Monday, September 29, 2008

a treasured masterpiece

this pastel drawing hangs in my home and is one of my most treasured pieces of artwork. the artist is not famous. he never had a showing at a gallery nor sold a painting at a prestigious auction. but this simple drawing is a treasure. it speaks volumes to me about faith, love, and perseverance.

the artist was my gran'dad.

he was an amazing man, overcoming many difficulties as a child. his mother died when he was only 4 years old. and when he was 5 his stepmother, not wanting the burden of caring for him and his sister, put them in an orphanage. he only achieved an 8th grade education before entering the work force. but he lived in a time when hard work could mean more than education. he married the love of his life and they built a wonderful life. he came to know the Lord as an adult, brought to faith by the loving example and testimony of my grandmom. they brought up 3 daughters and had many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

in 1969 he suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. ironically, gran'dad was left handed, but taught in school that it was only correct to write with your right hand. with difficulty he learned to switch. now, he had to relearn to use his left. this pastel drawing was done using his left hand, a kind of therapy for him. so i see in this painting his love of art and the garden; perseverance and optimism. as a child i was always so fascinated with his boxes of pastels and sketch pads. i like to think i got my love of art from him and i pray that when times are tough i will follow his example of perserverance.

everyday gift: gran'dad's legacy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

soccer tournament

playing hard, playing well

long strides going after the ball

a few words of encouragement at half time

everyday gift: a well played game

farmer's daughter

everyday gifts: a ride on dad's tractor and the smell of freshly mowed grass

Friday, September 19, 2008

spinners and weavers

i am fascinated by these spinners of silken threads and weavers of delicate webs. we have this in common. i love to feel the fibers zipping through my fingers changing from fluffy clouds of wool to thin but strong yarns winding onto the bobbin of the spinning wheel. i love to see the pattern emerge on the loom by the repeated passes of the shuttle through the warp threads.


She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands...

In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers...

She makes coverings for her bed;

she is clothed in fine linen and purple...

Proverbs 31:13, 19, 22


have you read all of this passage in proverbs 31? how did this woman find time for it all? ah, go read verse 15, it sheds a little light: servant girls. where are my servant girls?! ;o) i do struggle with measuring up to this woman. but really, one thing i glean from this passage is that i need to be busy serving my family; providing for their basics needs of food, clothing, security. this is my ministry. do i measure up to the perfect woman? no way! but i keep on and rejoice in the role and purpose God has given to me at this time. cloth is woven one thread at a time, back and forth, back and forth. each thread appears insignificant. little progress is made, it seems. like the day to day tasks that i do repeatedly. each glass of juice poured, another meal served, dishes washed, laundry folded...but the tapestry of my family is being woven this way. am i weaving joy into my family with these tasks or am i weaving impatience and discontent? if i am honest, i will tell you that there are both threads in this cloth. but i strive for joy.
everyday gift: spinning yarns and weaving my family's tapestry

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

blending colors

summer days are officially gone. school is in full swing, along with piano lessons, soccer practice, car pooling and those cooler nights that let you know that fall has taken over where summer left off. we are on our busy routine leaving me with less time to sit down at the computer, reflect on life, and put something profound on my blog. but for this morning i will share a few pictures of B busy at work on an art project:

using oil pastels, B is blending colors of horse breeds and coat patterns. i just love it when a project really captures her attention. she worked on this most of the afternoon and proudly showed her progress to her dad when he came home from work. she is becoming a real expert on horse colors and markings, studying the subtle differences between chestnut, red chestnut, and red roan. appaloosa and dappled gray. it is a joy to watch a child learn, motivated and driven by her own interests and passions. of course math and spelling are not always met with the same enthusiasm ;o) , but they are easier to work in when you are spending time in areas that excite and inspire. for B that means anything related to animals and horses, reading and art.
what are the passions and interests of your children? what can you do to provide opportunities to develop those skills, talents, or desires? encourage and support those God-given and unique gifts!
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 God has blessed each individual with unique gifts and a special place in this world.
help them find the way God has planned for them.
everyday gifts: discovering a child's gifts

Sunday, September 14, 2008

birthday surprises

i had several nice surprises this weekend for my birthday! these lovely flowers were a gift from mark's co-worker and his wife who came to visit friday night. and the butterfly emerged from his chrysalis this morning on my birthday! C raised it from a caterpillar for his nature merit badge. we were hoping to watch it happen, but, alas, he came while no one was looking.

everyday gift: beautiful surprises

Friday, September 12, 2008

putting up the harvest

i usually grab a quick a bite of lunch as i make up a plate for B. that way i can sit at the lunch table with her and read another chapter in our book. right now we are reading Thimble Summer by elizabeth enright. she has such an enjoyable style of writing that makes you close your eyes and imagine that you are there. the timing of a chapter we read last week could not have been more perfect. the description of a country kitchen at canning time made me smile, as i was cutting corn off cobs and cutting beans for freezing, thanks to chris and her green thumb!
here is an excerpt from our reading:

The warm air rang with the sound of saw and hammer. While the men worked on the barn Garnet and her mother had their hands full with the house and garden; for now the garden was yielding in all its abundance. It was hard to keep up with it. When you had finished picking all the beans it was time to pick the yellow squashes, shaped like hunting horns. And when you got through with the squash it was time forthe beans again. And then you had to hurry, hurry and gather the bursting ripe tomatoes from the heavy vines, for canning. Then there were beets andcarrots to be attended to; and after that it was time for the beans again.

"Beans never know when to stop!" said Garnet's mother in annoyance.

Corn was picked everyday; and that was pleasant walking in the rustling good-smelling aisles between the stalks. And the watermelons! Big solid green ones that Garnet thumped with a finger to see if they sounded ripe. And every now and then she dropped one on purpose and it would burst open, cold as a glacier and rosy red. Then she would walk homeward dripping and drooling, spitting out black seeds and feeling fine.

And canning! Oh those weeks of harvesting and peeling and preparing apples, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, plums and beans. All day the kitchen smelled like heaven and was filled with steam. The stove was covered with kettles and vats, and upside down on the windowsill stood processions of mason jars full of bright color and hot to the touch.

beautiful beans from chris

i ended up freezing 6 quarts of beans. won't these taste good in the winter when the garden is covered in a blanket of snow?

a meager harvest of roma tomatoes this year, early blight did my tomatoes in. no sauce to can this year, but at least we got a few to enjoy.

everyday gift: the garden's bounty

Thursday, September 11, 2008

roadside garden

B and i took a little nature walk this morning, in between raindrops. we did not go to a park or nature preserve, but just along the road, past the mailboxes of our neighbors, between the gravel of the road on one side and the corn fields almost ready for harvest on the other. along this humble path we found some glorious autumn wildflowers to cut for a vase on our kitchen table. come along with us and see what we found...

woodland sunflower

bushy aster

hitchin' a ride

here's an interesting looking bug! we'll have to check the insect field guide to figure out his name!

who do you suppose lives here?

chinese lantern plant

new england aster

queen anne's lace and chickory

spotted touch-me-not or jewelweed

this unusual flower attracts humming birds.
interestingly, the stem juice is said to relieve poison ivy and treat athlete's foot. science has confirmed that it does have anti-fungal qualities.

thistle and golden rod

the berries and roots of this plant are poisonous. the field guide tells us that the colonist used these berries to make dye and to improve cheap wine. really? poisonous berries will make bad wine better?

B spotted this butterfly in our garden, so we quickly took a picture!

if it rains some more this afternoon, we will stay indoors and draw wildflowers into our nature journals!

everyday gift: a walk in between raindrops

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Little House in the Big Woods

this summer B and i had the nicest time with laura ingalls! before it gets too far behind us, i wanted to post the last pictures of our projects. the one project that we did not accomplish was to sew a rag doll like charlotte. but i have a simple pattern and some muslin set aside. we will have to fit that in when we begin Little House on the Prairie later in the year.
this little log cabin belonged to my dad when he was a boy. (i wish i knew who built it.) i thought it made the perfect bookend to our little house books.

B with Grammy, sharing about her first week of school

B made a corncob doll just like laura's. here is the cob drying and the corn silk for her hair. she decided that the husks did not make a suitable dress for susan, though.

"Laura had only a corncob wrapped in a handkerchief, but it was a good doll. It was named Susan. It wasn't Susan's fault that she was only a corncob.

"For breakfast there were pancakes, and Ma made a pancake man for each one of the children. Ma called each one in turn to bring her plate, and each could stand by the stove and watch, while with the spoonful of batter Ma put on the arms and legs and the head. It was exciting to watch her turn the whole little man over, quickly and carefully, on a hot griddle. When it was done, she put it smoking hot on the plate."

~Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

to see pictures from our special little house trip click on the the 'little house' label.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

thank you, chickens!

oh, i love these colors! i think i will take these eggs to the hardware store, have them mix up some paint to match, and redecorate my, really.
i. am. serious.

everyday gift: pale shades of blue, green, and tawny eggs

Monday, September 8, 2008

apple dip

apple dip
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
beat all ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.

B's apple dip with macintosh apples. yummo!

everyday gift: lickin' the beaters

how to make an apple pie...

and see the world!
one of our very favorite Five in a Row books over the years has been How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. we read it every september when you can smell fall in the air and the apples are ready to pick. this year was extra special since we were picking our own apples. it was so much fun to revisit this unit study that takes you on a wild cross-continental chase looking for all the ingredients for your pie!
some of the resources we are using for our unit study include The Picture Atlas of the World, From Sea to Shining Sea: Vermont, and An Apple a Day by melvin berger. we are learning about johnny appleseed with Folks Call Me Appleseed John by andrew glass and John Chapman: The Man Who Was Johnny Appleseed by carol greene.

of course we made an apple pie!

B made flags for all the countries that were visited in the story and we mapped the journey with red string.

this is a memory game putting the countries and ingredients in order.

we went to the market for vanilla ice cream to top our apple pie...and thankfully it was open! ;o)

everyday gift: apple pie

Saturday, September 6, 2008

dad's apple trees

apples are such a wonderful sign of september, like warm sunny days giving way to evenings that have you reaching for a jacket. i have such fond memories of picking apples as a kid with my family. and i have tried to make it a tradition with our family as well. this year we are picking our own apples!

when we first bought our country property, before the barn was even built, my dad bought us some fruit trees: 2 apple trees, macintosh and red delicious, and 1 cherry tree. what a thoughtful gift! it was hard to know where to plant them then. we didn't have everything mapped out quite yet. but we ended up putting them on the back hill. the only problem is, it was just far enough away from the house to put them out of sight and out of mind, as the saying goes. but the little trees held their own against the tall grass that surrounded them and despite the neglect, they kept on growing.

after a few years we got a few apples. then we had a late spring frost when the apples trees were blossoming and so missed another year of apples. i am ashamed to say that we have not paid much attention to them.

but this year we have a wonderful harvest of apples! look at this bushel of macintosh apples! they are beautiful. the other night mark and B when out to pick, if only i had known, you know i would have been ready with my camera! but that's okay. i do love it that mark will spontaneously take one of the kids and have a special time with them.

i was so surprised when they came in with several large buckets full of apples! B was beaming! and i felt as though i had just received the gift all over again from my dad.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8
everyday gift: september apples from dad

Friday, September 5, 2008

ahem...are your chores done?

eta: i posted this picture because i thought it was really cute, especially with that intent look on her face and those toes! but i am adding a comment because i am struck by the miracle of reading. B's furrowed brow and eyes running down the path of the story, anxious to see what happens around the corner. so much information and meaning jump from symbols on a page to the eye bringing understanding to the mind in a blink. and i can't tell you how it happens. i am in awe of the mind that God has created in each of us, that far surpass our understanding and our computers.

everyday gift: being lost in a book

recipe for a sweater ~ part 3

step three: scour the wool

gather your supplies.

today i am scouring jericho's fleece. he is a shetland with beautiful charcoal colored wool.

shetland wool has a very soft fiber, ideal for sweaters.

after sorting out the unusable portions of the fleece, i place the wool in laundry bags. this makes it easier to manage as it is moved from wash tub to wash tub.

the wool is submerged in piping hot water with dissolved soap, either orvus livestock soap, or original dawn dish washing detergent (other brands do not effectively cut through the wool's lanolin). the temperature of the water should allow you to put your hands in it, but hot enough that you won't leave them there for long. the wool should be submerged gently, without any agitation, and soaked for 10 minutes or so. it is then moved into a fresh tub of soapy water for another soaking. next it goes through several tubs of rinse, soaking about 10 minutes with each step. the water in each tub should be the same temperature. agitation and a quick change in temperature can cause felting.

after you drain and gently squeeze as much as water out of the wool as you can, put the wool, still in the laundry bag into the washing machine and turn it on the spin cycle. you really should do two at a time so you can balance it. then the final drying time on the rack is very short, especially if you have a warm dry day. i bought this nice big drying rack at a yard sale. mark bought the screens i am using at another yard sale after he caught me taking our screens out of our windows to use on my drying rack. he loves to help me out like that! :o)