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Archive for October, 2008

This is the last of my Christmas sewing, for friends and extended family! 

Thanx for cheering for me.

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From the first moment that I stamped this little tea towel with the violet, it called out to be delicatessen.  I pondered, as my plan had been to simply outline it in cheerful colors, using a backstitch; however, it was very apparent that that would not do. 

This little one demanded to be so much more.  The longer I looked at it, the more apparent it became that I had seen this flower before.  Not just the stamp, but the flower itself.  Then I realized that it is very similar to the design on my mother’s best china.  Wow!

When picking this design for my mom, I never thought about her china.  I simply picked something that reminded me of her, though I knew not why.  I guess somethings are deeply buried, and it takes a sassy towel, to bring them out.   

Once I knew the reason it had to be worked in satin stitch, I also knew the colors.  Amazingly, I had the threads and the ribbon, in the exact colors I invisioned using.

Working this up was so much fun.  When I looked at it initially, I was wary.  It had been years since I had pursued anything of the sort, and I was not sure my skills were up to it.  Happily, I was wrong. 

While it is not perfect, there are some changes I would make if I were to do it again, I am satisfied.  Most of all, I know mom will love it.

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critter keeping…

Benjamin loves critters.  Any sort he can catch, and this seems to be known, as he gets more than his share of ‘things.’

Earlier this year, he was given a horny toad, that someone had caught in southern Colorado.  Then he brought home some interesting water critters…they turned out to be mosquito larva.  Oops. They had to go!  Then he brought home this snake. 

I think he had been inspired by stories his dad told, of catching Garter Snakes, as a child, and Rikki Tikki Tavi.  He came home from a hiking trip, and pulled this beauty from his back pack, declaring that it only bit him twice.

We outfitted a box for it with sand, water and flies.  (Yes, they eat flies…at least I don’t need mice around also).  There is a nice guide on snake keeping, in my old Audubon Society Encyclopedia’s, from which we gleaned much usable information.  Snakes hibernate, so with winter coming on, we are watching to see what this snake does.

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…at Christmas!  My order of seeds just arrived.  They feel great.  So alive and vibrant!

I tried hard to judge how much I would need for one year, but it looks like I got a bit carried away.  This should last several years, or I should have much more food to store than I did this year. 

O, but this year was so disappointing…I bought my seeds at K-Mart, Martha Stewart seed.  They did not grow!  I was lucky to get three plants per package. Ha! that is anything but quality! My advice:  Never Ever EVER buy Martha Stewart seeds.  (and “Yes,” I mean to yell. ‘I yell because I care.’)

The things that did well in my garden this year were seed bought on sales in years past, volunteers, and the potato’s were from my ‘no longer edible’ stock.  Hopefully I will be able to say something good about these, come next spring, summer and autumn. 

I truely enjoy gardening, but I do it for the results.

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My goal for the month of October has been to complete all my Christmas shopping and crafting.

October is one week from over, and I am doing well on meeting my gaol.  This is a stack of finished projects.  Completely Finished.  These items have been washed, blocked, and/or ironed.  They are ready to package and give.  This afternoon, or sometime this weekend, I hope to get out my sewing machine to hem some towels, make a pillowcase, and do some mending.

I think the mending is what has been holding me back.  I feel obligated to do it, but wonder if it is really worth the time it takes…oh well…it makes my husband happy. 

When I finish sewing, I will be left with two wash clothes and one dish cloth to knit, two hot-pads to crochet, bread, muffin and cookie mixes to assemble, and candy to make.  I may wait on making the candy until I am ready to mail things out, so that it does not get old; besides, candy making ingredients are usually on sale after Thanks Giving.  I also have a sweaters for my husband and boys under construction… 

I have realized that getting all of my Christmas sewing done this month is a little too much.  The things for my family, that I need to keep hidden are going to take more time.  Another thing I did not account for, when I made this goal, was the two birthdays in November.  I am currently trying to squeeze in some knitting for those, as well.  

I am happy with the progress I have made, but I have a ways to go.  This next week is crunch time…I love a deadline!  …now, to not make it exclusive: to keep up with my chores and duties…  I’ll show the gifts as they are assembled, and packaged to give.

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This little towel, which needs to be hemmed, is my first adventure in black work.  I have always used a variety of colors when embroidering, but this design seemed to beg for simplicity.  I think I will combine this with a black towel, and give it to my mother-in-law.   It will go well with her dish clothes.

Ironically, another linen towel, that I stamped from the same set of transfers, simply calls out for color and trimming.  The colors I envision using on it should make it perfect for my mom…it will go with her best china.  Now, off to find matching ribbon.  There should be some in my stash.

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contentment

I was putting the dishes away, and Gideon was helping.  He had just stacked the little green cup on a jar, and was completely thrilled with himself, when he spied me through the cupboard.  A game of peek-a-boo immediately ensued. 

As we laughed and played, I realized, to my delight, how content I was with my life.  I am happy with my imperfect children, and messy house.  The toy strewn living room attests to life and creativity.  Things that have stressed me out, in the past, are not weighing me down.  I have even been accused of living a cozy life, lately.  Why? Attitude.

Two years ago, I was challenged, by Debi Pearls book, Created to be His Help Meet, to live joyfully.  She suggested a study of the word ‘joy’ in the scriptures, pointing out that men, especially my husband, love a smiling face.

My husband is highly attracted to my smile.  I want my husband to love me.

“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance:

but  by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken”  (Proverbs 15:13).

Being pitiful, hurt, discouraged, and even sickly is one side of a “bad marriage” coin.  Men, in general (your husband in particular), are repulsed by women who project this image.  A man’s spirit tells him his woman is rejecting him and manipulating him when she regularly manifests a broken spirit, and he will react with anger.  The other side of the bad coin includes having a bitter, angry and resentful spirit.(Created to be His Help Meet, p. 33.)

Being someone who has high ideals, and expects perfection out of myself and everyone around me, this was a challenge.  How could I smile, when things weren’t just right?  Imperfection meant I was failing in some manner.  What difference could smiling really make?  What difference would it make in the cleanliness of my home, and my children’s behaviour?  Could it really make my marriage better?

I finished reading the book, and then read it again.  The ideas were taking hold, and my view was slowly changing, as was my face.  

Attitude:

To test out how much my attitude affect how other people treated me, a friend and I did a little experiment.    We carefully watched peoples reactions to us, in the grocery store, as we shopped in our normal manner.  (We did not shop together, but discussed our results on the phone.)  The next time we went, we went with the attitude that people liked us, and that people wanted to be around us.  (Just thinking that puts a smile on my face.)  We both got hit on by men, even with children in tow.  The third time, we went with the attitude that we were not wanted.  It was difficult to get service in the Deli, and no one spoke to us who didn’t have to.  So we repeated that experiment, dressing very nicely, knowing we looked our best, plastering a smiles on, while thinking we were unwanted.  The results were the same…maybe even more so.  Then we redid the happy, every-one-likes-me experiment, but dressed in grungies, as though we had just finished cleaning the bathroom…again, the results were the same.  Attitude made all the difference.

I realized that if my attitude had that much affect on compete strangers, then it definitely affected my husband.  The first thing I did was rearrange my day, so that I had a play time with the children, right before he came home from work.  This lead to a more cheerful attitude all around.  The next thing I changed was my attitude toward work.    I insisted on smiling and working cheerfully, enjoying my work.  I started counting my accomplishments, not the things left to be done (though I still keep a list or two, at all times).

The next thing I did, was to identify what was really frustrating me, and decide what I could do about it.  Here is an excert I wrote at that time:

Do you ever look around yourself, and find that is too perfect, and totally out of place?

I do.  Then today, I realized that though my home looks great, and is everything I imagined my home might be – it is out of place.  This home I have, this life I live, is so suburbia…and I live in the mountains.

I look out the windows, see pines standing tall, peaks fit for skiing–I imagine the log siding and porch swing.  The snow reminds me that firewood should be brought in, and bread baked.  I turn from the window to pump some water for tonight’s soup..and the vision fades.

I am surrounded by modern conveniences and other people’s children [I ran a child-care service at the time].  The open floor plan and synthetic flooring reminds me of my cousin’s home in Aurora, Colorado.  This is the life I thought I would have if I lived in a city.  One of commuting and pay-check to pay check living.

In the mountains, I assumed a life of hard work and minimalism, but  close family and team work.  Storing up in the summer, sewing in the winter.  Gardening and raising animals.

I suppose some I would say I have the best of both worlds – the beauty of the mountains, modern conveniences, and an above average income.  I say I’ve got the worst:  A 70 mile drive to buy supplies.  Families separated by work, and no way to survive, should our world collapse.  I have a city life, with a country drive.  It is fast paced, with far stretches of land.  When will this end?

What about a cabin on the snow line, and a barrel of fish?  A cellar full of preserves and an attic of dry goods?

For about six months, all this was was a complaint list, but slowly, the ideas and ideals began to emerge as something doable.  My husband liked my smile, and he began listening to my ideas.  We began reforming the way we lived.  We installed a wood stove, and when the time was right, we shut down the child-care.

We took charge of our life and our future, doing what we can today, and every day, to be who we really want to be.  We constantly challenge ourselves to be happy with life as it is, and at the same time, not to settle for less than our very best; and, in doing so, push for change.  There is a huge difference between complacency and contentment.

“Not that I speak in respect of want:  for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  -Philippians 4:11

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