Thursday, July 31, 2008

*happy dance!*

*more happy dancing* Okay. I just found out that I've been accepted to participate in First Fridays Florence! It is a music and arts show held the first Friday of every month in downtown Florence. The booths are free, but you have to be accepted first. Even before I started the Etsy shop, this is what I really wanted and have been working toward. *more happy dancing* They actually told me I could come tomorrow night, much to my surprise, but I just don't have enough made up to sell. So I'll be starting September 5. In case you haven't guessed, I'm excited. Now I'd better get busy making some more stuff.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First carrots

We finally pulled up two of our carrots today to see how they are doing. The tops are lovely, tall and green; the carrots are nice, orange and healthy looking; no pest damage. But with tops at least 12" tall, wouldn't you have expected to see a little more from under the ground? I mean, really! I think I like Lydia's perspective better:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy stripes

I've wanted to try this color combination for a while - it just makes me smile. This hat was originally supposed to be for the Etsy shop, but Lydia has hijacked it.

It is made from Lily Sugar 'n Cream in Warm Brown, and Peaches & Cream in Red and in Sea Mist, which is a variegated green, blue and white. I just sort of made up the pattern, rolled edge with your standard decreases at the top. The number of rows in each stripe are the Fibonacci numbers 1-5. With the three yarns alternating in these different width stripes, I think it gives it a great random look without bothering my perfectionist personality. I knit this one in the round, but if I make another one I'll probably make it flat with a seam. Stripes knit in the round are naturally offset when the new color is joined, and there is the aforementioned perfectionist problem...

Friday, July 25, 2008

a toddler's-eye view

Lately Lydia has taken an interest in the camera. She can turn it on, and knows which button to push to take a picture. She usually gets her fingers in front of the lens, and you can't see anything. But when she actually takes a picture, I find it interesting to see what she deems worthy subject matter.

Lizi and Mommy on the porch

Mommy's feet

Lydia's feet

The cat trying to get the camera string

Morning glory leaf in the garden

Cup of milk

Mommy's hand, and she's probably saying "Mommy, can we play Dora?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Squash vine borers, round 2

Hate is a strong word. It is a word that I rarely use, and I try to reserve it for the things that God hates. But this growing season, I have come to realize that I hate squash vine borers. I think I am justified in using the word here, as all manner of disease, and probably pests, are the result of the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world, so therefore God must hate them too.

I have two options here. First, I can get a sharp knife, cut open the stems, and dig the disgusting little varmints out. Then cover the opening with dirt, hope it roots and doesn't die.

Second option, I can just let them go. I did the radical surgery earlier this year when the plants were younger and I feared for their survival. But you know, as long as the vines lay on the ground, they will keep rooting and living above where the borers are feeding. The squash won't be as big, but I'm not planning to enter them in the fair or anything. And I guess I'm just getting less obsessive about my garden these days (or maybe just lazy, or too hot, or too busy). How much squash can one family really eat, anyway?

*sigh* What to do...

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's this??

ooOOOoo... packages... wonder what's in them?

*gasp* Homeschool books! Yay! (If it looks like something is missing, we already had our science and foreign language.)Remember the fun of new notebooks, sharp new crayons and pencils, all the smells of school supplies and books (old and new) and a fresh new school year? We have all that too, we just don't have to leave home. Lizi always gets excited when the new books get here. She has already done a couple of lessons just for fun, but we've decided we won't get started full-time till August 1. It makes me feel like a good teacher when my student is happy to get started with a new year of learning.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Party: Grand finally

So if you're tired of reading about our old-fashioned birthday party preparations, this is your lucky day. The party was Friday night, and it was fun! Unfortunately, I failed to get photos of the adults with the hula hoops, but here's some photos I did get (click on them if you'd like a better view):

Our party room - tables for eating in the front, game tables in the back.

Our homemade party hats and goody bags

The average table for eating, with flowers and toys! By the way, I learned that my uncle Buck can make a mean Jacob's Ladder with those strings.

Lydia enjoying the pool

Lizi with cousin Amanda in the pool

Drinks - lemonade, and bottled cokes, on ice, in a washtub. (I failed to account for the condensation on the outside of the washtub and there was water everywhere - I guess that's why coolers were invented!)

Our yummy birthday cake - strawberry shortcake cupcakes! Sponge cake in the bottom, sweetened strawberries on top of that, and real whipped cream on top.

Lizi and Lydia at their "un-gift" table - last year and this year, rather than asking for gifts, they request school supplies to be donated to foster children through Kids to Love.

Blowing out the candles - 11 for Lizi, 3 for Lydia! And yes, that's a tin of Charles Chips beside them - how great is that!

The school supplies, after sorting and counting - not bad! For reference, that's 31 one-subject notebooks and 25 packs of filler paper.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Party: Games

Our party games this year are a little different. The whole party has turned out a little old-fashioned. So I thought, what better party games could we have than for the adults to show the children how to play the games they played when they were little? We searched high and low for games from the days before video games and DVD players, and here is what we came up with:
Jacks, pick-up sticks, hula hoops, slinkys, peg games, cat's cradle, cootie catchers, checkers, dominoes, yo-yos, and probably some more I'm forgetting.

My hope, and indeed my prayer, in doing this is to create an atmosphere where the adults and children interact and find something they enjoy doing together. This generation is in desperate need of adult interaction, and it has to start somewhere. It will either be a great success or a huge disaster, probably depending on the adults and their willingness to PLAY. (and not sit around the table talking.)

Party: Decorations

Here's something I made to decorate for the party. I was going to make it out of fabric, but 1) I was running low on fabric scraps; and 2) scrapbook paper was half price at Hobby Lobby this week. So scrapbook paper it was. I cut the triangles out with a straight edge and a utility knife, then stitched them on to some old seam binding and bias tape I knew I would never use otherwise. I was very pleased with how it turned out, and it was very quick to make. I spent $2.50 total on it, and I have about 10 yards of this stuff!

The other decorations will be helium balloons, gingham fabric tablecloths, and maybe some wildflowers in Mason jars.

This is a label from a package of bias tape I used. I just love looking at these things. Especially where they always say something like "Does Your Child Sew?" This one says to send three labels and a dime to cover postage, and they will send "a generous package of clippings" suitable for trimming doll clothes and small projects. The newer packages still have a similar offer, but obviously the postage is a lot more, and they no longer ask if your child sews. How sad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Party: clothes

Here are Lizi and Lydia's outfits for the party. Lizi is being a good sport about matching her little sister - I told her she could have a "mini me." This is the first time and probably the last time ever I will be able to shop for them in the same department. Yes, I cheated and didn't make the whole thing - I found the Tshirts and shorts at Target. I did make the cupcakes on the Tshirts, though, by Julie's free pattern from the Little Cotton Rabbits blog.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Party: Goody bags

As promised, here are some more party things we've been working on.

These are our fabric goody bags. They will be tied with a ribbon at the top. My hope is that these will be reused in ways only children can find to use them. The babies get the Mother Goose print, and the older kids get the variety of fabrics. I got the idea from the Martha Stewart website.

These are our tic-tac-toe sets to go in the goody bags. They are little drawstring bags with the grid drawn on the front, and the pieces are those flat marble things in two different colors.

This litter of kittens will go in the baby goody bags, with a few extra for moms who don't want their kids to have the marbles.

Also in the bags will be a box of Cracker Jacks and a Yummy Earth lollipop.

Brenda McGarity

There are good pastor's wives. The ones who teach classes, play piano, cook and clean and do whatever needs to be done. The ones who stand by their husbands through hurtful things done by people who desperately need God. The ones who work and sacrifice for both the thankful and thankless. And then there are the ones who sunbathe in a bikini on the front lawn of the parsonage, but that's another post.

My friend Bren was the best of the best. Through years of chronic illness and pain, she taught children's church and VBS. She and her husband were a great team and worked six days a week, every week. They stood together through thick and thin, church remodeling, false accusations, and just life in general.

But Bren went on home this morning, after a short but terminal bout of cancer. And I know she was welcomed with rewards and "atta girls" that I can't even fathom.

See you later, Bren. I hope you'll get some rest now.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garden update

We will return to our regularly scheduled party programming after this quick garden update.
Looks like I need to buy more canning jars.

It seems that the seeds I threw out there just as experiments have been the most fun. This is ornamental corn, and it's so petite and colorful compared to the yellow corn.

The one sunflower that did well.

How about this guy? I don't think I've ever weeded a mushroom before.

Buried treasure

Busy buzzy garden helpers! Given the plight of honey bees, I was so happy to see these guys! They showed up when the corn put out tassels, and it seems there are more every day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


When Lizi was younger, we started having a pool party for her birthday in our hometown, so extended family and old friends could come. She has a party here on her birthday too, with her friends. The theme for the pool party was always whatever she liked at the moment. It is always a lot of fun and seems to grow every year.

But when Lydia was born, it had to become a party for the both of them. It isn't easy to find a theme that suits a toddler and a preteen. And besides all that, I am so weary of the character-printed tableware, trying to make the all-natural cake look like it came from a bakery, plastic junk in a goody bag that will break before they get it home - you know the drill. This year I just wanted to bless them with a lovely, simple, fun party. Think Hello Kitty meets Dick and Jane.

So over the next few days as we finish up the preparations, I'll try to show you what we've been up to. First up is the invitations:

Aren't they just sweet! The invitation is printed on a half sheet of pastel colored cardstock. I cut flowers and flower centers out of the same cardstock, and stuck them on with foam mounting tape to make them stand out a bit. They are all mixed and matched so there are not many duplicates. Besides that, we have pastel envelopes that are all mismatched too. I was very pleased with how they turned out.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Seventeen is a good number...

...but I'm glad it's not the last number! As you may have read on Chad's blog, we were married 17 years ago today. So I thought it the perfect occasion to write out 17 of the billion reasons I love this man:

1. That he loves me whether the dishes, laundry or house is clean or not. (Even though he'd rather have them clean.)
2. That he always encourages me to pursue whatever dream I have, no matter how crazy.
3. Our two precious girls, who would not be just who they are without him.
4. That he is such a doting daddy.
5. That we speak in a sort of code to each other, a mix of movie lines and things our babies say, or said.
6. That, knowing how much I love thistles, he took up a shovel and rescued one that was about to be mowed to bring it home to me. Without gloves!
7. That he pays enough attention to me to know I love thistles, and why.
8. That he has more integrity than any man I have ever known.
9. That he laughs at my "corny" jokes.
10. That he keeps putting links to my blog on his, like he thinks it's worth reading or something!
11. That he is so patient and kind to me.
12. That he never makes me feel bad for buying MORE yarn or fabric.
13. That he helps me when I need to rescue furniture or whatever from the side of the road, dumpster, etc.
14. That he has figured out that I am just plain stubborn, and if he just keeps quiet I'll change my mind on my own, bless his heart.
15. That he genuinely cares for people and wants to help them.
16. That he works hard to provide for us, so that I can stay home with our girls.
17. That, after 17 years, I would rather spend time with him than anyone. As I said, I'm glad there are lots more numbers after 17. I love you, Chad, and I hope that together we see them all!

Saturday, July 5, 2008


We have to be careful what we say in the garden these days...

Friday, July 4, 2008

What day is it?

Or, should I say, what day is it to you?

The evolution of the English language is interesting to me. We no longer say 'thee' and thou', for instance, and for that I am grateful. You would probably even get some questioning stares if you said something was 'groovy'. In particular, though, we seem to be removing all references to pain and suffering from our language. For example, we no longer 'die', we 'pass away'. And when we are 'interred' (not 'buried') it will be in a 'memorial garden' rather than a 'graveyard'.

I guess we do this to avoid all the pain and offense we can. But I wonder how healthy it is to exclude all of it. Without pain, how do we recognize the absence of it? Without the dark, how do we discern the light? In my life, I have found that the good and beautiful things stand out all the more in times of darkness and pain.

It seems that every year, more and more I hear this day referred to as 'the Fourth of July' rather than 'Independence Day'. I wonder if we began calling it such to avoid the reference to the battles, the losses, and the sacrifices to gain our freedom as a nation. But to my mind, it dishonors those who fought and died so that their descendants could live in a land of privilege and abundance.

So you celebrate as you choose today. But as we go about our festivities today, I think I'll say "Happy Independence Day"!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My motivation for canning

Many women are intimidated, or even offended, by the description of "a wife of noble character" in Proverbs 31:10-31. If this is you, I would humbly suggest that you go back and read it once more, because, in the words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think it means what you think it means". (Did I just combine the Bible and The Princess Bride in the same paragraph? Yes, I did. You'll recover.) Here's the Kim paraphrase of that passage: Act honorably, don't be lazy, be generous, be prepared, take care of your family, and fear God. That doesn't sound so bad, does it?

I am fortunate to have women in my own family who were, and are, examples of this to me. Women who were strong, diligent, and creative enough to care for their families through wars, the Great Depression, and a lot of other stuff. I grew up watching them and hearing the stories of the ones who had gone before, but I understand much better now how hard it must have been and how tenacious they had to be to overcome. When I learn a skill that is new to me, but would have been something they did every day, I feel a sort of connection with them and that makes me proud.

Canning has been one of those skills. I would not presume to tell anyone how to do it, as I am the newest of newbies. My learning style is such that I like to read about how to do something, and then try it. I found so much information on the Internet, and I know anyone who is interested in trying canning could find what they need there or at a library. I did read somewhere that you should only use recipes written in the last few years, because of new findings about bacteria and spoilage. I did not find canning to be very difficult at all, and I don't even have the equipment to make it easier. (But my dear mother-in-law has offered to buy me some!!)

It doesn't take a genius to see that our way of life in America is not sustainable. Change will have to come if we are to survive. The change may come gradually, or it may be quite drastic and catastrophic. My feeling is that the more self-sufficient I can become, the better I can care for my family through whatever happens. Learning the "old ways," like gardening, canning and living within our means might turn out to be good skills to have.

That's probably more information than you were looking for, Sharon, but I hope it answers your question!