Sunday, December 30, 2018

Beauty Here and There

This will be a hodge-podge post. First, I failed to show you the toenails I had done when we girls went to the nail salon Monday before Christmas. This outing is a tradition for us now.
 I'd never chosen blue before. When the nice lady asked if I wanted sparkly snowflakes too, of course I said yes.

My first tincture is finished. I strained it off into these dark bottles. Three of them have droppers for dosing. I cleaned the old essential oil bottle very well before using it for tincture.
(photo bomb by baby Philip)
 I took my first dose a few minutes ago, and the taste has passed. But I cannot quite describe how utterly bitter and vile it is. One friend said, "medicinal," but I think that's kind. Still, if I can tell a difference (this one is supposed to be calming and good for anxiety), I'll take it.

I returned from the Christmas trip to find 15 eggs underneath a broody silkie hen. {{{{sigh}}}} I do not want a broody hen in January ever again! We threw the eggs over the back fence and into a ditch, and I've been stealing all her eggs ever since. She will not be setting eggs, no sirree!!

My youngest hen, also part silkie (with a prominent tuft of black feather crowning on her head) finally started laying. She's my only olive-colored egg layer. See?
 I'd been baffled in finding her a name. But as soon as she laid the egg -- a minute later -- I knew exactly who she is. She's Clementine.

Soon more gourd painting will commence. I have three dried and ready; Julia wants to do one. One is spotty, one is half-spotty, and one is small and funky. And see what I'm using for my paint brushes? A toothbrush holder from the thrift store -- perfect!
 This is a very nice one. I think Julia should pick this one.
I painted, varnished, and sold 2 of these gourds before Christmas, and I think they are just stunning. Here's my remaining one:

I can cut holes in the gourds with a small knife if needed; I cut a hole in the bottom of this one to string the yarn through pinholes in the bottom, and then glued the piece back in. I can also put holes through the neck of the gourd with a thick needle and thread the yarn through that way. I like them to have some thin yarn with a long loop above to hang the gourd. I want to get progressively creative and inventive in how I paint them, and in how I use the holes and yarn. 

I think I enjoy this particular craft because it combines growing something (all summer and well into fall, plus curing them) with painting ... and yarn too. All my favorite things!

Julia's here for a brief stay before heading back across the state for college. We had a lovely, balmy visit to Oriental, and more fun adventures will follow in the next week.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


We drove back home yesterday in all-day rain. That's exhausting. However, it gave us a tale of divine providence. The day before we left Chattanooga Adam bought new windshield wipers for our van at Advance Auto Parts. We'd need them for the 12 hour drive, plus the old ones were dry and scratchy. Fairly soon he noticed one wiper seeming to slip, and I heard it smack the windshield (or something?) occasionally, but it continued to work for hours of driving. We stopped twice for Adam to check it, fiddle with it, reverse it. Nothing seemed to make it right. Finally, somewhere in the middle of North Carolina (I really don't know where exactly), as I drove along, it came apart at last, while I was flying down the interstate. Yikes! I'd been using them as little as possible (which is scary enough), and now I quickly turned them off. "Done with that!" I said in a panic, and hunted for the next exit, which was only a few hundred yards away. I zipped down the exit ramp, looking for the first parking lot so Adam could get out and fiddle with that wiper again. It was a big exit; I had to turn right at a light. There was a car dealership. Then there was a McDonald's. I chose that. But as I'm nearing the burger place, I notice the store next to it: Advance Auto Parts.

Granted, there are quite a few Advance Auto Parts stores in North Carolina. Still, to me this was a situation of obvious divine assistance, and I was very grateful God popped in, at that moment, and said, "Yep. I'm here. Taking care of a little need. A windshield wiper. If I'll care for you this way, you can trust me for the big stuff." Or, as Jesus said it, "Your Father knows what you need before you even ask Him." And, "How much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those that ask Him?" I've been asking a lot lately, but a windshield wiper wasn't on my list.

Alright, here's a comparison showing what changes I made to the orange wreath this morning as I painted in the peace of my studio. Here it was before:
 And here it is now:
Subtle changes -- more background green, lost more little green branches, lots more red berries. 

Now begins my resting time (I hope) of the year. Winter hibernation. I'm not at the farmers market this morning, although it might have been a good morning for sales. But I need a break at some point, mostly for the sake of mental peace and deeper creativity. I need to write, and paint, and work on my gourd-painting too. Adam and I both find this little farm and our life here to be very calming and peaceful. That's a nice way of saying that it helps us in our struggle against constant anxiety and regular depression. I could probably benefit from a psychiatrist, or at least a therapist, and a bit of medication, but I'd rather use painting, music (lots of gentle music), chickens, working in the greenhouse, and puttering and fiddling around in my studio. I plan to get back to spinning wool again too. Beginning each day with a good dose of Scripture reading is my good medicine too.

Some weeping prayer this morning as I sit and read the miraculous Word. We are such a broken world, such broken people. I feel we are all walking around this planet, crumbling away as we go, trying to do some little thing with our lives. Meanwhile there is beauty and peace to be had, if we choose it. I pass my days plucking from my brain all the dirty evil thoughts, sad images, blowing out the accumulating muck and filth from this life, and simultaneously put in their places bright, small joys, sprigs of hope, and soothe the dryness of unhappiness with the balm of divine promises. The weeping helps too. Weeping at night; joy comes in the morning.

May you find peace and joy in the quite after Christmas as we all step into the new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Art with the Girls

Julia has been asking, "Let's paint together." So we did. We even got Kara to paint!
 I've been wanting to paint one of the Williamsburg wreaths I photographed last week. I chose this one:
This is what I painted:
 I can't help thinking my painting is not finished. It's missing something - perhaps just more fullness, more depth of color in the wreath. I'll work on it later. I like the distressed corners though.
Here is Julia's painting from today:
We used the same cookie tin top to start with a nice big circle. She opted for a space ship. She sketched it first and asked me what I thought the ship ought to be yanking out of the earth. I said a statue of Athena. She chose Medusa :)
I can't show you a photo of Kara's painting yet because she's not finished. Maybe later ....
It's later!
Kara at first claimed not to be able to paint at all. Julia and I begged to differ. Nice job!

Anna and Gramm left this morning to go back home, or we would've dragged her into our artistic pursuits too! We all drove to the Unclaimed Baggage store in Alabama first, before sending them on their way. Philip and I picked out a laptop there for me, which I'm using now. The other one was truly dying, and Philip will scrounge as much value as he can from it. Unclaimed Baggage can be a good place to find a great computer - I got a laptop that costs $1600 new, worth $350 used, for $230. It has lots more storage space.

We are all fooded out. Tonight we will snack on leftovers (which we've been doing for about 24 hours how), and maybe make some popcorn. We still have a cheesecake, a pumpkin pie, baklava, and chocolate cake. Ugh. Fooded out :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

December Twenty-Sixth

I'm typing this from my own laptop! Yippee! Philip diagnosed it as a bad power cord, and the cord was new, so we should be able to send it back in and get a replacement. What a relief! I was mightily tired of doing all my online stuff on my phone. I am not a phone person.
 Philip, Kara, and Julia had a lovely Christmas tree ready when we arrived Sunday night. 
Beau is having fun with Charlie and Matty, his ... cousins? Nephews?

 Adam gave me COAL in my stocking. Really!
 Not really ... he also gave me White Linen perfume, chocolate, and these four books by Elizabeth Goudge:
 He asked for this book, recently published in our denomination.
 On Monday we girls went shopping and had fun.
On Tuesday I was sick. On Christmas Day - a tummy bug which kept me lying down and not eating One Single Bite :(
Adam brought one of the Christmas crackers into the bedroom for me to open with him. I won and wore the crown. I gave him the chocolate, the joke, and the race car.

Julia became sick last night. She's off with friends to Rock City tonight to see the wonderful Christmas lights there. The rest of us went to Mackay's used books/CDs/movies store. I found a sweet children's book.
 Arnold Lobel is the artist (quite prolific) who illustrated my favorite children's book, Miss Suzy, by Miriam Young. His illustrations are very similar here.
 Mackay's reassured me of people's love of books and reading. I plan to take all my old homeschooling books to the Mackay's store in Winston next time we drive by there. Someone else will use and enjoy them, and I won't have them stacked on the floor in my guest room.

Monday, December 24, 2018

December Twenty-fourth

Christmas celebration has truly begun! Advent is a time of quiet anticipation,  but God is really into celebration too, right?

We girls went out today.  We shopped for make-up at ULTA and clothes at Ross. I escaped with only a facial exfoliator.

It's my oldest's birthday. He made his delicious pizza for everyone.  He's going to have a big cake.
Now they're all playing 'Settlers of Catan.'
 Julia LOVES to do that look.😎 oh goodness. I just noticed Adam's and Gramm's expressions!

Kara's nice uncle sent these amazing chocolate strawberries . Somebody's been nibbling! 

Adam's sweet mom also sent us her baklava, among other delicious things.
We're not fancy folks, but we have lots of fun together and enjoy each other during these rare holidays together.  We love and miss those who can't be here this year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

December Twenty-third

We are on the road to our kids for Christmas.  It will be a long drive, and we'll arriver very late. But we have dog support:
 In order ... Beau, Trixie, Ned in a box

 Adam baked "Chelsie buns" (attempting prop British usage) for the trip.
 I am not a good passenger as I age. Interstates make me nervous... well, to be honest, quite scared. 
I'm currently reading this book.  The author is pretty nutty, I think.  But she has an easy writer's voice. She doesn't cuss and she's not crass. I'm past the age when I worry that her poor life choices or unusual spiritual ideas will change my thinking.
 I'm glad I can appreciate her as she is: different from me, but still I can look for pieces of truth or wisdom there, where I find them.

The day is dimming. 
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. 
May you settle into the peace of Jesus's birth, the joy that God loves you so much he intervened into history to rescue us all. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

December Twenty-second

It's windy here! No rain in the forecast this week thankfully,  and no snow either. It might be one of those relaxing southern Christmases when you can play football in a t-shirt after Christmas dinner.
 I wove this scarf yesterday.
 I made new shampoo bars too. I'm surprised at how popular they are. 
 Fluffy scarves ... new lip balm
 I painted a little card for someone very special,  Adam's mother. This is her beautiful home in Nebraska. 
This was my last farmer's market for a while. I always take a month or so off during the coldest weather. I've had excellent sales all through the fall though. 
Hopefully my computer life will be up and running again soon, and my blog posts will have more to say! 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

December Twentieth

My laptop is dead yet again. Sorry for missing a couple of days, but the peaceful week somehow turned into the busy week. How do they do that? We were in Colonial Williamsburg yesterday for a fast day trip. Here are some highlights, including Christmas wreaths that I may paint later.