cheesecake
By Emily Lee Angell
Makes 24 slivers

I will type out the original recipe for you just as written, but will tell you that I decreased the amount of coconut oil in the cheese like filling to only 1/3 cup. Coconut oil is said to have some good health benefits. Even though it is called a saturated fat, it isn't the same thing as factory processed hydrogenated fats, but it is processed some, so my husband would rather not eat much. Even with the reduced coconut oil it was delicious, and a very satisfying treat. I didn't add the salt and didn't miss it one bit.

One cheese cake I made with lemon juice as suggested, and the second one I made with orange juice, and it was very delicious.

I made the raspberry sauce as suggested, but froze it with the rest of the cake, as the top layer. It turned out very lovely.

For the crust:

2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup dried coconut

For the cheese:
3 cups chopped cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)

For raspberry sauce:
1 bag frozen raspberries
1/2 cup dates

To make the crust, process the macadamia nuts and dates in the food processor.
Sprinkle dried coconut onto the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Press crust onto the coconut. this will prevent it from sticking.
To make the cheese, blend the cashews, lemon, honey, gently warmed coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt (if using), and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth and adjust to taste.
Pour the mixture onto the crust. Remove air bubbles by tapping the pan on a table.
Place in a freezer until firm. Remove the whole cake from the pan while frozen and place on a serving platter. Defrost in a refrigerator.
To make the raspberry sauce, process raspberries and dates in a food processor until well blended. (Do not use a blender for this or the raspberry seeds will become like sand.)

Happy Birthday, Sir Henry

Last night we had a birthday party for my dear husband, Sir Henry. It wasn't a milestone year we were celebrating, but rather the fact that we are thrilled and thankful that he is here to have a birthday. Some of you may remember that last January, at the age of 46 he experienced a heart attack. You can read about it here. It was a shock to us, because he was having no noticeable symptoms before hand. He is young and active, riding his bike to work every day. We really were eating a good diet. He doesn't smoke or have diabetes.
It wasn't a good thing, but as he says, "It has turned out to be a blessing in disguise." Right after he got out of the hospital, he was able to get into the Coronary Health Improvement Program (CHIP). We were already eating a diet similar or better to what they recommended. My husband felt that they were trying to present a sort of middle of the road diet that would help most people who eat the standard American diet (SAD). But he needed something better, because we were already doing many of the recommended things. So he paid careful attention to the research presented looking not for the comfortable middle of the road, but rather the optimum diet for his life and health.

His final conclusion is simple: Eat no processed foods; foods that you buy in a box or a can. They were optimized for profit and not for health. Eat out of the produce and bulk foods section of the store. Food (fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes), as it is grown, is best for the health of the whole body. It prevents and reverses disease of all kinds.

So for that last nine months that is how we have been trying to eat. It hasn't always been easy, especially when on vacation or eating with other people. Several times I have found my self rebelling and longing for French Fries, Ketchup, and ice cream. And there have been a few times when the kids and I have had something he wouldn't eat. But I don't want to do that all the time and sabotage his success.

I am in whole hearted support of my husband. I am so proud of him for not being like so many other Americans and refusing to change diet and lifestyle. I am so glad he was willing to search out what he needed to do and was willing to give up many of his favorite foods, because they were processed or high in fat. The cardiologist said there was nothing he could do, that he was already doing all the right things. But my husband wasn't going to give up on life and just let himself waste away.

In the last 9 months he has lost quite a bit of excess weight. He says his stamina has increased, because he can ride his bike up a particular steep hill in a higher gear and at a faster speed then ever before.

The kids and I are just so thankful. Life would have been so different now, if things during his heart attack had turned out differently. One out three heart attack victims don't survive. But he did, and because of his determination to do what is needed, I think we are going to have him around for many more years.

Happy Birthday, Sir Henry!
You are loved.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thank you to Commenters

I want to say thank you to all my readers for your comments. I really enjoy hearing what you have to say. And it helps me to know that I am not just writing for myself. You ladies are wonderful and I just wanted you to know it. I appreciate you.

The ninth comment just came in on the entry I wrote called "Pretty Prairie Rose Dress". I've never had so many comments on one entry. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fabric Reconstruction

Clothing reconstruction. Clothing remodeling. Alterations. I don't know what you call it, but I'm getting quite excited about it. In the fall and winter I love to wear cotton knit skirts made out of higher quality fabric then I can't get at the two fabric stories in my town. My solution is shopping at the second hand stores. I get so excited about this because I love to keep something from going to waste that I can reuse. I disagree strongly with the prices in the department stores for clothing. And I find myself disagreeing with modern styles pretty strongly too. I'm not ready to sign a pledge to not buy anything new like the ladies Wardrobe Refashion are doing here. I will buy something new if it's a reasonable price and I really do need it and can't get it another way within the needed amount of time. For example tee shirts, turtle necks, sweaters. They put them out early in the season, and once they are gone in your size and color, they are gone. If I see something like that in a color that is good for me, I do buy it, and then wear it for years. By doing this, I am gradually making a collection of clothing that fits my style and fall coloring.

But back to the idea of clothing reconstruction. I go to the second hand store looking for something that would work for me in my size or larger. I found the above outfit on the 75% off clearance rack at a consignment store. Yipee! The skirt and matching jacket cost me a little more then $3! The tee shirt was already in my drawer. The problem was that the skirt and jacket were too big for me. I'm sure the lady at the counter was wondering why I was buying it. But how could pass up a cotton knit skirt that was going to be so comfortable. I wasn't sure how the jacket was going to turn out, but I was ready to give it a try at that price. If it didn't work, I knew it wouldn't be a waste, because I would also gain experience and knowledge about what I could do. On the skirt I took in the waist, side seams, and hem. I just pinned up the sides with it on me, wrong side out. Then sewed it up, and zig-zagged the raw edges. Then my husband helped me pin up the hem and it wasn't long until that was done.

The jacket turned out to be easy. I just took in the seams 1 inch on each side from hem all the way to the hem of the sleeves, zig-zagged, trimmed the excess and was done.

Monday afternoon I met a girlfriend at a second hand store, and we had a good time looking for things that fit, or things that we could work over. I came home with a flannel tiered skirt in reds, greens and black that just needed a hem. I fixed that this morning, and it is already to go. I found a lovely navy blue cotton knit skirt that needs to be shortened. I don't wear a lot of navy, but do have some sweaters that would go nicely with it. I also found a deep red corduroy jacket with flowers and navy colored leaves, but the sleeves are way too long and I will have to take in the sides. It is going to be really fun to wear brand names that I can't, or don't want to afford at a fraction of the price.

Do any of the rest of you do any fabric construction or reconstruction? Would you like to but just haven't got brave enough? Let me know what you think.

Blog changes

My kids reminded me that it is no longer spring, and that maybe I should give my blog a new look. I actually agreed that I was ready for something new, but how do I do it? I started changing things one at a time, using the same blogger template. And now I have something new, though I don't know if I really like it. I'd love to a have a textured background, but I don't know how to do it. I see people out in blog land do amazing things to their blog, but I don't know a thing about how to do that. But I do have a collection of photos I've taken over the last few years, so I suppose I can change them with the seasons, or when I get tired of a gold background. If anyone knows a of a website or book that can teach me more of what I can do, in a simple way, I'd be thrilled

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday-Slipper Socks and Dress

It is already Sew Crafty Friday. Since I haven't been on my computer as much this week, I have got some more things done. Though I have to say that the list of blogs I read in bloglines is addicting, I am pulling myself away more often.

Yesterday afternoon I made three pair of slipper booties. The pattern came from The Green Pepper Inc. I found it at the local J*Anns store. It is pattern number F837.
As you can see, it has sizes for tiny children up to Men's size 13 all in one envelope! I found the directions very clear and easy to follow. In about 1 1/2 hours I had opened the envelope, figured out what I was doing, then cut and sewed three pair of slipper socks. And now that I know what I am doing, I think I could make quite a few more really fast. There are only three pieces and four sewing steps. I would recommend this pattern to even a beginner. I had never made anything from this company before, but look forward to trying other patterns in the future.

In other sewing this week I finished a prairie type dress for my daughter. If you haven't read about it yet you can see pictures here, information about the pattern and a story of answered prayer here. And on this page you can read that I was able to make the needed adjustments so that it fit her nicely now.

Thanks to Shereen at Waiting for Him for hosting Sew Crafty Friday. If you have done something creative this week, put a link on her blog so we can go see.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why I Cook Gluten Free

VJ had another question for me.

"Excuse me for being so dense about gluten, but why are you staying away from it? My family loves the gluten steaks I make. Is there a nutritional something-or-other I'm missing or is someone in your family allergic?"

My answer is that yes, both my kids and I are gluten intolerant. We are much healthier and happier without it. We used to love gluten steaks too, and homemade whole wheat bread, and oatmeal, and crackers and pasta, etc. It takes some adjustment to change. It isn't convenient to eat with other people. But I'm glad I've made the change. I've learned that there are many delicious grains that don't have gluten in them. I've learned that I was really overeating wheat products and not eating very many fruits and veggies in proportion. It has helped me stop eating junk food, and I'm very happy for that. Being overweight is no longer a struggle for me. My weight has gone down to what it should be without having to try, something that I'd never been able to achieve before.

So that is the reasons my recipes use different grains. A person who isn't sensitive to gluten may not want to eat exactly as I do, but maybe they would. It is fun to try new ingredients, especially when they too are delicious and nutritious.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And the Good News Is...

I spent some time yesterday afternoon and this afternoon working over the sleeve and shoulder area of the dress I just made for Emily Rose. I wasn't sure if it would work out, but the good news is that it fits now. There are two seams in the sleeve to make it more fitted around the elbow. It is also a princess line dress that has a seam in the front and the back curving up into the sleeve hole in about the same place as the two seams in the sleeves. Even though I had zig-zaged and trimmed, there was still a little bit I could take out of each seam, and I reduced the seam allowance in the sleeve hole as much as I could which gave a little bit more room across the back. I tried it on my daughter just to be sure and was so relieved that it was going to work. Then I zig-zaged up those tiny seam allowances once again. The next step would have been to try to figure out how to put in a gusset, as La Tea Dah suggested, but I'm glad I didn't have to, as I've never made one before.

I would have loved to be a Home Economics major in college, but just after I got to the college of my choice, they closed the Home Economics department. I only got two of the sewing classes I desired. I'd still love to take some more clothing construction classes, but it seems they are hard to find anywhere now days. And I'd really like to learn to sew like they do in Asia, just from a magazine photo and some measurements. Lately it seems I am doing more clothing reconstruction, but I'll blog more about that at another time. I've been on the computer more then I should today.

Pattern Review Butterick B4569 and a Story

VJ said...

What was the name of the pattern you used, and the pattern number if you used one?

That is a good question. It is Butterick B4569.

I thought that since I am writing about the pattern, I should go ahead and give my comments about the pattern. I would not recommend anyone taking it on if they are a beginner. Make sure you are at least at an intermediate level or have someone around with a lot of experience to help you.

The sizing seems to be accurate to the bust measurements, so make sure you measure the child before you choose a size. Pattern sizes are not the same as store sizes.

When you are cutting out your pattern, be sure to mark all the little dots onto the fabric. They are important in several different places. I found that out too late and had some problems figuring out the spacing when it came time to attach the gathered ruffle to the skirt. With some fussing I was able to make it work, but would have taken less time to make the dots then it did to do all the fussing I did.

This is the first time I set myself free from iron on interfacing and I have to say that I am very happy with the results. I used sew in interfacing designed for this weight of fabric and I had not problem using it or sewing it in. I am going to use sew in in the future to avoid the stiffening and sometimes bubbling that comes where the iron interfacing is used.

The pattern called for 11 buttons, but I bought only 9 as their price is so high now days. I spaced them 1 1/2 inches apart and it looks just fine. It seems more buttons would be unnecessary.

The biggest problem with the pattern is that the directions are not clear for how to make the the section at the bottom of the strip of buttons. There is a little bit of information given in the drawings, but no clear written details of how to make it turn out correctly. This is the part of the pattern where you need experience or someone to help you. I figured something out and made it work, but I know that it wasn't how it was intended to be finished.

Still, I like how the dress turned out in the end. It has a flattering, nice cut for a little girl.

My final note is a story. Do you ever pray about sewing frustrations? I don't usually think to do so, but after making this dress, I think I should do it all the time.

A few years ago my husband purchased me a nice new sewing machine with lots of features for quilters. It didn't come with one of those special feet that help you sew a button hole the right size. This pretty little dress comes with 9 - 11 buttons on the front! I was dreading putting in all those button holes and getting them to come out right with just a basic button hole foot. In fact I was downright worried about it. I have done button holes before, but I'm not really good at it, and I have had problems before. I sat the dress aside several days, putting off the dreaded task. Finally this weekend I knew I needed to do it. I was so afraid I decided I'd better pray about it, then I got some scraps to practice on and started trying to make them come out the right size. I was working away wishing for one of those fancy feet for my machine. I even went up to my computer and did a web search to try to figure out how much one might cost. Expensive! So I went back to my machine and started to try again. Then all of a sudden it hit me like sunlight. My old machine, which my daughter is using now, has a nice buttonhole foot with a slider that you insert the button into so that each button hole comes out the same size! And the machine was set up only a few feet from me! I switched machines, then did a couple practice holes which turned out beautifully, and it wasn't long before I was done with all nine holes on the front of the dress. I redid only two of them so they lined up with the others more evenly. My resolve is to pray more often about even my sewing frustrations.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cream of Broccoli Soup and Corn bread (Gluten and Dairy Free)

I know I said I wouldn't blog very much, but I will give you one more thing to read tonight as it won't take me very long to do it.

As fall starts coming on, we start eating more soup. Here is a family favorite served this past Friday evening. It was a simple supper, easy to prepare, and satisfying to eat. As usually, food at our house is gluten and dairy free, and made out of simple ingredients for optimum nutrition and health. But don't let that scare you away, it still tastes really good.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Bring to a boil. Simmer until onions are soft, around 10 minutes:
3 cups of water
1 medium onion diced
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 T Bill’s Chick’nish seasoning or other vegetarian chicken type seasoning
2 T Nutritional Yeast

Once the onion is soft, add:
6 cups more or less of bite sized raw broccoli pieces
1/2 to 1 whole red pepper, diced (optional)
Simmer 5 minutes or until tender but still bright green

Meanwhile blend until very smooth:
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water

Add the blended mixture to the cooked broccoli soup and serve.
Optional: Cooked brown rice is yummy mixed into the soup.

adapted by Elizabeth Joy at


1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup Masa Mixta (usually used for making tortillas)
1 cup brown rice flower
4 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 T. tapioca flour

1 cup water
1 cup rice milk or other desired milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil of choice
1/3 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Get a 9 x 13 inch baking dish oiled and ready to go. Mix the dry ingredients completely. Mix the wet ingredients separately, then combine with the dry ingredients. Stir just enough so it gets completely combined, then quickly pour into your baking dish, before it has a chance to rise much. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Update on 2/19/08: Would you like to make this oil free? I just figured out how to do it. Into your blender place: 1 TBSP flax seeds, and 2 TBSP raw cashews. Substitute 1/3 cup water for the oil, place in the blender along with the 1 cup rice milk and 1 cup water. Blend until smooth and add to the dry ingredients along with the honey.
adapted from a friend's recipe by Elizabeth Joy at

Pretty Prairie Rose Dress

At this point, I've decided not to totally abandon my blog. But I do need to exercise some self control and get more things done then just sitting at my computer.

I decided to show you what I finished today. It is a pretty prairie dress with little pink roses for my daughter. It reminds me of a brown dress with roses that Laura Ingles Wilder said she wore in one of her books, but I can't remember which book it was in. The dress turned out wonderfull, but unfortunately this one has taken me so long to make that the bodice in the shoulder and arm area are too tight to move comfortably. Emily Rose has grown quite a bit over the summer, and alas not much fits her anymore. I'm going to see if I can make some adjustments in the seams to give her more room, but I'm afraid I may have been too confident in zig zagging edges and cutting off extra seams, so I don't know what I'll be able to get away with. If it isn't going to work, I may put it up for sale. Do any of you have a girl who needs such a dress? (24 inch bust.)

I did get Emily Rose into the dress and outside in the sunshine for a few photos. She clearly enjoys it in spite of the restrictions.

Here is a close up of the fabric, buttons and sleeve.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Small Town Living

I just learned about a free online magazine that I think some of you might also enjoy. It is called Small Town Living. It is about living a simpiler life in small town America, with a wide range of topics. I have skimmed the most current issue and look forward to downloading more. You can click on the issue you wish to read, and then download a pdf version to your computer to read.