Tuesday, November 8, 2022

And Now It's November --

 It's been over a month since I last posted. What a whirlwind! October was lovely, but it sped by. The main thing that happened is that my daughter, son-in-law, and two adorable grandchildren came for a visit! The grown-ups quickly left for a much-deserved vacation, and the little ones stayed with Nana and Poppi for 7 days. Wow! I haven't done that before in my own house. (I usually go to theirs.) We had loads of fun, were very relaxed and mostly played inside and outside, and watched lots of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Beatrix Potter's World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. I missed them so much when they left to go home, but I was wiped out! I think it took me about 5 days to recover, haha.

At last I finished knitting the sweater vest that I made from my handspun yarn. It's a bit large, but that's better than too small. It's an extra layer for winter, to wear around the house.

I've been picking up so many pecans; this is a great pecan year! Today a friend is coming to pick some too. There are far too many for me. As you see in the photo above, the pecan leaves are covering the ground. We crush pecans when we drive out the driveway -- crunch, crunch -- and the chickens eagerly eat the meat inside. The baby chicks are babies no longer! They're nearly as big as the smallest hen, Bibby. I don't have a recent photo of them. And shockingly, I think they are all females! It doesn't seem possible, but I'm hopeful.

I'm slowly working on yet another children's picture book, this time a bedtime book full of sleeping woodland animals (well, except for the cat). Yesterday I finished the foxes.

I'm starting to write the text, which I want to be a poem, and yesterday I think I decided on its meter. I'm really enjoying this project. 

The farmers market is picking up speed as of last Saturday, and I must paint lots of cards this week, make Healing Herb Ointment today, and make a batch of soap. Phew! I also ordered more of my printed cards from the printer in New Bern. My packs of prints are selling faster than the hand-painted cards. 

I can tell Adam and I are getting older because we spend more time at the doctors' offices, and we talk about illnesses and medications. Ah well, that's what's important to you as you age, right? We are both doing fine. I've made some changes to my eating habits, and I'm feeling better than I have in the past 5 years. I cut out all sugar/desserts about 6 months ago. Then this fall I decided to begin intermittent fasting each day. It's not very radical, really. I try to eat supper about 5:00, and I don't have anything but water until breakfast the next morning, at about 9:00. It just gives my body a good fast, and gets my insulin levels down. It's a way to reverse pre-diabetes and (hopefully) avoid the awful medications for that disease. We shall see! I get blood work done next month, but for now, I feel really good -- less body pain, more energy. Hmm. See what I mean about talking about health issues? 

We have so many activities coming up with church friends and community events. It's a busy month. Enjoy the lovely autumn weather, dear friends, and remember to be thankful each day! 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Beloved Month

I told Adam that October 1st is my favorite day of the year. October is my favorite month, and on October 1st, I have thirty-one days of it to enjoy! 

Friday was an interesting day. Hurricane Ian was passing to our south, swinging strong winds and rain our way. With schools canceled, Adam was home. We enjoyed the day indoors, him sewing and me knitting and spinning. It was lovely. He made pumpkin scones.

I'm feeling so much better already, with cool weather and the departure of summer. Hooray! I'm also on a new eating schedule. Pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) has caused me to start a 16/8 diet schedule, where I don't consume anything but water between 5:00 pm and 9:00 am. It's not that hard to do, and it can really be good for you ... and it's so much better than taking medication, although I may have to do that too, eventually. But so far, I'm feeling so much better!

My doctor also prescribed a little something (medication) for anxiety, a first for me. I think that's helped also.

What have I been reading recently? Well, I read Miss Read's Changes at Fairacre, Tea by the Nursery Fire by Noel Streatfeild, and am now in the middle of Haven Kimmel's interesting pseudo-memoir, She Got Up Off the Couch. I have a precariously leaning tower of books on my bedside table, and another on my vanity, all of them waiting their turns.

Life has been fairly quiet here (except for that hurricane). I've adjusted to being home by myself during the day, and have taken the "be productive" pressure off myself. When the weather turns cool, my favorite thing to do is burn sticks and branches in the burn barrel in the mornings. It's sheer delight. 

I've started making my own pecan/peanut granola.
And how could I forget to tell you about the five baby chicks that were hatched by Henny Penny about 3 weeks ago?

They are so healthy, and she is such a good mama. I'm thrilled to see that all five have survived thus far. Three are "naked neck" birds, like their daddy Mr. Sparky. I'm not at all certain, but I have hopes that four of them are hens. We can hope! Think of all the eggs I'll have then!

I've been doing a lot of knitting -- LOTS of felted slippers, and I'm quite far along in a sweater vest, but not far enough along to show you photos of it yet. But it uses this yarn that I spun in July:

I did make a second wet-felted bowl, but no more. I'll wait to see whether I can sell them before I make a dozen, haha.
I take way too many photos of Leo. He's so very cute. I'll go find a few of them to share with you, and end there. All is well with us, and I hope all is well with you also, dear friends! I'm over on Youtube more than I'm here, if you're looking for me :) Take care, and God bless --

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Hello, Tomorrow!

 What's tomorrow? Tomorrow is the first of September!! I'm so happy to wave August good-bye, with all its heat. September might not feel much better right away, but at least it is an "-ember" month, and it must usher us into the cool delights of the ember months.

I hibernate indoors during summer and do creative things, as you know. This has been The Summer of Felting. I showed you the hats before. Then I moved on to slippers! Oh, what joy! 

I think I've felted about eleven pairs of slippers.

Felting is unpredictable and time-consuming, and I may have finally perfected the knitting pattern that I use to make these slippers. It took a lot of knitting, trial, and error.

This week I moved on to wet felting. Rather than knitting an item and then washing it to felt it (shrink it), wet felting uses straight fiber, wetted, soaped, and rubbed for hours, in order to make a piece. I started with a rectangle that I may turn into a book cover. It's about 8"x7".

I immediately made a larger one that was more challenging:

I like the colors, but I don't like making objects that seem to have no use. So yesterday I decided to make a bowl. I watched a long video by an expert felter called Nicola Brown, set out all my wool fiber, and launched into it!

That's more like it! I'm quite happy with that bowl, but it took 4 hours of hard work (as in, physical labor) to produce it. I'll wait a few days before I do that again. I love the look of felted wool. I hope to be doing this for a while.
Adam is back teaching school now. His health issues continue, and we plug away, one day at a time. It's not easy. Our lawn mower has been broken and in the repair shop for nearly 2 months. A very kind neighbor did mow the house lot a few days ago (with many thanks from us!!), but it doesn't look like the rest of the weedy property will be mowed anytime soon. SIGH.
I took a trip with a friend to Montreat, in the lovely mountains of North Carolina. Then I visited my mother and family in West Virginia. Both trips were designed to let me escape from August's unrelenting heat, and I knitted and felted slippers as I traveled. Now the temperatures have dipped into the 80s, thankfully. 
You'd think I'd be truly sick of crafty activities, but I'm not. If I do get tired of one, I just rotate to another. I haven't been doing a lot of painting, but I did finish these three "sleeping animals" pieces, which are 9"x12".

I think I like the rabbits best.
Here's a photo of Leo, and of my mother's geraniums, and then I must dash. 

All the best, dear friends! God bless!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Whatsoever Things

 A daughter of an old friend shared a "story" on Facebook that she found on Twitter. I don't do Twitter. But I did find the Tweet from Hannah Anderson. Anderson said so many good things, but here's an example:

"We only have a certain amount of time, attention, & resources. If we devote them to being anti-culture, we cannot devote them to forming healthy culture. We're passing along something, to be sure. But it's not the gospel. It's not a sustainable faith."

Basically, Anderson is saying this: Be careful about being against things. Don't be against the culture, but don't be against the church. If your life is full of "anti-things" and "no," you will reach the bottom of that well and be empty. You can spend your life being against things (even evil things), but it won't fill your soul or bring you happiness. 

We need to spend our time making good things, beautiful things, joyful things, whenever we can. The gospel is the good news, not the anti-news.

Like Anderson, I was entirely brought up in a Christian culture that was against; we were all about rejecting people and ideas. It defined us. We were anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-Democrat, anti-drugs, anti-divorce, etc. You remember. We called ourselves pro-life, pro-marriage, Republican, clean-living, etc. But we spent most of our mental time being against things.

It's exhausting.

Now it's also popular to be against the church, against institutions, against whatever the other side is. I have friends on both sides of this pitched battle. I'm tired of it.

A scrap of paper on my desk reminds me:

Sometimes the ugly in life jumps up and bites us, and we must deal with it. Some friends feel called to be warriors in the Ugly Fight. I don't. Most of us are struggling to get our legs out of the quagmire of cultural sadness from all sides. I want a saving rope of beauty and goodness to come down and rescue me from the quicksand, don't you?

Perhaps this is why the part of Facebook I still enjoy is the groups -- "Spinning Fibers" and "Handy Women" and "Creating Hygge" and "View from My Window." All these groups consciously foster peace, beauty, or encouragement inside a community of humans. No meanness allowed.

It's hard to change yourself at almost-60. I was trained for decades to be against things, and was told to raise my children the same way. It's heart-breaking now to think of all the opportunities for joy I missed with them. (We did have many, but not enough.) I can try to change myself for my remaining years, though. This Bible verse has been rattling away inside my head for many days:

"Make it your ambition 
to lead a quiet life 
and attend to your own business
 and work with your hands." 
I Thess. 4:11

That sounds like a lovely life, yes? I'm trying. Wishing all you friends the very best, and if these words are helpful at all, I'm glad.

Hannah Anderson's website is here.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Height of Summer!

 It's been a little over a month since I posted -- too long! Apologies. I'll glance through photos, choose the best, and then chat with you about what's happened since the middle of June ....

We spent five glorious days together in the North Carolina mountains on vacation in the same home we stayed in last summer. It was warm, the river was cool, we tubed twice, and fishing was enjoyed. I took a chilly drive up to the top of the Blue Ridge Parkway with my son one morning for the amazing views.

I've been spinning a LOT. There's a casual online event in July for spinners called the Tour de Fleece (haha). I've set a goal to spin enough yarn to knit myself a vest for the autumn. Here's what the yarn looks like:
Shortly after the big family vacation, our son and daughter-in-law and grandson came for a visit here, which was absolutely delightful. Philip worked so hard on our property, but we also enjoyed a day at the beach.

I've been knitting and felting hats, and am surprised both by how well they've turned out, and how inconsistent they are in size. I need to practice more.

For reading during these warming days, as I hibernate in the air conditioning, I've plowed through two of Josephine Tey's books, Miss Pym Disposes and The Daughter of Time. If you want reading that will prey on your brain, make you debate with yourself, and generally cause you befuddlement, I recommend these two. I'm currently in Anthony Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds. I pulled it off my shelf for a reread because a group read/zoom discussion was going on in the Facebook Trollope group, but I started too late to participate. Still, a good read. Trollope's fortes are character crafting and plot development. He's a master!

Lastly, I have finally figured out how to put my little children's book, The Thanksgiving Mice, on my youtube channel as a read-aloud. I've been pondering this for years. Here's the link to the video. Please share it with the little children you know (maybe ages 5-9 or so?) The world needs more silly books about naughty mice, don't you agree? Lisa, I wonder if your sweet grandkids would enjoy it?

In addition, Adam has been sewing up a storm this summer, making hats, suspenders, trousers, and vests. He's revamping his wardrobe. Church happenings keep us busy with friends, and he has only a month left of his summer break before he's back in the classroom teaching middle school science. We are getting old(er), but we don't seem to be slowing down much!

Blessings to all of you! I will survive August, and then we will eagerly await autumn -- hooray!!

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Thank you for the reminder, Lisa --

 Hello, all. I popped over to Lisa's blog to read her latest, and realized I'd not posted for quite a while as well! I always think summer will be slower, but it never is. Ah well.

Adam has been on his summer break for a week, and he's hit the ground running in his sewing adventures. There is so much creative energy in the house! It's lots of fun chatting about what he's making, what I'm making ...

I'm sewing little fabric bowls. They are ridiculously easy, and it's silly that I love them so much, but I do. I've made four, and will certainly make more.

Like Kate Jackson, I saved all my little scraps of fabric from the other projects I made. Then I decided to sew them together in a hodge-podge sort of way, and then cut it square, put some batting in it and a back on it, and run some bias tape around the edge. It's not fancy, but it sure was fun!

It was supposed to be a doll's blanket for my granddaughter, but it's really too stiff. It's sitting in my studio instead, being decorative.
This is a new piece of kit that Adam got me for my birthday -- a tapestry loom. I finally admitted that my big rigid heddle loom was NOT going to work for tapestry weaving, and I'm so very happy with this loom. It's made by Grebstk. I'm almost finished with my first piece on it:
I had many more cards printed this past week, from watercolors I'd painted and scanned before.
All of these are pretty new, except the geraniums. I especially like how the sunflower turned out. I sell 5 of them (with envelopes) in a pack. These sold very well at the market today. I thought this batch of 300 cards would last me for many months, but now I'm not so sure!

The chickens have been rather naughty. Mr. Sparky, the new roo, is often too scared to enter the pen if I'm in there. He's spent a couple of nights on the loose. The hens have been quite naughty and started laying their eggs in mysterious places in the yard. Today I discovered 8 eggs under our deck. They may have to spend some time in Chicken Pen Prison, so they remember how they are supposed to behave!

This lovely book is my new, very favorite devotional book. It's all Scripture.
The man who compiled the book, Jonathan Bagster, has combined many various pieces of Scripture for each day, twice a day, on various topics. Combining 7 or 8 passages of the Bible like that takes a deep knowledge of the book, and it's done in such a way that it makes connections among the passages that I'd never thought of before. It has sparked many new thoughts and feelings of wonder and thankfulness for God's Word. 

It's nearly mid-June, the weather is heating up, and our schedule is speeding up. I hope to have some time with the grandchildren soon, which I'm over-the-moon thrilled about!
Happy summer, friends!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

I'm Sewing Again!

 WAY back in the day (40 years ago ... 30 years ago ...) I sewed a lot. I sewed my own clothes, and they were just as silly-looking as the thrift store clothes I wear today, haha! But patterns became expensive, and fabric became very expensive, and I stopped sewing.

Recently I've been watching some old Kate Jackson youtube videos. (Kate Jackson, an older lady from Northumberland, UK, not Kate Jackson of Charlie's Angels!) Kate quilts, but she also makes small sewn house decorations: pillow covers, window and door hangings, little throws. So I held my nose and jumped into the pond of sewing again. I followed her video instructions for a Log Cabin pattern pillow cover:

Front (above) and back (below). I prefer the back. Obviously, I did an inferior job coordinating the strips of fabric, and ended up with that whole swath of solid pink ... bleh. But it was a first attempt, an educational moment.
Love the envelope closure - so easy!

I'm now working on pillow cover #2. It will be better, I hope. Here is the Log Cabin front piece, done yesterday:

I also did a little window hanging using a method that Kate calls "pixel pictures." I ironed some carefully-measured squares of fabric onto a square of fusible interfacing, did some sewn seams according to Kate's instructions, and ... tada!!

I was pretty pleased with the result, and Adam congratulated me on my measuring accuracy. It's tiny, no wider than my hand, but I wanted to discover if I enjoyed it before I committed to a large one. Kate has large panels of this kind of thing in her home. She makes pillow covers with them too. She has another method for making a similar project into full-size curtains. I'm not trying that yet!

I'm knitting the final square on my 2nd mitred square blanket!

My foray into sewing has coincided with Adam's new interest in this hobby also. First he worked hard to refurbish my very old treadle Singer machine. Then he bought a $5 White machine at the thrift store. Then he bought a $50 Japanese machine online. He's gone crazy for sewing! He wants to make clothes for him and for me. I'm in favor of that, as long as they meet my high standards for Bohemian Hippie attire :)

$1/yard - not bad! Lightweight linen-like fabric

We've been buying fabric at the thrift store nearby. Apparently a lady donated over 17 big tubs of fabric! She was going to open a fabric store, and changed her mind.

Meanwhile, Leo:

"Mom, I blinked. Take it again."

His favorite spot. Beau's favorite spot too ...

I made kissy noises, and he turned around.