Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Hook Holder

My friend Mags, over at "Hookery at the Bookery," has a photo of a crochet hook holder that I adored the moment I saw it. You can't miss it if you click over there -- it's the banner photo!
Anyway, today I opened my sewing machine for the first time in over a year. That's a long time!
I'd completely forgotten about this fabric. I picked it up at a junk store. It's 6 rectangular panels, each slightly longer than the size of a place mat. The fabric is very sturdy; I think they're upholstery samples or something. And all the edges were already finished.
While sorting through sewing junk, I found this packet. I looked at it pensively. What's in there? I had no idea. Don't you love finding surprises? It's a little like opening a Christmas present, unexpectedly. I allowed the pleasure of wondering to sink in for a few moments.
When I opened it, I found these! I bought them at a little sewing store in downtown Prattville, Alabama, years ago. Iron transfers -- I'll never use them, but I bet Anna will. I'll give them to her.
On to the hook holder! Here's how I've been storing my crochet hooks, in a decrepit cardboard box.
After a little sewing and fiddling with my old machine, this is what I made:
There is a pocket for each hook, and a flap that folds over.
Then it rolls up and ties with a ribbon I attached.
See? Handy and beautiful, and the hooks are in order by size.
Now I need to find something interesting to do with the other five panels. Happy crafting/sewing/knitting/crocheting, friends!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Looking Ahead to the School Year

I thought I'd post this list here, since I did over on facebook. This is just a list of books for Julia's history study this coming year. She's covering 1800-2000 AD this year. I ordered these today. I may get some others later, but this is good for a start. She'll have a separate list for literature.
  • Life on a Southern Plantation by Paul Erickson 
    The Boys' War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk about the Civil War by Jim Murphy Buried in Ice by Owen Beattie (about the Northwest Passage)
     Pearl Harbor: American and Japanese Survivors Tell Their Stories by Thomas Allen
    Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust by Susan Bachrach
    Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 by Karen Blumenthal
    Eyewitness books on: World War II, Train, Flying Machine, and Civil War
    The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by James Giblin
    A World War II Submarine by Richard Humble
    Fields of Fury by James McPherson
    Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh

    These are just for interesting reading. We also have an Usborne History Encyclopedia with internet links, a large history timeline book, and the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. We'll be checking lots of things out of the library also. This is so much more interesting than having one massive, boring history textbook. Plus, her literature reading (which will be much larger than this list) will support and inform all the material. Susan Bauer, my personal homeschooling guru,  picks excellent books that are suited to the age range.
    We also use the Internet History Sourcebook from fordham.edu. They have huge amounts of primary resource documents for free. Julia loves to read original documents/letters/journals, so much more than secondary sources.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bees

They're lined up at the water fountain, so to speak. It's a hot, thirsty summer, and bees work mighty hard in the sun!

We all like the water -- I know I love it.

Adam's hives are doing well. You can see that he's added another box to the middle Warre hive. The queen there is doing great, and the bees are particularly good foragers. There will be lots of honey to pull from these hives in the fall.

This is the bird bath where they get their water. Our friend says some mornings the bath will be lined with little bees all around, sipping away. This is these bees' job, at their age -- water retrieval.
They're so cute. They have little slender tongues that they put into the water.


My friend has beautiful flowers in her garden.

And some fun garden dwellers too!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waterfall Scarf

I don't know why I first called this a waterfall scarf, but when I look at it, it just reminds me of falling water.
I saw a scarf like this in a local boutique, in blue/green colors, and I said to myself, "I have some yarn just like that! I can make that!" So I am!
It's very loosely-woven, on large knitting needles.
See that big wooden needle? The matching one is on the bathroom counter. It's just 20 stitches across. And I have another skein of that yarn (it's more like string), when this one is finished.
Honestly, it looks more like beaded jewelry than knitting. It's tricky to do, and I'm a mediocre knitter, but I'm enjoying it!
Now here's a question for you: when I finish it, nice and long with fringe on both ends, how much should I sell it for? What do you think?

Weighing Priorities

This election year, I find myself and my friends weighing our priorities. It's a tough election for conservative Christians. We're used to ignoring the Democratic ticket altogether, and since Obama is a flaming liberal, that part of the decision is easy. But then we turn to the Republican ticket, and now that the contenders are reduced to only one -- Romney -- we're sitting back on our heels, looking at him.

What are our priorities? Here are a few that I've heard from friends:
1. Defeating Obama. Holding this as your first priority makes life easy. It doesn't matter who the Republican pick is; if he can beat Obama, we love him, and he's our man. We don't care if he's Hitler -- we love him if he can oust Obama, whom we've demonized into being Satan himself. (Can you tell I'm weary of this position?)
2. The Economy, Stupid. These friends hold their noses and vote for Romney because they believe he can fix the economy. Which economy? The US economy? The world economy?  Small businesses? Public worker pensions? Our personal fortunes? I'm not sure; it might be any or all of these. Quite a bit is wrapped up in the economy, for conservatives. It means getting rid of Obamacare, which is killing the economy. It means balancing the budget, stopping the bail-outs, reducing the deficit, cutting entitlements, and a host of other things impossible for one president to do. But Romney is sold as the economic genius, so people with this priority at the top, are voting for him.
3. Pro-Life! These voters have one item on their agenda, and it's a good one. I've often found myself in this camp, all other things being generally equal. They favor Romney because he's a Mormon, and we all know Mormons hate abortion. For some reason, their logic then leaps to the assumption that Romney will somehow cease abortions in the nation and (hopefully) overturn Roe. v. Wade. I hate to be a nay-sayer, but I just don't see this happening. Change in the abortion situation is happening on the state level, and even local level, and it's happening in a big way. But the president? He has a bully pulpit, but the bully pulpit is useful for lip-service.
4. The Supreme Court. To hear some conservatives talk, the only thing that the president is good for is appointing Supreme Court Justices. Sheesh! Those nine mysteries on the bench often turn out rather differently that people hope (or fear). That's the lamest possible reason, to me, to cast my vote for any particular presidential candidate.
5. Pick a Winner! I tell you, lots of people will only vote for someone they know has a chance to win. I also think that's a terrible reason to vote for a person. That means I must -- I MUST -- vote for the party man. I'm at their mercy. I don't even need to look at his personal positions, his history, his policies or his character. The only thing about the man that matters is that he can win. Ugh! At that point he's just a body in a suit, and the man himself is immaterial. And I tell you this: the party itself has only chosen him for his ability to win. That's all! They don't want a loser; they want a winner. They don't care anything at all about him, so long as he'll sell. Think about that. Is that the kind of mentality you want to use, in choosing the most important leader in the world? Oh, I wish people would use their brains. This priority is, of course, linked closely to #1. The two together can create all kinds of political mischief.
6. Get Me Outa This Two-Party System. This is for my conservative independent friends. They don't necessarily care how they vote, but they won't vote for any candidate from the two main parties. You occasionally hear this one. I'm sometimes tempted myself.

When I say that my priority is only Jesus's church, and His kingdom, do you think I sound pious and self-righteous? Do you think I'm crazy for even blending my religion with politics? I've heard many friends say that they think Romney's devout Mormonism doesn't matter at all; this is US politics we're talking about, after all, not choosing the next pastor at church! What does it matter what his religion is? In the US, everyone is free to believe what he wants, and to run for any office, right?

Right. Romney has every right to believe Mormonism, and to run for president, but that doesn't mean I have to vote for him. And yes, I can reject him based on his faith, if my priorities dictate that to me. This election has clarified this for me in a way no other election has. Before, I truly believed I was basically picking among a group of (or finally, between two) nominal Christians. Men who probably believed in Jesus, and sin, and at least parts of the Bible. They probably also believed they shouldn't let their faiths influence their governance much. I wasn't too happy about this -- I wanted a devout Christian who would take Jesus with him into the Oval Office. I did! Because I believe that Christianity is superior to other faiths, and it is better for our nation. Do you?

When we say that a man's faith should not influence his governance, we're saying there's a part of his life where Jesus doesn't reign. Do you believe that? I don't.

All evidence proves that Romney is an extremely devout Mormon. The Mormon Church is the heart and soul of the man. (And yes, I do think he'll take his heart and soul with him into the Oval Office.) Of course, he won't do anything to integrate Mormon theology into American thinking. He will not require holy underwear, nor will he ban coffee, tea, and alcohol. He will, however, do all in his power to bring Mormonism into acceptance as a normal, acceptable Christian denomination. That's been the open goal of the Mormon Church for several decades -- acceptance. Romney's election will be the crowning achievement of that church's goal, the inroad to its accompishment.

A cult wants to be called Christian.

And your vote will either help that effort, or prevent it.

(This is my blog, so yes, I can say that.)

I've made up my mind. Probably you already have too, based on your priority. But if you haven't, give it serious thought. In the end, I don't want to tell God that my first priority was my retirement fund, so I voted for a cult leader, and participated in the weakening of His church. I want to tell Him that I stood against the overwhelming tide, and chose His kingdom first, over other voices. I'll find myself another pro-life candidate who I'm sure won't stand a chance of winning, and I'll vote for him. My vote isn't wasted if it's cast with a clear conscience.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blogasbord

Well! I haven't done this in a while! Here are a few links that have been lingering on my computer:
Homeschooling can be better for your high schooler -- I like this article because it's the first time I've heard someone clearly state why good homeschooling will better prepare your child for college. We homeschoolers are usually so much on the defensive that we forget to tout our methods as socially and academically preferable! This article answers a lot of questions well. Homeschooling still isn't for those who aren't qualified or inclined to teach. It's not for everyone. And if you're going to do it haphazardly or indifferently, don't do it at all! But it can be done well, and when it is?  Your child gets huge advantages.


I Know Why the Fat Lady Sings -- Wow - what an interesting read! This article deals with the type of over-eating that is really an addiction, and fleshes out how society reacts to this addiction. While I'm heavy, I don't identify with this kind of eating at all, but it certainly made me more sympathetic toward those who suffer with it.

"Just Eat Stuff That Dies" -- This is a fabulous post by Nick, over at Macheesmo. I've heard this for years, regarding cheese.  The French are appalled that we put our cheeses in the frig. Cheese is alive, and you only put dead things in a frig. (Think: mortuary) Nick posits that if we only eat food that decays, we're eating real food, good food. Food designed to sit on a shelf for a year and look/taste the same, is terrible for you. Good eating rule!

Baby Hatches -- Click through to watch this brief BBC video of a growing trend in Europe -- baby drop-boxes, a Medieval custom allowing women to place their babies in safe places (rather than on cold, dangerous doorsteps where a kind person may -- or may not! -- check for a baby). Interesting.

Now, I'm going to wax political, so some of you may prefer to click away.

I have friends all over the political sphere. It's important, as a voter, to be informed about your candidate. Most people feel informed about Obama, because hey, we've known him for over 4 years now! I have many Republican friends who feel they must vote for Mitt Romney, even though they're not very excited about him. Any warm body, they think, is preferable to Obama.

I loathe that mentality. I patently refuse for my vote to be coerced by a political party, based on guilt. ("If I don't vote for him, I'm voting for Obama! Oh, the shame!" -- bleh)

If you're excited about Romney, that's great! Go vote for him with a full and happy heart. Likewise, if you adore Obama. We each are entitled to our preferences about candidates! But if, like me, you have a sick feeling in your stomach, as a Christian, about voting for Romney, then educate yourself! Are your fears unfounded? Is his Mormonism really no big deal? Or is it something worth worrying about. In that light, here are a couple of links for your perusal:


Do Mormons Believe that Jesus and Satan Are Brothers? -- Mormons have been back-peddling on this question recently, so it's helpful to read their documents to discern this issue. This is just one page, but go to Google and search it out yourself. Compare what they used to teach openly, to what they're saying now. Why would they "repackage" their words on this theology so much? Could it be for political reasons?

Gathering in Utah -- This is an article about the big gathering of Republican big-wigs (Karl Rove, Condie Rice, etc.) and Romney's biggest donors and deepest pockets. What I find fascinating is that it's held in Utah. He's drawing the Republican base over to his own religious roots. I truly believe that the Mormon Cult will use Romney's political success as a fast-track to getting Mormonism accepted by Evangelical Christians as a "type" of valid Christian faith. That's been their goal for a while. I've heard my Christian friends express this very thing. Glenn Beck started them on the path, and Romney will finish it up.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Soap, Soap, Soap!

I returned to Oriental on Saturday night. Adam told me my soap supplies were low, so I determined to make some more ASAP. I still have lots of lemon-scented soap, and I must say:  I'm not pleased with it!
The soap turned out beautifully. In the soap above, I also put lemon peel, soaked first in vitamin E oil, so it would remain bright yellow. But the lemon scent just does not last in the soap! On Saturday when he sold my soap at the market, Adam saw what I'd seen:  people pick up the lemon soap, sniff it, and put it back down. Then they buy some other scent. The lemon is a disappointment. So I'm not making it again!
But there's good news! I made more jasmine soap with cocoa coloring; it's been a good seller. Lots of swirliness going on in this batch.
And I made a lot of round lavender poppyseed. People love lavender. Ever Peter loves my lavender soap! Sorry this photo is dark.
And the last little dab of soap I made? A crazy blend -- my first blend of scents, and I ADORE it!! It's a lemongrass/tea tree/eucalyptus. This stuff smells divine. Mmmmm.
Gotta dash.

My Famous Brother

My brother Max will probably dislike that blog title, but hey! --when your own family-run business is on the front of a beautiful state magazine, that's something for your sister to crow about!
This isn't the first time that Max and Anne's blueberry farm has been written about in the public sphere. They've been in newspapers, and even a TV news clip, but I think this may be the first color magazine article. Plus -- of all the very-lovely photographs in a magazine chock full of lovely photographs, they picked Max & Anne's berries to be on the front cover!
Here's a few other pages from the spread. In the left photo, you can see the sloped edges of the massive nets that they drape over acres of berry bushes. They also have a small patch of raspberries for picking.
The family on the front porch. They look so much more ... um, ... settled and posed than they usually do -- haha!!
(I'd be negligent if I did not say that those four children work mighty hard on the farm too!)
Max and Anne have done a tremendous job finding that balance between a professionally-run operation, and a home-spun feel for the customers. Here's Max in the weighing/paying shed. They're organized and customer-friendly, but never an iota more commercial than is absolutely necessary. It's a farm and a home.
Alrighty. Anybody need some food inspiration to get you hungry today? Here's a lunch I had day-after-delicious-day at my parents' house: rotiserrie chicken salad from Ingles, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, all on Mother's homemade wheat/walnut bread. So good.
Go make you some!
I'm just posting these again because they are so beautiful.
I did come back home with a bag full of fresh blueberries. Have a  grand summer day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Victoria's Closet

In Cashiers, NC there's a gorgeous boutique you'll want to visit if you're in the area. Victoria's Closet  is an upscale resale shop. It's very large, but they keep the decor appealing, cozy and fun. Three floors of elegance and style! And at bargain prices. Every day, they have full price (but remember, these are resale, so even "full" price is a great deal), half price, and 75% off.
Cute mountain decor, even at the front door!
A full bed of roses greet you in the parking lot.
See what I mean about cute?! This is the lounging area, for any shoppers that have just worn themselves out with the fun.
It's mildly glitzy, adorable, sparkly, and soothes the savage beast in the best of women.
Lots of fun jewelry. A separate next-door building for shoes and handbags. AND another building next to that -- VC for Men -- that has men's resale items! Now those are hard to find!
This item is what forced me to pull out my camera and do this post. This hard purse bodice sits on the check-out counter. When they ring up the items, they tear the tag in half (to keep track of items for their consigners), and they drop the tabs in this purse. I giggled :)
You should stop by, you really should! Victoria's Closet is loads of fun, and you'll save a bunch of cash while buying fabulous fashions.

(Victoria's Closet didn't pay me a thing to write this post. I did it because I really liked that place!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peter Goes to the Deep Mountains

Today I took Peter further into the N. Carolina mountains - to Western Carolina University for his Orientation. I sneaked one photo of him. I have to sneak them with Peter.
This neck of the woods has beautiful lakes, soaring mountains, curvy roads.
Even the campus offers such views! Look at those distant mountains!
Peter probably won't be spending much time on this end of campus. He's a naturally athletic fellow, but he doesn't go to many games, and apparently they don't have a soccer team.
This will be his part of campus -- the main quad and the honors college area. Isn't it wonderful? We were both happy :) That building in the middle of the photo is his cafeteria, the Courtyard.
These two dormitories are for honors college students. I'm so happy Peter will be staying there.
This is the big, um, what do you call it? I guess this is the Quad, the courtyard, the square (except it's round). Very nice. I picture hundreds of students here, resting, studying, talking, texting, dashing to class.
Peter perused this and found it very fine indeed. I go pick him up tomorrow!