Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mitten Making

Many years ago I began the long and tedious process of learning to knit. I didn't get far. In spite of my lack of knitting skills, and my rather shady sewing ability, I have put together several pairs of wool mittens. I have found the sleeves can produce a couple pairs of child-sized mittens, while the body of the sweater is great for an adult pair.
I'm not quite certain who will end up wearing these warm fuzzies, but whoever does will have toasty warm fingers.

By the way, I have delivered three Snowman fence sections to two of my friends. Not sure if I'll venture to paint any more, but there remains that possibility. Then again, maybe I'll paint some smaller snowmen instead.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

T for Two

T for two, and two for tea.

I'll take a cup of cinnamon spice tonight, and maybe a couple of gingerbread cookies. Anyone care to join me? What will you have? A slice of pie? A piece of cake? (Don't worry, they're calorie and fat-free.)

The tea cups were at the antique shop I visited the other day. I didn't buy them, but I think they're pretty.

To see the other participants in the new round of 
ABC Wednesday, click here!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stepping Backward

Frantically clawing to keep from falling in, I fight to escape the pit of holiday madness... There will be gifts to buy or make, presents to wrap and cookies to bake, and those favorite movies to watch.

I took a ride by myself Friday morning, but not necessarily Christmas shopping. There was no Black Friday rush where I went. I poked my way through Goodwill and took a leisurely walk through an antique shop. I bought little to nothing, at least in those two places. We won't talk about the grocery store...

In the antique store I found myself strangely drawn to old children's books and an intense desire to curl up in a corner and lose myself in a book. I resisted the urge to purchase this time... Do I really have time to abandon my house and family to read?

Upstairs I found myself smiling at vintage pull toys and wondering again how hard it would be to duplicate them. It's the old Fisher Price toys that always catch my eye. We never owned a chicken pull toy, in fact, I'm not sure I'd ever seen one before, yet they make me smile. (I truly am a hopeless case.)

Then there were the dishes. Lest you think I have suddenly matured, I will have to confess that almost every "little" girl loves a tea party and a fancy table. They are fun to look at and probably even more fun if the tea party actually becomes a reality.

I'm not certain what draws me to antique stores. They are expensive, smell musty, and are full of old things I don't need, yet I wander about taking in the sights and feeling comfortably nostalgic in the process. I like antiques. They take me back to safer childhood days, visits to grandma's house, and days spent on the farm, usually Uncle Joe's.  Hey, I've got a table almost just like that in my kitchen!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Frosting On Top

 He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes;
Psalm 147:16

We woke up to frost on Thanks- giving morning; cold and pretty. It doesn't last long, so on my way to tie out the dog and fetch the newspaper, I grabbed my camera too. The orchard across the street was filled with a smokey haze and the sun was working it's way into the sky.

There is nothing quite like early morning. Whether I am squeezing my eyes shut and snuggling back down under the covers or heading out the back door, a new day always to holds fresh treasures. Even frosted blades of grass are gifts if we just take the time to notice the beauty. I'm learning to stop, if only for a moment, and soak it in.

My list of "1000 Gifts" continues to grow. Little things like frost covered blades of grass seem almost insignificant at first glance, but shine like jewels written on the pages of my Thankful Journal. Sunshine and shadows, ripples on water, scent of lilacs, snow covered branches...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

S is for Snow

S is for snow. There is no snow on the ground today, but by the time the letter S comes round again, it will be July, and I don't want snow in July.

Winter is not my favorite season, but then again there are only four to choose from. Although freezing temperatures and snow keep me inside the house, I've decided to make the best of it and enjoy my time inside. There will be plenty of time for baking, cleaning, crafting, planning, playing, and sleeping. (A long winter's nap is always nice, isn't it?) It's cold enough outside and we've a fire in the wood stove. Bring on the snow! (Sorry, Stacy.)

To see the other participants in the new round of 
ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's A Snow Day!

I didn't have enough to do, so I decided to paint some more snowmen on another fence piece. I did have a little inspiration from a friend who said she might like to buy one. I think I like this one better than the first. I have a whole lot of fence sections out there. I could fill up my entire yard!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Making Snowmen

It was another beautiful fall day. I felt like being creative. Next to Hannah's little house sit some abandoned fence pieces. I decided they needed some help.

I picked out two paint brushes, some white paint, filled my paint pot with water, and headed outside. Sitting on the ground wasn't too uncomfortable, but pretty soon the wind kicked up a bit and I didn't think my paint was drying well. Besides, my hands were cold. So much for being a plein air painter... I dumped the water out of the pot and gathered my supplies. After hoisting the fence section off the ground a few inches (it wasn't heavy), I headed for the house.

Once inside I coerced Hannah into helping me out, and we each worked on a character. I don't know about Hannah, but I thought it was fun, and I think they're cute. Maybe they can live out in my yard this winter. Maybe I can make them some friends.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Imagine That!

Ever wonder where the gnomes and fairies live? It all depends on where you place the door. I really like this one out by the Weeping Birch tree, but tucking it up against the trunk is a little tricky, and I think it needs a little bit of weather-proofing, so I brought it back inside. It tucks up against the wall rather nicely, but ends up four to six inches off the floor... Do you think the Little People will mind?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thrifty Thinking

I had a free afternoon. I probably should have taken a nap, but Hannah and I went out to the thrift stores instead. Sometimes it's fun to look and on rare occasions we find something good.

A couple weeks ago I knocked a lamp off the end table. It had once been a thrift store find, and though the lamp itself was pretty, I had purchased the wrong type of shade which always sat at an angle. I've meant to replace the light, but kept forgetting when I was out.

I glanced around Goodwill today, but nothing caught my attention. (Truthfully, they were all hideous...)  Since we weren't in a hurry, we decided to stop at the Volunteers of America store. Although the day was cold, the weather was dry and there were a few items strategically placed outside the store; two small desks, a rocking chair, a lamp or two and several other things. One lamp grabbed my attention right away. I checked the price, $12.99. It seemed pretty fair to me, so I scooped up the treasure and headed inside.

I think it looks rather nice on the end table.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My New Mittens

I decided to embark on a new project, not that I've finished any of the old ones or anything...

It looked like a fairly easy project involving a thrift store sweater and a little bit of sewing. I searched the racks of sweaters at Goodwill and came home with three wool sweaters. They needed to be felted before I could turn them into mittens. I threw them into the washing machine, set the water temperature to hot, and waited for the machine to do its work. Next they went into the dryer on the hottest setting, and when they came out they were ten sizes smaller!

With the easy part of the project finished, the one where I could hardly fail, I set the sweaters aside, ... for a couple weeks. Yesterday, after tracing my hand to make a pattern, I pulled my old sewing machine out of its suitcase home and put it to work.

Not too bad for a first try. They're thick, warm, and pure Italian wool with a nice synthetic black cuff.  I think I'll keep them.

I have two sweaters left. One is gray and will have to be made into rather smallish mittens. It has some great sleeves that I imagine as the legs to some really cool baby leggings. The other is a beautiful green and red Christmas sweater with silver hooks down the front. I'm not sure I can bring myself to cut it up. It really looks like it needs a red satin liner and a little girl to wear it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Death By Banana Bread

R is for Retrieve and Revive. (This was not originally intended as and ABC Wednesday post, but I think it works nicely. We could call it "recycled.")

Four nicely spotted bananas sat on the counter, waiting to be made into banana bread. Today was the day. (Actually, it was yesterday...) With supplies and ingredients at hand, the task was begun. Sugar and shortening had been creamed, eggs and milk stirred in, when the phone rang. I left the partially mixed batter in the kitchen and stepped outside to talk.

Still on the phone, I returned to the house and stood before the waiting assemblage, when out of the corner of my not-so good eye, I saw something move on my left fingertip which was rather close to my face. Instinctively, I shook my hand. Was it gone? I returned my hand to its former position. No, it was still there. I shook my hand again, not even sure what it tiny object was. This time it was gone. I had seen something fly away. I turned off the phone, set it aside, and returned to my baking.

Taking a fork, I proceeded to mash the two bananas before me. Something small and dark appeared in the bowl. What could it be...? I took up my glasses to identify this foreign object, and there she was, a tiny red ladybug, slathered in mashed banana. She struggled to move, her little legs wiggling. Moved with ladybug compassion, I turned on the water faucet to see if I could rinse away some of the offending substance without killing her. I found it quite difficult to bathe a ladybug. When she stopped moving, I feared the worst.

Not wanting to manhandle her any more than I already had, I dumped the now still creature into a small potted plant on the window sill. An hour or so later she remained, silent and upside down, her underside covered with banana. I went on with my chores.

Two batches of banana bread came and went from the oven, children napped and went home, supper was served and dishes were washed and put away. Late in the evening I glanced into the small pot in search of my little friend but she was gone. Oh wait, there she was! Crawling up the window screen.

Anybody for some coffee and a slice of Ladybug Bread? Er, I mean, banana Bread?

To see the other participants in the new round of 
ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being Responsible

Caring for an aging parent is full of  guesswork. Being responsible for the health and well being of one who isn't quite who they used to be is stressful. She's not quite a child and yet not the mom I once knew. I am still the child in her eyes, and yet I must be the adult. I must take the reins.

Matches... We use them to light the wood stove, keep them for candles, and occasionally use them in the lavatory. It has become apparent that they must not be left where Mom can get them. They must be kept out of sight. Blah. A new stress. She tried to light a candle and dropped the burning match two or three times. I was watching. Now I know there is a new danger and I find it frightening.

I pray my sisters will understand when I don't always treat Mom like an adult. I pray that I will respond properly as situations arise, even though I fail a thousand times. I pray that God will give me the strength I need to finish the task before me, the wisdom to make wise choices, and grace to accept His forgiveness when I fail repeatedly and to forgive myself as well.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Questions to Dodge

There are too many questions bouncing around inside my little brain... It's a good thing I'm pretty good at dodge-ball. (Do you know they're not allowed to play that in NY State schools anymore?)

I've decided that not all questions have an answer. Then again, sometimes the answer is simply, "I don't know," and sometimes it's, "Let me think about it and get back to you." Very often the light in there (my brain) just doesn't go on. (You know the saying, "there's a light in the attic but nobody's home?") Well, sometimes the light is missing altogether. If you're confused, don't worry, you're not alone. :)

PS. I know not all questions can be dodged. Not to worry, I'm not dodging all of them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pies, Apple Pies

I spent hours in the kitchen after a long day of running errands. The pumpkin was finally pureed and stowed in the refrigerator, two apple pies baked happily in the oven. It was time for a rest.

"Hey, Mom," Hannah called, "What's burning?"

There was smoke coming out of the oven, that's what I was told. I pictured it billowing, even thought I really knew it was just juice from the pies overflowing onto the bottom of my stove. Too late for the trusted cookie sheet underneath now... I guess we'll be enjoying the aroma of burnt apples for several more rounds of baking. :)

At least the pies aren't burnt.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11 at 11:13 am

Today is my boy's 18th birthday! I have waited 18 years for this "11th Hour" birthday, but alas! He spent the magic moment at work where he likely got a bigger celebration and a lot more attention than I ever could have given him at home. Either way it's been pretty special having a boy whose birthday falls on Veteran's Day each year. Tonight he has plans with friends; bowling, Trash Plates (go ahead and google it...), and possibly a movie.

On Sunday afternoon we will gather the family for apple pie and ice cream. I'm looking forward to that.

So, Ben, I hope this day will be long remembered and bring a smile to your face for many years to come.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lessons From the Leaves

I suppose I may never tire of watching autumn leaves. Happy, colorful, and carefree, they dance through their final days...

Old age brings a new dimension to the life of a leaf. No longer tethered to the tree, they are free to twirl and dance. They fly through the air and sail on the breeze, spinning as they go. Early life found them supple and green, working hard to provide for their own. Now time has colored them red, orange, yellow and bronze, and left them brittle and stiff. They are dying, yet are, in some ways, more alive than ever before. It's almost as if they know the time is short and they are determined to make the most of it.

Can I learn the lesson and what will it mean for me?

Look! It's a party!!!

I'm Running Away!

Yesterday I ran away from home. I went to the cemetery and wandered about by myself. It was bright, sunny, and warm. I took a few photos, read a few inscriptions, and cried out to God. He heard me. He is good.

Q is for Quaint

Q is for quaint. I guess I would refer to my parent's house as quaint. Rustic, with old barn boards still gracing the walls long after they went out of fashion. It remains a place where I see my father's love and handiwork.

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Rustlers Roost

It has been a week of rustling. The leaves are ripe and it's time to rustle them up. It's one of my very favorite fall activities. Ever since I was a little girl walking through the woods with my mother and she mentioned what a lovely rustling sound the leaves make under one's feet, I have enjoyed the autumn art of leaf rustling.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Autumn Days

I am reveling in the last few days of comfortable autumn weather. I refuse to be dissuaded from my enjoyment by  frigid weather yet to come. There is still beauty to absorb, crinkly leaves to rustle through, and smoky orchard air to breathe. The squirrels are busy frolicking in the nearly naked tree branches and little birds are hopping about getting ready for winter too. There is an ever growing woodpile emerging on my back porch, and now that the clocks have been set back, the dark of evening chases us inside just a little bit sooner than last week. I still love fall.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Scantily Clad

The trees are disrobing at an alarming rate!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Get Down!

Autumn orchard walks take us past stacks of empty apple crates. They stand in Apple Crate Cities waiting to be hauled off between the trees, filled with semi ripe fruit, and either put into storage or taken to Mott's. My kids think they are actually giant playgrounds...

Friday, November 04, 2011

New Carpet

I'm liking the new carpet. It's one of my favorite colors and hides the dirt rather well. (It hides the grass too.) It really is very pretty. Too bad we have to pull it up so soon.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Happiness is...

... a pile of leaves.

Leta brought the kids to visit, but she didn't get here until noon. This meant two of my small "bugs" would probably not take a nap, so we did the next best thing. We put the two smallest to bed and took the other two outside to play in the leaves... er... make that four. (I forgot to count Lucas and Simon.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It Was Wednesday

I have looked forward to Wednes- day all week long. It arrived bright and early this morning. With just Emma to put on the school bus and no other small children to keep track of, I was able to do some long neglected jobs. After checking my online accounts and downing a cup of coffee, I dragged my Kirby upstairs to battle dust bunnies. We sucked up whole families of dust creatures, chased spiders out of corners, and went through an entire exercise regimen in the process. The laundry room hummed encouragement from downstairs.

It was one of those gorgeous days that should be bottled up and savored. With temper- atures hovering in the low sixties, a walk through the orchard was imperative. I took Hannah along and we soaked in the warm air and sunshine.

If only every day in November could be so perfect.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

P is for Painter

P is for painter.

My friend's husband is an artist. He lives in the Bronx and does most of his painting there. He challenged Hannah and me to come up with ten American painters. I'm afraid that I was at a loss to come up with ten well known American painters. I am rather uneducated in this area... Um, how about Georgia O'Keef? Norman Rockwell?

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!