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Posts Tagged ‘heritage’

Decided to start this year off right, with a pan of gooey, sticky cinnamon rolls.  It is a new year, and time for some new beginnings.  New traditions, more fun, and less rules.

I have really missed writing here, and want to resume.  However, I will be taking a new rout this year.  I am no longer focusing on pretty pictures or deep thoughts.  I am not going to kick myself for sharing the nitty gritty of everyday life.  My goal is to find beauty in the everyday things.  Today, it was the joy of my family as they consumed these rolls.  It was the butter and syrup bubbling all around them, as they cooked.  It was Daniel, joyfully dancing around with his first loaf of bread, proudly sharing it with everyone.  These are the beautiful things.   What are the beautiful things in your life?

* * * * *

To make these rolls, I melted 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan, poured in some corn syrup and sprinkled on some pecans.  Then  rolled a batch of Hop Yeast Bread dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle, buttered it, sprinkled on cinnamon and sugar, then rolled it up into an 18″ long log.  Sliced the rolls and placed them in the pan to rise.  They were baked for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  To serve, dump pan upside down onto a sheet of waxed paper and scrap all the gooey topping onto the rolls.  Eat while still warm.

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I am so tired of working on Christmas projects and all the other necessary things, that today, I decided to make Gideon another pair of little pants. 

I contemplated what design to use, while cleaning the bathrooms, and soon decided a little pair of cargo camouflage pants would be adorable and comfortable for him.  So, as soon as my cleaning was done, I hauled out my camouflage fabric.  It is kept in an old bread sack, the same one my mother put it in when they came home from vacation (probably their tenth anniversary) with Army Surplus finds.  Ahhh… good memories.

I knew there was two twill prints in the bag, but found something else, I don’t recall seeing last time we made something camo:  a nylon camouflage fabric and a pattern.  It is the pattern my dad made when he made our tent, and the nylon is the leftover fabric!

I have so many memories of that tent…

  • Hauling it across the pasture, to set up for an evening of pretending. 
  • Roasting marshmallows with friends.
  • Eating MRE’s and drinking hot cocoa, just for fun.
  • Sleeping out, under the stars (and freezing our keisters).
  • Simply loving the fact that we had a tent of our own.

I have contemplated making my children a tent, but have been too lazy to draft a pattern.  Now I won’t have too.  Lets see…

I’ll need 11 yards of nylon, some 3/4″ black flex pipe, and a bit of 5/8″ dowel … and I am remembering that there is a wall tent, out of canvas, waiting to be sewn.  Maybe I’d better do that first, as not to disappoint my husband (he wants his own tent too, you know).

I am ecstatic to have found this pattern!  My dad made many patterns, but most were for furniture or machines, which he also built. (Dressers, a china cabinet, an entertainment system, a 3′ wide drum sander, a saw mill… the list goes on.)   He made his own patterns, not because patterns weren’t available, but because they were not just what he wanted; and sometime, because it was just easier! 

I like the way he wrote all the instructions and requirements directly on the pattern.  I’m sure they would have been lost long ago, if they had been separate.

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Now, back to making pants… see you tomorrow!

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the Bismarck, a World War II, German ship
the Bismarck, a World War II, German ship

When teaching history to children, you can inform them of names, dates and empires, insisting they memorize this important information from the past, or, you can do as my mother did, and whet their appetites towards learning.  Long before my siblings and I were old enough to understand that there was a time before us, that our grandparents were once children, or that the world is much bigger than the area we had traveled, she was teaching us the names and stories of important leaders and explorers.  We learned to respect Winston Churchill, Jim Bridger, Abraham Lincoln and the pioneers, before we knew what ‘history’ was.  She did this first and foremost with songs.  Songs of bravery.  Songs of valor.  She also read true stories aloud.  She took us to museums.  She sang while she worked, and told related stories while we canned or washed dishes.

When we first encountered these names, coming from text books, we were all ears.  We could not wait to hear more of these hero’s, who had so long danced before our minds eye.  From there, we were eager to find out more about their world.  We wanted to know about the times they lived in, the wars they fought and the people they lead.  We wanted to know about their enemies, and whether they should be considered friend or foe, today.  History was real and alive.

Because of Johny Horton, we learned about the Bismarck, and Churchill’s triumph.  We learned of Johny Reb, the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln playing Dixie once more.  We learned of General Washington, and the victories he won; of Jim Bridger, and the lands he helped to tame.  We learned of Yellow Stone, and the Indian tribes that roamed the plains. [All of the links above have excellent related pictures.]

Laura Ingalls told us about the pioneer days, and settling the plains.  The hardships and the joys were hers to share.  We talked to the elderly in our community, and learned what it took to build a town.  We learned about steam engines, from an old man who had driven them, in his younger years.  We learned about one-room school houses from those who were educated in them. 

Our love of horses was used to teach us about the Pony Express, the breeds from other lands, and native customs.  These studies lead to studying the automobile, the industrial age, medieval times, and the Roman Empire.  We learned of the steel millionaires, and the great fire in Chicago.  About labor laws and the formation of unions.

One of my Grandfather’s was a World War II army veteran.  He told us about the Battle of the Bulge, where he was injured, and D-day, where he scaled cliffs on the shores of Normandy.  He also told us about the folk’s back home, and how hard it was for a farm boy to become a soldier, as growing food was so essential to keeping the country healthy and the war efforts going.  Songs like Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, The Marine Hymn, and Coming in on A Wing and A Prayer, taught us about the social norms of the time. 

C. W. McCall introduced us to other social issues and historical items, such as the Silverton train, in Colorado.  John Cash and others like him, told us about the Vietnam War, and the disrespect the veterans of that war suffered. 

I could go on and on about the things we learned, beginning with unlikely sources.  However, instead of boring you, I want to challenge you.  Challenge you to introduce your children to something of value today.  Sing with them.  Read to them.  Take them to the nursing home, where some children of the pioneers still live.  Make history come alive!

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It is said that if you read to your children when they are young, they will be better readers when they are of school age.  I am no expert, but my experience is that frequently reading aloud to the children has created a love of books, and a love of learning.  When they ask questions that I cannot answer, I turn to books.  When they need to calm down, I turn to books. 

They are learning that books are pleasant, and that learning is pleasant. The little ones look at books, and tell each other stories, long before they know their letters.  They are learning about people, and how to read expressions and emotions in others. They realize that reading is a desirable skill, and therefore willingly apply themselves to learning. 

Besides reading to them, my husband and I also read to ourselves frequently.  We read for both knowledge and pleasure.  The boys know this.  They see us studying new ideas, researching topics of interest, and learning new things.  They see us researching things we don’t know or that are new to us, and looking at various sides of an issue.  We, by doing this, are demonstrating how to learn.  We are also demonstrating that learning never ends.  There will never be a time when we are out of ‘school.’

I think this is one of the biggest advantages to home schooling.   Learning is not confined to set hours, days or places.  Really, that is true for everyone; you cannot contain learning to a classroom. However, as I child, I remember thinking that the only ‘real’ learning I did, was in a class room, with a certified teacher.  When my parents made the decision to home school, I was sceptical.  Could they really teach me?  It only took about a day to find out that my parents were very capable teachers; and in fact, had been teaching me my whole life.

My dad read books and manuals every evening, advancing his carpentry skill, his understanding of motors, and his ability to design.  During the day, he applied these skills, as he kept our cars running, built buildings, and improved the homestead.  He remolded our home, and the homes of others.  He was the first person our neighbors called on, when they needed to do their own home repair.  I first learned fractions, at four years of age, while helping him fix cars.  I learned to pound nails, while framing walls.

My mother tackled different things.  She learned different teaching methods, especially as it applied to teaching dyslexic children.  She then taught these things at home schooling conferences.  She studied state home schooling laws, and was active in teaching others how to comply with them.  It was not unusual for State Senators to visit her, in order to better understand the needs of homeschoolers, and to discuss how to insure that children were learning when they were not in a public school.  They brought concerns of the State to her, for ideas on how to address the situation of the homeless and transients, who claimed to be home schooling, but seem more intent on avoiding authority.

Without reading, my parents would not have been able to help others, the way they did.  If they had limited their education to what they received in classrooms and seminars, then they would not have been able learn the thing they really wanted to know.  Neither was able to afford the education they desired, but both learned what they needed to know, in order to achieve their dreams.  Once we were grown and gone from home, my mother was hired by the local public school, to start a tutoring program.  She was then contacted about helping out with troubled students.  At times she has tutored within the public school.  At other times, students have lived with my parents, getting a ‘home’ education. 

Reading is the core of education; writing is the natural outcropping of reading.  Without the ability to read, one can only advance so far in their education.  Without the ability to write, one can only share their ideas with so many.  It is crucial that children learn these basic skills, and to that end, read to them.  Teach them to love books, by loving them yourself.  Teach them to learn, by learning yourself.  Let them see you tackling new things, even if it just the rules to a new board game.  Use what is available to you. The Internet, encyclopedias, and your local library are all wonderful resources.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find what you are looking for the first time.  Look some more, and share the adventure with your children.

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an afghan for Tyger

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Making an afghan was never on my list of ‘things I want to do someday,’ actually it was on my list of ‘things never to do.’  Then Tyger came along, and suddenly, my mind was filled with memories of the afghan my grandmother made for me.  How my sisters and I loved to use our afghans, carefully folding them each morning, and placing them at the foot of our beds.  How they were essential to keeping warm in our drafty bedroom, and the comfort they brought when we traveled.

When she was an infant, she had plenty of warm blankets, so I put the idea aside; but, as her second birthday approached, the idea came back.  When shopping, two months ago, I found yarn in colors that just screamed, “Tyger.”  I promptly bought them (the lavender and cream), and brought them home, planning to make her some lacy creation that would forever be delicate, charming and feminine. 

I chose a pattern from a book passed down to me by my grandmother, one she had used to make my parents a wedding gift, and set to work.  It was beautiful, soft and charming, but all wrong.  Nothing about it said ‘Tyger.’  I persisted, thinking maybe enough of the pattern was not showing, by the more I worked, the more I knew it was wrong.  Finally I set it aside, and let my imagination take over.

A gartered boarder came to mind, then Norwegian flowers (those are not snowflakes); after that I pictured a long expanse of cream, then lavender…I do not know what will come next, but I have a feeling there will be a picture in the middle, then the boarders will repeat.  Symmetry seems to be very important.

Before ripping the lacy beginnings out, I conferred with her mom…she told me that she had planned a Scandinavian theme for her daughter, based on her husbands heritage.  How cool is that?  God is faithful to guide, even when I forget to ask.

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. 

-Psalm 16:3

 

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poverty

Do you have money in your pocket, in a dish somewhere and in a banking account?  Then you are amongst the top 10% of the world’s wealthy.

Poverty. 

It is a catch word in our society, but what does it really mean?  To some, it means that they don’t have everything they want.  To others, it means they can’t provide certain thing that they consider necessary.  For me, poverty means you have virtually nothing and no way to get more or do better in life, by your own means.  There are people all over the world in this situation, and those of us who can, should do take the steps necessary to help them. 

  • Simple measures, such as buying free trade products and boycotting slavery will make a difference.  We will never make everyone rich…”For ye have the poor always with you;” -Matthew 26:11. 
  • However, that does not mean that we shouldn’t do what we can to help those who are in need.  “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” -Proverbs 19:17 
  • God says of the virtuous woman “She stretcheth out her hand tot he poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” -Proverbs 31:20.  I believe this is why Mother Theresa and Princes Dianna have been so honored.  They are/were truly virtuous women.

There is another group that I believe it is very important to reach out to:  Widows and the fatherless.  Throughout the Word, God often tells of His special care for such.  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” -James 1:27  The Bible only mentions single parents in this context, and therefore I will limit my comments to widows and the  fatherless.  I personally only know one young widow and fatherless child.  She has my empathy and support.  Our home has always been open to her son, though we see less and less of him as he becomes a man.  Older widows ought not be forgotten.  Even if they have enough money they are often lonely.

So what about the rest of those in “poverty”? 

I think attitude makes all the difference.

I grew up below the poverty line, but never knew it:  My parents worked hard, and provided abundantly.  Though we never had name brand clothing or new cars, and the house we lived in was old, we always had food and health insurance.  I got a top notch education from my mother, who home schooled my three siblings and me.  I went to college, and graduated debt free.

My parents not only provided a home and education for my sibling and me, they gave us the tools to do well in life.  All of us have been small business owners.  I ran a Child-care service for five years, until my husband decided we no longer needed the income.  My brother ran a scrap-metal business until recently, when he was offered two different jobs that both appealed to him.  One sister, and her husband own a roofing company, while another supports her family teaching dance and cleaning houses.  Considering that I am the only one who lives in an area not greatly affected by the current economical crunch, I would say we are all very blessed.

So how did my parents achieve this? 

  • First, they had a good attitude. 

They took responsibility for their choices.  I never heard them complain about what they could not buy, and frequently saw them giving to others. 

Yesterday, this topic came up when I was talking to my dad.  He told me of a time, when we children were small, that he read an article written by a southerner on welfare.  The article told how little welfare paid, and how hard it was for this single woman to make ends meet living on it.  At the time, Dad had figured out what she made, and compared it to what he made.  She made more.  Yet, who was happy?

  • Second, they did not spend on impulse or habits. 

At one time they had some friends who were always broke.  Their house was in need of much repair, as was their car.  My dad did much to help them, including hang drywall throughout their upstairs, turning it into a usable living area, and building the man a professional green house, so he could improve his landscaping business.  After all this, the family was still broke.  You see, the father smoked about two packs a day.  They had a different car every few years.  Their children always had new clothing, and something was always on lay-a-way at Wal-Mart.  My dad often used this family as an example for us, to teach us about handling money wisely.

  • Third, they worked hard and made do.

My mom always grew a large garden, putting up gallons of spaghetti sauce, pickles, corn, beans and many other things.  She made much of our clothing and Christmas gifts.  She decorated with natural objects, keeping things for years.  Dad farmed and took odd jobs when needed.  He carefully bought equipment, and ran several part time business.  Most of his tools were old, but he kept them in good repair, and used them as long as there was a market to do so.  His biggest fault was that he often undersold himself.

In my own life:

 The first year my husband and I were married, we made $6,000.  That was it.  We did not have health insurance that first year, and my husband was injured, unable to work.  We lived in a tent for the summer, having been blessed enough to get a job hosting a camp-ground in the national forest.  This made it possible for us to save enough to get into an apartment that fall.  I waitressed and also worked as a seamstress at a dry-cleaners.  By Christmas, my husband could walk again.

The second year, he worked and we had our first child.  We made health insurance a priority, and our son’s birth was paid for before he was a year old.  During that time we lived in a 16’x20′ log cabin and then a park-model trailer. 

While we were living in the trailer, we made friends with an older couple, who helped us out, and gave us good advise.  She had been widowed at a young age, and despite working four jobs, had still needed to frequent soup kitchens to feed her teen-age sons.  She always said, don’t thank me, just pass it along.  At the time I never thought that would be possible, but I was wrong.  We lived as frugally as we could, and little by little we escaped “poverty.” 

We are blessed to be able to “pass it along,”  and make giving a priority.  Even when we had very little money, we gave, volunteering our time when ever possible.  “The liberal soul shall be made fat:  and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” -Proverbs 11:25.  “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” -Luke 6:38.

God has seen fit to bless us.

This post was written in response to Blog Action Day 08.

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a trio of dishcloths

In keeping with my October goal, I finished this trio of knitted dishcloths for mother-in-law, #1.  (Yes, I am one of those lucky women, with two mother-in-laws.)  There will be more that goes into the gift, of course, but this is what I have done for now.

The black cloth is a design of my creation.  I do not like it in black, the way I like it in the multi coloured yarn with which I designed it, but it works.  The next cloth is the “Knitted Textured Dishcloths (Ombre)” pattern, found on the back of the Peaches and Creme, 100% Cotton label. I do not like this pattern for dishcloths, as it is one sided (non-reversible), however, I think it would make a lovely hand towel.  It is very soft and comfortable.  The off-white cloth knit diagonally, a pattern my grandmother taught me when I was first learning to knit.  It is very simple, yet produces elegant results.

It was dishcloths, like these that first sparked my interest in knitting.  My grandmother would give them as Christmas gifts, almost every year.  These, and her hot pads, were favorites amongst all of my relatives.  She would be working on them, all summer long…at the pool, while we swam; at the park, while we played; but never around the adults who would receive them.  When Autumn came around, she would turn her attention to afghans and stockings.

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