Thursday, October 29, 2015

Flurry of Activity in the Sewing Room

This week I've been a whirlwind in the sewing room.  

First, I Kondo'ed my fabrics. I was pleased to note that I didn't actually have to get rid of many things--I seem to automatically buy fabrics that spark joy. 

Second, I sized-up the jersey scraps and attacked them with fervor.  One night the boys were at a meeting, so Annie and formed a rope-making team: I cut the jersey strips, and she pulled them into ropes. That night I stayed up late cutting lots of circles out of larger pieces of fabric--you know, in case I need to make a circle-spiral-applique-anything. Just in case. And then I stored all these happy scraps in a bin together and joyfully threw away the leftover unusable bits.  I stored the larger scraps by color: greens, blues and blacks in one bin; reds, pinks, and purples in the other. Nice.

Third, I assessed the mending pile.  A skirt whose hem needed re-doing.  A doll whose leg had been ravaged by the dog and who needed surgery.  A pair of khaki pants who needed a seam re-sewn. And about half a dozen socks begging me to darn them, darn them all!

So one night I did all that.

Fourth, I reviewed the pile of unfinished projects that had been living, half-done, in my fabric trunk....a fabric bag MB gave me with no bottom, a ginormous stack of white napkins-to-be (formerly a sheet) that I cut out ages ago but never had the heart to hem (it takes forever), a scrap dress for Annie, etc.  I fixed the bag and zig-zagged the edges of the napkins--they're for everyday, so I am just not even going to bother hemming.  Today I plan to finish that scrap dress (only one more ruffle to attach, and binding), iron interfacing onto two headbands and finish those, and sew a button on a shirt for my husband.  And then, hallelujah, I will be done with all the undone!

Oh! And yesterday afternoon I spent some time cutting out strips for Annie's quilt.

I feel so liberated from the shackles of unfinished work...just in time to leave town with a new project to work on in the car (my reward for all this effort)!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Lone Rose the midst of a busy week: preparing for a trip, comforting a friend, empathizing with my father by phone (he broke his back on Saturday night), and lots of fabric work. And you know, the usual round of school, laundry, tidying messes, making more messes, cooking dinner, and cleaning up....

This was the last rose standing of a dozen.  I put it in my Tiffany bud vase, reserved for only the finest specimens, to celebrate its longevity and perseverance!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pink Birthday Treats (and Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting)

My birthday was a whole month ago! But I just transferred photos from the camera to the computer....

My father and stepmother always send me a bouquet of flowers. I love this tradition. 

On my visit to the antiques store, I bought this apron.  The hanger doesn't do it justice: it's the cutest thing ever.  I love cleaning house in all these polka dots!

My carrot cake was delicious. I had been thinking about it since I made one for my friend MB's birthday in May 2014.  Yes, I thought about carrot cake for a long time!

*Gluten-Free Carrot Cake*
No pineapple, no nuts in the batter, no raisins!

2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (make your own, or buy one! I bought one for the first time ever!)
a couple hearty shakes of cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sucanat
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
6 carrots, peeled and finely grated on a box grater

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 2 9-inch cake pans, I also line mine with parchment paper.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  

Beat sugars, oil and buttermilk until well-combined, then beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in the carrots, then add flour mixture a little at a time.  Pour into the pans and bake until done. (I usually don't time my baking, so I can't say how long! My guesstimate: 25 minutes-ish.)

Cool cake completely before frosting. 

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
8-oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 stick of softened butter
8 ounces confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T. buttermilk
a few shakes of cinnamon

Combine cream cheese and butter and beat 3 minutes.  Add the sugar slowly and beat until combined, then add the vanilla, buttermilk and cinnamon and beat until fluffy.  

I sprinkled cinnamon on top of my icing, too, just because it looked good. When I made it for MB I put crushed pecans all around the sides, but I skipped that this time due to a nut allergy among our guests.


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Yard in Autumn

Today was gorgeous so I worked in the yard, trimming and dividing peonies and pulling a few weeks. It's time to transplant the hostas and get everyone cozy for winter. My hostas thrive in their north-facing spot, but they must be moved because a new patio will replace their current habitat.  Alas! I hope they do okay in the west-facing bed.  

I love the little last bits of color in the garden: silvery sage, yellow crocuses, crispy peonies. The leaves are just beginning their riot of color.  Autumn in the mountains is a wonderful thing to witness. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

All Afternoon in the Kitchen

I have started a little tradition of inviting myself to a friend's house for dinner, but volunteering to bring the dinner.  I do this for friends with young children, because they typically have a harder time going out at night.  Annie and Finn aren't old, but they go to bed later than most of my friends' children, so we have the flexibility to stay out!

Today as soon as we finished school and some basic chores (12:30) I hit the kitchen and did not leave until I walked out the door at 4:45.  I was cooking for a family of seven, plus my family of four, plus (I found out at 2:30) my friend's parents who were visiting this week as well.  That's 13 people, although 7 of them were young children.  And Finn is gluten-free.  

Here was the take-away-dinner-party menu:

*basic green salad on a big platter (with yellow peppers and red onions on top)
*baked pesto ziti (highly glutenous) 
*baked penne (gluten-free, featuring ground beef from our farm!)
*French bread (made as described, except I used 3 c. wheat flour at the start)
*gluten-free sandwich bread for Finn 
*chocolate pie with a gluten-free graham cracker crust 

I made it all, and it was all good.  

And I'm so happy because tomorrow I get the night off!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Three Hours a Week

This is the first year I have instituted quiet time in our household, because Annie is finally old enough to play alone!  We only do QT, as we call it, three times a week, because on Tuesday afternoon we're at lessons and running errands, and on Friday afternoon our babysitter is here.  I began it for two reasons: first, as an introvert, I need some breathing room, and second, because our schedule is so full that it's hard for me to find time to simply read.

I have only one rule during quiet time: everyone in his or her own room.  You can draw, play with toys, look at books, but you need to hang out in your own space (we don't own video games or watch TV).  

So, during QT, the children hang out in their rooms and I spend time in my room.  I curl up on my bed with a cup of steaming hot decaf tea (and sometimes a snack!).  No screens are allowed during quiet time.  I just read good old-fashioned books!  And it is wonderful, restorative, blissful.  I emerge from quiet time feeling rejuvenated and grateful.

This has been an excellent addition to our day!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Letter to My 20-Year Old Daughter

Several years ago a friend sent me a link to a site where the author wrote a letter to her 20-year old self.  I loved that idea--and I plan to do it sometime.  But as I've contemplated having a daughter, and have found myself observing her, thinking of womanhood and life, I've been drawn to write a letter to my 20-year old daughter first.  I initially wrote this letter in 2012, and here's a slightly-revised version.

{The photos are of various ancestors. My darling mother is in the above photo and in the fifth one.}

Dear Annie,

I love you, which is the first thing I would ever want to say to you in a letter.  God loves you--the next thing I would say.  Both loves are unconditional, which is the only way to truly love anything or anyone.  I hope and pray that the unconditional love you have received from your parents will allow you to comprehend the unconditional love that is offered by God.  It is vast and wide.  It is endless.

So here are my nuggets of advice, hard-earned wisdom, many points on which I am still a work-in-progress.  I write these so you may know them intellectually, but like most of us you will have to learn a lot of them through experience.  That's okay! That's good.

1. As my mother would tell me, and as Shakespeare would tell us all, "to thine own self be true."  You were 'fearfully and wonderfully made' and that means you are created uniquely, intentionally and particularly to be the one and only you in this world.  This is no excuse to let your faults just ride--always identify and fight against your faults!--but rather just embrace who you are as a person.  Be true to yourself. 

2. I can tell already that you are independent--and I'm glad!  Be an independent thinker--think for yourself.  Don't let culture spoon-feed you some idea of what you are supposed to be or do.  Frankly, I believe our culture is very difficult for women.  It is full of extreme expectations of women--in how to act, in what to wear (or not wear), on what a girl's goals for the future should be, etc. These images can be dangerous and even poisonous. They are cultural creations.  You should look to timeless truths to determine what to think, believe and how to act.  Don't be a cookie-cutter and don't be content to simply follow the crowd.  Be your own person. The Bible gives some great examples of women who are to be admired and who are *not* cookie-cutters.  Read that book. Don't read someone else's interpretation of it.  Read it yourself.

3. Find your self-worth in one place and one place only: in God.  Don't look to culture, to other people, to your boyfriend, to your spouse, to your children, to employers, to teachers, to your parents, to your church leaders, to popular culture icons. If you rely on others' opinions of you or definitions of who you should be you will always be disappointed, you will always fall short.  God doesn't disappoint.  His opinion is the only one that matters and He's given us the workings of the Holy Spirit to figure out what He would have us do in our lives. That's it.  So simple.  So challenging!

4. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  (Romans 8:1)  Amen.  This goes along with the above points--my advice to ignore culture.  Of course we have to obey certain social customs (for instance, please do write thank-you notes, it shows gratitude and is polite...but sometimes you can't for whatever reason or sometimes other people don't so don't get hung up on it--extend grace!!) Mainstream culture is rarely a beacon of goodness and light. (Just watch some TV to determine how true this is--it's so junky.)  Live in this world, understand and be savvy about the customs that need to be followed, but don't look to the general culture for guidance on how to live or who to be.  It's just flat and lifeless.  Seek these things for yourself.  Which brings me to a practical point, and I know some people disagree, but by now you know I believe that....

5.  Television is rarely a quality use of your time.  That's all I'm saying! Take it or leave it--but you know my stance. :) 

6.  Take care of your physical self. Try to eat healthfully and exercise, drink water, eat plenty of vegetables, get enough rest.  It just makes you feel better.  Physical health helps us have mental health.  Stay active and be kind to your body.

7. Have discernment. Be savvy. People are not always who they say they are or who they would lead you to believe.  Try to avoid falling for the 'image' or the 'veneer.' Use your discernment, listen to your gut instinct, and study a person or a situation carefully in order to determine where their heart is and what their intentions are.  You don't need to be scared of people, but you should be savvy about the fact that not everyone has your best interests in mind.  And just because someone is religious....or a community leader...or a professor....or a 'friend'....unfortunately doesn't automatically mean they are trustworthy.  Be smart.  Use your head (and your instinct). 

8. Cultivate a love of beauty.  Beautiful things--flowers, music, artwork, film, literature.  Be discerning in your tastes. Don't settle for whatever is the current rage--so often that is just drivel.  Art is a subjective thing, it is true--and my own tastes run to the eclectic. But remember that underneath the subjective nature of 'genre' there is a greater theme, an objectivity of beauty that you want to seek. Remember "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  (Philippians 4:8)  Seek beauty and enjoy creativity. It is one of the most wonderful parts of being human.

9.  One of the biggest things I think we have to do as Christians is to identify and flush out pride.  There is NO self-righteousness. I'm just going to turn to C.S. Lewis on this point "Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind." And the test for pride: "Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good--above all, that we are better than someone else--I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil." Lewis goes so far as to write that the center of Christian virtues does not rest in the more obvious 'action-based' virtues but in this one internal vice--that "the essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride....unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil."  Be on your guard against an attitude of pride.

10.  In a similar vein, avoid being judgmental.  Now, I think you have to use your wisdom to discern between being judgmental and identifying ungodly behavior, because there is a difference. When we are judgmental we are puffed up with our own sense of pride; *our* way of doing things (anything-- cooking....raising is Obviously the Best.  And Why Can't Everyone Recognize That?  Avoid this type of attitude.  Humans are all inclined to judgmental behavior and we all engage in it; all the more reason to be on your guard against it.  Identification of ungodly behavior is kind of like discernment.  Develop the gift of discernment and understand that it is true that human beings will act in an ungodly fashion (we all do it--every single one).  What I'm saying is this: know that we all have planks in our eyes.  Don't be oblivious to them.  So work on your own planks and don't judge someone else for their splinters.  (But don't pretend that the splinters don't exist--they do. And a 'splinter' that is immoral, evil, or unethical can be forgiven, but need not be quietly tolerated.) Which leads me to....

11.  Know what you believe and stand up for it.  Don't be content to let injustice pass by in front of your face.  How many times do I wish I'd been brave enough, as a teenager or young adult, to speak up against wrongs that I saw?  There's a saying that is so true--"if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything."  Be a person who stands for something.  The current news is full of descriptions of the trial of Jerry Sandusky who allegedly molested many children under the guise of being a 'good guy' who helped underprivileged children--it's a horrifying case.  (Classic example of the wolf in sheep's clothing--be discerning!)  One thing that is most appalling about the situation is that there were several people who knew of his abuse and yet never raised brought it to light in the way that they should have raised.  It's unthinkable, I know! But I think that we never know how we will respond until we are in a we have to gird ourselves with our principles, so we are not swayed by circumstances.  In an age of moral relativism, we have to think clearly and reject the idea that there is no 'right' or 'wrong.'  We also have to be bold in proclaiming right from wrong.  There are plenty of ways to be a good person.  Christ spoke strongly and boldly against injustice--against oppression.  Be very clear and seek for yourself what this means, and don't let the tide of culture be the driving force in your life.  Don't 'fall for anything.'  

12.  Gossip is unhealthy.  Avoid it.  One yardstick of what to say is to ask yourself three questions--is it true? Is it necessary? is it kind?  I have had to learn this one the hard way on both ends. The words of our mouths can wreak havoc--watch them carefully.  "For with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." (James 3:9-11)  The words that come out of our mouths are often a reflection of our hearts.  And if someone is gossiping to you about someone else, they are probably going to gossip about you later. So be careful how much you reveal if you don't thoroughly trust your listener.

13. Live with passion. Identify the things that you're passionate about doing and do them!  If you love to write, paint, sing, cook, whatever--just do it and enjoy it.  We all have our gifts and passions; one big favor you can do yourself is to try to live with some awareness of who you are.  Also, don't think you have to be 'perfect' at something in order to do it.  That's a trap to keep you from even getting started.

14. Cultivate contentment.  Materialism will never, ever bring you lasting happiness or joy.  Cultivate a sense of contentment not only with your possessions (home, car, clothing, etc) but with your life and yourself generally.  Remember that even the humblest of abodes in the USA is a palace to much of the world's population.  This is not to make you feel guilty--it's to give you perspective.  Be content with what you have--whether you are in a season of plenty or of little--and most of us go through seasons of both all throughout life.

15. Avoid drama.  Don't be someone who is always reactionary, stressing out over things in life (especially things over which you have no control!).  Being a stressed-out person is not fun for those around you, it's not fun for you, and it's just plain not worth it. 

16.  Cultivate selflessness.  Whether you're single, have children, whatever--try to cultivate selflessness. That is not to say that you can't do fun things for yourself. It is a fact of life that I need some down time, alone time--it's how I'm made, as an extreme introvert--I love people and socializing but I need to be alone.  But don't expect it all the time.  Get out of your comfort zone--it's healthy.

17. Enjoy the gifts of everyday life....little things.  Birds.  Clouds. Breezes. I know this sounds trite, but it's true.  The best things in life *are* free. Learn to see how your day is full of treats and delights.  Embrace them even in the midst of hard times. *Especially* in the midst of hard times.

18.  Don't have too many expectations about 'how life should go.' I am an observer of people, a watcher.  My observation of people over the years has been that the more someone relies hard on circumstances to make them happy, the harder they fall.  Ultimately people end up embittered, disenchanted, unhappy, all because they have all these expectations about life! When Finn was a tiny baby I realized that expectations lead to frustration.  So I stopped 'expecting' him to sleep through the night.  Don't expect your vacation to be perfect, your day to go seamlessly. Don't expect everything to be 'just so.'  Thank God it's not--where's the adventure in having everything the way you plan it?  There's no way to see the silver lining in any cloud of life if you are too busy wishing for sunshine.  There are people who will have a day that is otherwise wonderful but get too fixated on the fact that x, y or z happened and suddenly they are all gloom-and-doom.  Don't set yourself up to be this Eeyore person.  Be flexible.  It's okay to have hopes and dreams, but don't let circumstances dictate your mood. I have learned and continue to learn this over and over again--it's making me a stronger person.  There's no perfection this side of heaven--just accept that and get on with life!

19.  If you are single, know that you can and should use that singleness to do 'kingdom work' for God.  If you are married, enjoy your relationship and make it a priority.  If you have children, do your job and order your time so that they know they are of great importance to you.  They grow up quickly, and once they're's prioritize your life properly.  Invest in the work God gives to you, wherever you are, right now--"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us--yes, establish the work of our hands."  (Psalm 90:17.)

20.  Don't think that having written all this means that I can say that I live it out perfectly or that I'm a finished work.  I'm a work in progress and will always be one.  C.S. Lewis states it beautifully when he notes that "very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.  We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven."  If someone acts like they do everything perfectly all the time, run away from them!  We are all learning. We are all in progress. 

Love you always, sweet Annie. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

All the Places to Love

This book is an absolute gem.  My sister found it at Goodwill and purchased it for my children.  The dust jacket was missing and she'd never heard of it before...but oh my, when I read it I cried. 

It is about a family of several generations living on a farm....just like us.

It's about an older brother with a baby sister...just like us.

It's about a turtle crossing the path....turtles were my mother's favorite little animal.

It's about finding sweetness and wonder in the everyday places of one's life....just like, I hope, us!

The book is magically written and the paintings move me to tears.  I love the beautiful simplicity of the flowing skirts and overalls.  I love grandmother sailing a tiny boat down a river and grandfather carving babies' names in the barn beams.  My sentimentality goes into overdrive every time I read this to my children. 

If someone twisted my arm and forced me to pick my favorite picture books of all-time, All the Places to Love would be in the top five.  Easily.  

Read it and weep! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: A Review

My husband pays attention.  For Mother's Day this year he surprised me with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, a book I'd never mentioned to him but he'd just found on his own, knowing my love for Natalie Chanin's work.

After my in-laws left our luncheon that day I curled up on our bed and spent two hours poring over the book, studying it cover-to-cover.  I made lists of ideas.  I sketched out a few thoughts.  I was immersed!  

This may be my favorite Natalie Chanin book so far, but not because it is full of unusual designs and colors or inspiration.  I love it because it is just flat-out practical. If you are interested in hand sewing garments out of cotton jersey, this is the book I'd recommend.  The book covers garment patterns, fit issues, alterations, and some embellishment techniques. 

All of her garment patterns from previous books are included on a CD, along with a few new patterns.  She includes several stencils on the CD as well, and the garments pictured in the book use those stencils exclusively, which keeps things simple.  I love the index of design choices in the back-simple, practical and interesting. These garment patterns also include expanded sizes, from XS to XXL--so helpful if you've struggled to grade patterns smaller or larger. 

I took the CD to my local large-scale print shop (they print blueprints for architects).  I asked them to print everything on the CD--I wanted every pattern to be readily available whenever inspiration hits, and I wanted the stencils too.  They printed it all for $53.  This felt like a great bargain!  The book includes a bolero pattern with various sleeve lengths, a wrap skirt, an a-line tunic/dress/gown, a cardigan/jacket/coat, a tank/camisole shirt/tunic/dress, a fitted tank/camisole/dress, a couple of skirt incarnations, a corset pattern, a poncho pattern.....when I add it all up I paid less than $2/ stencils! I use doctor's examination table paper to trace the patterns off and keep the originals intact. I highly recommend exam paper!  It's economical and perfect for pattern-purposes. The print shop gave me the patterns in enormous rolls; I love that the patterns haven't been folded, so I don't have to deal with creases. 

I highly recommend this straightforward, practical, and pattern-abundant book. Natalie Chanin's generosity in offering her techniques and patterns overwhelms me with gratitude.  I'm planning my next Alabama Chanin project....but only after I finish Annie's quilt.  Self-discipline, people.  I am exercising my self-discipline!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sixteen Years

My husband and I celebrated our sixteenth anniversary yesterday!  Our sweet babysitter took this shot before we ran away for dinner together.

 I was a tender 22 when we got married and was completely unprepared for married life.   How can anyone know how completely and utterly I have failed at marriage?  The depth and breadth of my failings cannot be understated.  Most of the time I had no idea I was failing until it was all said and done and I could look back in shock at how my vulnerabilities had worked against me, how my childhood had risen up inside me, how self-destructive I could be.  As the child of divorce I had no idea what a healthy marriage really looked like.  I was a stranger in a strange land, an explorer navigating tricky waters. I have failed so many times.  I have been abysmal at marriage.

That's how I know that this quote by Kara Tippets is true: because I have experienced this living illustration of faith.  I have experienced grace and mercy and forgiveness.  I have been the recipient of self-sacrificial love. It has been so humbling for me.  I have felt like I won the marriage lottery.  I am a better person because of my husband. 

The most humbling thing of all is that my husband doesn't seem to see or notice my failings.  He only sees the beauty inside me.  He overlooks my faults, forbears the wrongs I commit, steadfastly believes that I am somehow special, wonderful, unique and chosen.  He loves me in spite of myself. *He* genuinely seems to think he won the marriage lottery.  I can't believe how deep his devotion to me has been. It truly is a wonderful living illustration of Jesus' love for us.  We have a happy marriage.  It is a beautiful gift. 

I am so grateful for this shadow of what is to come.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Marriage: A Living Illustration

"Marriage is an illustration, a living illustration of our marriage to Jesus.  Marriage is a reminder, a shadow, a picture of what is to come.  When a marriage is based on Jesus, based on love, on grace, on the goodness of God in relationship, all who come in contact with that marriage will go away blessed, richer, nourished. Marriage is to be the place of freedom to deeply know God's goodness, mercy, forgiveness, and grace.  It is to point us to the ultimate Goodness, Mercy, Forgiveness and Grace that is to come.  It is the ultimate "now and not yet" in living."

                    --Kara Tippets, The Hardest Peace

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

{Charlotte Mason-inspired} Homeschooling without Lesson Plans

This summer I did a lot of pondering, planning, thinking, revising and revisiting regarding the upcoming school year.  Eventually I decided to just start with math and language arts, and then see what happened.  

Math is math and doesn't require 'plans'; language arts is a program I purchased this year, so no planning there.  But what about the other subjects I want to do, but just do not want to sit down once a week and plan out?  

A couple of weeks ago I came up with my genius approach: index cards.  I took a dozen or so index cards and wrote a different subject on each one...things like science, history, composer, art, geography, history tales, biography, poetry, et cetera.  After Finn finishes his math and language arts each day, he can pick 2-3 cards (Annie usually chooses one, too--she's only 4, so she's just along for the ride).  We do the subjects on the chosen cards, then set those cards aside and continue working through the stack the next day. In this way we basically hit all these 'extra' subjects each week, and definitely every two weeks, but I don't have to puzzle out when to do each one. I don't really enjoy puzzling out when to do each one, and am very happy to skip that! There are several "literature (current read-aloud)" cards in a stack--because I like to do that more frequently than once a week-ish. When Finn chose history the other day, we just read the next chapter in the history book, he narrated it, and we were done.  (I approach all subjects in this straightforward way--remembering that the thing is the thing, as Nancy Kelly once wrote.) I keep our current resources in a bin on our school table so they are readily accessible.

I require narrations for several subjects.  We like to do picture narrations from the history reading, oral narrations for fairy tales, history tales, and often for science, and acting narrations for Aesop.

Here's a photo of my index is supremely simple.  

Less time planning means more time on my other pursuits...less is actually more in this case!

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Happy Birthday

My birthday was one week ago today and I enjoyed many treats...including, but not limited to:

a large bouquet of flowers from my dad and stepmother, which I broke into various vases and placed around the house (after five days of rain, the morning I saw sunlight on the roses was a magical morning indeed);

antique-store shopping with my sister.... I bought a fabulous apron, she bought me a jadeite salt shaker, and of course I found presents for my children (for the Christmas stockings!); I did not purchase this delightful confection, but I enjoyed wearing it;

and not pictured: carrot cake. Finn was offended that I baked my own birthday cake.  I wasn't--it was gluten-free, topped with cream cheese icing and completely delicious. 

My husband gave me all sorts of goodies, from NT Wright to Beta Radio. My sweet friend E sent me Page CXVI's Advent album and Tasha Tudor's Christmas book.  My other sweet friend E gave me Simpatico Ambergris solid of my all-time favorite scents. (They all know me so well!)  And my children performed a detailed, multi-act talent show; my husband wrote the program and directed the show and the 'quotes' from various news outlets and the actor's bios were absolutely hilarious. 

Another year of life!  I am grateful to be here for another go 'round the sun.  Life is such a gift.