Friday, October 28, 2011

Snow in October?

Yup, that's what the weather man is saying. Snow. In. October. Well, we've got the wood stacked for a glorious fire in the living room and I've got a little project going in the sewing room. You can see a snapshot of it above. 

I bought some beautiful linen for 50% off this week. It feels divine. I just love this crucifix, too. It's so streamlined and simple. I may have to get a few more. I'd love to have it on a necklace.

This little prayer quilt is going to be simple, to accentuate the crucifix. Mostly it will be machine embroidery. I may add some beads to it as well. I'm guessing I'll have a snowy afternoon to work on it tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He Gives Us Help

I am often awake in the middle of the night. Something or other wakes me and I lay in bed and, well, often worry. I've worried about the boys, money, work, school, etc. Everything is always worse at 2 a.m. when there is little you can do about it. One of my remedies for this late night worrying-insomnia is the Rosary. If I am to be completely honest (which I tend to be) I'll have to admit that I still don't have the Apostles creed memorized. So, at 2 a.m. I either skip it or say what I remember. And then, to be really, totally, completely honest (which, if you know me well, you already know I am sort of compelled to be) I can't always remember all of the mysteries. So, sometimes I make up new ones! If you know your Bible it isn't too hard. My memory has never been my strong suit. 

But.....I'm digressing.

So the other night I was awake and decided to say the Joyful mysteries (which are my favorites). I was thinking about the hardships in my life and how I've been really trying to make amends with them. I got to thinking about Mary and how hard it must have been for her (that was during the 1st Joyful mystery....the Annunciation). To be young and pregnant and unmarried and then, on top of that, to tell you fiance' it was God's child! Yup, that's got to be difficult. But I knew that Mary was a faith filled woman. She trusted in her Lord. 

On about that time I moved on to the 2nd Joyful mystery, the Visitation. During that decade I was thinking about Mary and Elizabeth. Usually we think about Mary going to help her cousin and we focus on Elizabeth's exclamation and the baby leaping in her womb. What occurred to me on that late, late night was that 

God provided Mary with someone who completely understood His plan for her life and was supportive of her 

at a time when she surely must have needed it most. I have always loved the visitation. To think of the older and younger women, glowing with pregnancy and joy and sharing their hopes for the future. What never occurred to me before was that Mary must have needed Elizabeth just as much as Elizabeth needed Mary.

Isn't this what we all need? And surely, if God provided it for Mary, this was His template for all of us. That when we are facing hardships we need to reach out to those people who understand us, who support us, who love us.

I am thankful for the several friends in my life who I can count on in this way. I hope you know who you are. I'm meeting one of you on Saturday. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for doing the will of God. For me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Something I Didn't Know I Needed

Until it went away. I need a "space." You must remember that Mike gives music lessons out of our living room. When the weather is warm and the sun shines until 7 or 8 at night it really isn't too much of an issue. We live in our sunroom. We also had the basement as a place of refuge. And I could escape into the sewing room.  If you've read my blog for the past month, you know that we had flooding in our basement and had to move everything out and into other areas of our small house. I packed up my sewing equipment and supplies, we moved extra furniture and a plethora of other things into the sunroom and the tv and wii are now in our bedroom. The basement is in the process of being torn apart so it can be dry locked and repaired.
I tried setting up my sewing machine and supplies in several places in our house. Nothing felt right to me. It just felt messy and awkward and in the way. I'm a person who gets stressed out by clutter and stuff sitting around. I mean REALLY STRESSED. So I just put away the sewing. I thought it would be ok.

Now that we can't use the sunroom as it gets too cold and dark at night, after dinner and homework, the boys are generally upstairs reading, computing or wii-ing (is this a word?). I had no where to go. So I went to bed. It was 8:30. 

Today I was cleaning up the house (remember how I told you clutter makes me stressed?) and it occurred to me that perhaps we could share the sewing room. I did some mental calculations and re-arrangements and thought about the furniture we had in the house. About 30 minutes later I had all of my sewing paraphernalia out of the bedroom closet and in the sewing room. I can't tell you the relief I felt.

Now I can start thinking about more sewing projects!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's finally arrived!

The broccoli that is! After several months of squishing green caterpillars we've got some florets. Now, when to pick it??????

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Theatre (sounds more important if you spell it this way)

One thing my whole family enjoys: good theater. We are blessed to have a wonderfully beautiful theater in our little city. We can't afford tickets too often and the pay-what-you-will day doesn't always fit into our schedule. When I saw they were doing Gaslight I knew we had to get there somehow. Fortunately, I was able to use a promotion to get the tickets for quite a bit off the regular price. Mind you, they were still quite salty. It was worth it. If you've never seen Gaslight, I highly recommend it. I saw the movie a long time ago and never forgot how exciting it was to watch this old thriller. 

This is just starting our month of local high school plays. Nolan is also trying out for a musical in November. He is definitely a child who has theater in his blood. We are trying to expose both the kids to this kind of art since it is one thing we all enjoy. We're hoping Nolan will get involved in the performing arts in High School. We certainly experience his dramatic moves on a daily basis!

All in all it was a wonderful but busy weekend. I hope yours was equally as enjoyable.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Living the Moment

I've always loved seeing mushroom on a tree like this. I like to think they are stairs for little gnomes who live in the trees.
Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking. For so much of a mother's life, we think and plan and work for the good of our family. I think we often forget that we are part of that family. We give of ourselves without asking for much back. We forget, however, that if we feel depleted, we have little left to give. The family is then unbalanced.

When I was home, I was able to find a little time for myself. Or rather, being a homemaker fulfilled me. Now that Mike is home and I am working, my sense of identity has really been shaken. I'm searching for it.

So I think I'm on a journey of some sort. Perhaps all people who have such drastic changes go through this type of self reflection. 

One thing I've come to slowly realize is that I need to be more mindful of every moment. The little pleasures in my day like the shape of the clouds as I drive to work, the birds who gather in our yard as I eat my lunch, the snatches of small talk I have with my teens as we drive here or there. I am striving to enjoy them all. To take my time as I sweep the floor or tear out basement walls. Really, to be thankful.

To live a life of gratitude with joy is my aim. It may be the hardest goal I've set for myself. I think in the journey I'll discover myself again. 

What will you discover today?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Annunciation Catholic Church

Last week on a gloriously beautiful day I had the great fortune of traveling to Williamsport. It is in one of the 30 counties we cover at the Central PA Chapter of the MS Society. I had only been to Williamsport one other time for a baseball game and thought it would be nice to walk through the town if I ever got the chance. Well, I got the chance and had my sweet husband with me. Not knowing anything about the town we parked and attempted to walk through the downtown area. We quickly realized we weren't exactly downtown, but found a lovely historic district called Millionaire's Row. I only wish I had had my camera with me. Fortunately, I did have my iPod. Unfortunately, the photo's aren't the best but you can get the general idea. 
 We passed by so many beautiful building and what seemed like a church on every corner. We came upon this beautiful Catholic Church. It is part of St. Joseph the Worker Parish and is the Annunciation Catholic Church. I was sure the doors would be locked but much to our amazement, they were not! Words can not describe the beauty of this church. What a gift that such a magnificent structure is open to all for prayer!
I'm always glad to see when a church has kept their original altar and railings.
The stained glass was magnificent but hard to capture with my iPod.
Even the priest's chair is marble!
Soothing water was flowing out of this baptismal font.
I always like to see the St. Veronica Station of the Cross. She is my patron saint.
I loved these windows.
Mike had to take a peek into the choir loft. He's our church organist so the organ has special meaning for him.
More beautiful windows. They had an interesting mixture of windows about the Saints, Joseph, Jesus and Mary and these pictorial windows.
If you ever get to Williamsport, I recommend a walk down Millionaire's Row and a peaceful stop for prayer at Annunciation Church. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beautiful Day for a Hike

The creek bed along our hike. It was a beautiful day.
Nathan poses for a shot. He received a hair cut after this hike!
Nolan always has to find a way to get to the middle of the creek.
A very rare shot of me, taken by Nolan.
Finally something that sparked Nathan's interest: A wooly bear caterpillar. 
The men enjoying the wooly bear at the lookout.
It was a wonderful few hours out of doors. We realize we need more of this in our busy lives. Of course, it helps when the weather cooperates, which is hasn't much this fall. Happy Tuesday. I'm off to work.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Days

 In the past few years I've taken my camera to fewer and fewer places. I'm not exactly sure why. One of the reasons may be that my boys don't really prefer to have their photo taken and when I do take some shots of them, them tend to look glum. It hasn't made for the most enjoyable photography so I guess I just stopped trying. Of course, then we need pictures for something and can't find any recent ones. So, I'm trying to be more thoughtful about these teenage years.

Yesterday we went to Landis Valley Harvest Days. Landis Valley is a wonderful hands on history museum that is less than 5 miles from our house. The boys pass by every day on the school bus but I think we've only been there one other time. They do have a children's museum called Hands on House which we frequented many, many times when the boys were young. It was a gorgeous, sunny, fall day and Mike and I were determined to get outside as a family. Harvest Days seems a perfect opportunity.
The shoe maker stand was unmanned when we stopped by. I wish we could have learned about this trade. You can see a few of the tools and the start of some shoes in this photo. There were lots of little tools that we had questions about. 
 This was one of my favorite exhibits: dying. The brown scarf was dyed using different types of mushrooms and the blue was dyed with indigo. Apparently, to dye with indigo one thing that has to happen is for the oxygen to be taken out of the dye bath. They told me the chemical they use to do that (which I can't remember). I asked how this was done originally and was told "little boys urine." I'm not joking! We had a good time wondering how they determined this method. When the yarn or fabric comes out of the dye bath it is actually green. It turns blue when it re-oxidizes. Pretty wild, huh?
 Here she is stirring the pot of red that had some wool yarn being dyed. It takes only a few minutes in the dye bath. She informed us that it is better to dye something several times to get a darker color than to leave it in too long.
 I was really surprised at how vibrant the colors were. I didn't realize how brightly things would dye using these methods. Goes to show you how little I know!
 Of course, the amount of time that it takes to make the dye and to get the colors you want is unbelievable. We take so much for granted.
 The boys had wandered off during my extended visit with the dye ladies. I guess I can't blame them. They are standing next to the spring house, A.K.A. old fashioned refrigerator.
 Here was another amazing craftsman. He was making hickory brooms. They are made from one log. To make a large broom takes about 80 hours. I asked who would have made these and he said it was often the job of the children. Making brooms isn't difficult once you know how to handle a knife and it was a job that was preferred to being out in the fields because it wasn't nearly as labor intensive.
 Here is Nolan checking out the finished products. I'm not sure I'd like a round broom myself but it was fascinating to hear about how they were made.
 Nolan checks out the PA Dutch kitchen. I didn't think to take a photo of the outdoor bake oven and the bread and cookies that we tasted. The museum has summer and winter institutes where you can learn more about the arts like hearth baking and fraktur painting. I think I may check into taking one of the classes.
 Nathan agrees to pose for a shot in front of the hearth.
 This man was showing us the labor intensive method of making linen thread out of flax. Here is the second step, breaking apart the flax stems (?) to get at the fibers inside. The first step was getting all of the seed pods off the flax. These pods were opened to reveal the flax seeds. The seeds were used to replant the next years harvest, for linseed oil and for eating.
 Here he's showing the fibers within the flax.
 There were several more steps that included some really medieval looking tools! There were many steps to getting the fibers out of the flax. After that they would be spun into thread which could then be woven into linen to make a shirt. It required quite a huge field of flax to make a shirt. No wonder old houses have such little or non existent closets. If it took that long to make the fabric, who would want a lot of clothes!
 This was a plant in one of the gardens we walked through. I don't know what it is called but I like the way it looks. It was interesting to note that the gardens were all raised beds. Even back then they knew that it was better to grow things in soil that isn't compacted.
 Of course I had to include a shot of the quilt in the frame. There were women quilting in another area but they weren't very friendly. One of the women was making beautiful cathedral window blocks, though.
 Here was another garden we walked through. Landis Valley has a heirloom seed project that I wanted to find more about. I'd like to use heirloom varieties in my garden next year if I can.
 The blacksmith is always fun to watch. We weren't clear about what he was making.
And finally at the end of the day we found the musicians. This man with the waxed mustache was playing all my favorite songs. I wanted to jump in and sing along.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sewing a Goodbye

Here's my stacked coins quilt top. The coins don't match up. As long as you don't lay the quilt out straight you can't tell. Oh my.

Sewing always gives me time to think. What I've been thinking is that I'm not sure my sewing has any purpose and is taking up time, money and space in my life and my house. So I've made some hard decisions. I've decided to give up my sewing room for good to the computer. There is just no good reason to keep sewing. I've got no one who wants my quilts and my kids are too old to make things for. Nolan even told me today that if he was in a play or musical he didn't care if I helped with costumes. It just didn't matter to him. I guess that made me realize that I have other more important things to do.

So, I'm going to try to use up my stash. I'll make baby quilts and put them away for the odd baby that comes along. When the stash is low I'll give it to Lancaster Creative Reuse. The boxes will be gone and my sewing room will be rededicated to school work and Mike's music. It is right, it is good. 

I doubt this blog will last beyond the boxes of fabric. I'll share my last few quilts here and I'll be glad that I've spent the last few years chronicling our life in this way. I guess every mother has her moment when her life changes and she has to give up who she thought she was. It's hard to say goodbye to yourself but I guess that's an important part of mothering....knowing when it's time to say goodbye to the person you thought you were and taking on the role that others need from you.

Slice and Dice

Here's my friday night/saturday morning project. I've decided to make a stacked coins quilt (or maybe even two). It's a fairly simple quilt that uses up a lot of stash fabric. I'm really looking to decrease the boxes of "stuff" around here and decided to dedicate my current sewing to that end. 

We've had quite a month of school with Nolan. It's been challenging for him to be thrown into a new school in the 8th grade after being homeschooled for several years. I wanted to give him (and me) a break this weekend so we worked diligently last night to get all of his homework finished. I cut rectangles while helping him and got up this morning to cut more. 

Nathan and Mike are at a cross country meet and Nolan and I are heading out to market. After that I'm planning some more dedicated time to cutting and sewing. I'm really looking forward to this relaxing weekend. 

I hope yours is peaceful as well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mobile Sewing Room

Here's my current sewing room. We like to call it the living room, too. I can't even believe I'm actually feeling whiney about having to cart my fabric around the house. Many people don't have a dedicated sewing space. It's just that when one is used to having everything set up and ready to go, it is an adjustment to have to dig through boxes for fabric and kneel on the floor to use my cutting board. Oh, poor, poor me! (Note: the reason for all the boxes is because we had a flooded basement and the computer etc. needed a new sewing room.)

Now I'm done with the pity party. I'm actually very excited about this weekend. It's supposed to be beautiful all weekend and we all have Monday off. So I'm hoping to get all the homework done tonight so we can enjoy the weekend unencumbered by thoughts of school and work.

I'm also hoping to get a bit of sewing done. I spent last night purging my extraneous sewing notions and patterns. I do this every so often and it does feel good. We have quite a pile for the Goodwill in our dinning room. Another project for this weekend! My hope is to make a quilt or at least get the top started. I've had this fabulous cowboy fabric in my stash for quite a while and I'd like to use it this weekend. I'm still trying to decide if I want to use it as the backing for a quilt or if I want to cut it up and piece it somehow. I'll be thinking on that today at work. I am on the road and so will have some thinking time.

Have a happy Friday, all. Be thankful for at least one thing today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

St. Therese Prayer Quilt

St. Therese prayer quilt made with ribbon embroidered rose buds and just a smidgen of patchwork. Medal, of course, bought from Gardens of Grace. It's for sale in my etsy shop.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gardens of Grace a lovely shop full of gorgeous recast Catholic medals by Alice Cantrell. I think of the blogs I have read over the years, Alice's (A Number of Things) has been one of my favorites. Her artwork is so peaceful and joyful and full of the good things in the home and garden. I've always been amazed at anyone who can draw and paint, as I cannot do either, and anyone who is accomplished with watercolor is beyond amazing to me. Alice, of course, is a watercolorist. Wow.

Ok, enough gushing, although I didn't even get to the part where I talk about her little books
Yesterday I received my package of medals. In my last post I mentioned that I used the money from my Tau wedding gift quilt to purchase some medals from Alice. I decided to work on a St. Therese quilt first. Coincidentally, today is her feast day. If you don't know about St. Therese and her 'little way' just click on the link. She really is one of the great saints of our time with such a simple message. We can all do something small to make a great difference. It is good to remember when we see the grand accomplishments of others and start to believe we have little to show.

I have to admit I sometimes feel this way. 

So, St. Therese reminds me that it isn't always the big grand things that we do in life, it can also be the small that make a difference. So, today, pray for someone you know is hurting, read a book to your child, clean something cheerfully, be grateful for all that has been given you, even if those things include stink bugs and cat hair. Remember, if you have stink bugs in your home, it means you have a place to call your own. If you have cat hair on your furniture, you have a pet to keep you company. So rejoice and do something little.

I'm off to work on my quilt......
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