She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Place For Me ~

Linda of Behind My Red Door recently posted about where she blogs. She prompted me to spruce up my journaling spot a bit. I really desired a place that just feels good when I sit down to business and pleasure.

This old computer has been all over this house. I've tried it in every room, but now that Jase has his own laptop, I've moved it into my bedroom where I can enjoy being surrounded by pretty, feminine things while I'm working. So I carved out a small and practical corner in our bedroom where I can do my sewing and enjoy my computer time.

So here is where I sit and visit with you. So many of the little treasures I've surrounded myself with are gifts from my sweet online friends. I love the old tag hanging on my lamp. It says ~ "The Lord bless and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!" It's wonderful to sit down and be reminded of that blessing daily.

Mary created the pinkeep wall hanging and the Grandmother's garden quilt block. The workmanship is just amazing and so inspiring. Jeffrey bought me my own little Beatle Bug matchbox car so I could race with them ~ I thought that was so sweet. Other reminders of my friends are from Linda, Paula, Rhonda and Patricia. Thanks for making my special place even more special.

To my left, I have set up a table for my sewing machine and notions. I completed the stitchery on the wall named "Job's Tears" while I was carrying Colton. It's very special to me because it reminds me of yet another time that the Lord carried me through a trial. The first pinkeep I ever got was the little lady mouse sitting on the stacked boxes. My husband saw it at a yard sale on his way home from work years and years ago and brought it home for me. I've loved pinkeeps ever since.

The little white basket with the pink rose is my latest pinkeep creation. The small chest of drawers is a recent Goodwill find that I hope to paint black sometime in the near future ~ its on my never ending list of projects that I can hardly wait to do! My grandmother's old fruit jars are filled with an assortment of old buttons. Can you ever have too many buttons? And the two little silver containers are recent thrift finds that I plan to repurpose into pinkeeps. Aren't they just lovely?

And to my right, I have set up an antique ironing board. I really do use it for ironing when I'm making dolls or aprons. I don't mind leaving it up like I would a regular irong board. Of course, it is currently covered with fabrics and charm packs that I just can't bear to put away. But I love to look at them for inspiration. You know, I can look at them for weeks and weeks, and then one day I'll look and know exactly what I need to do with it. I couldn't do that if it was neatly place in a box out of sight, could I?

Behind the old ironing board is a very old ladder. I found that old ladder at a yard sale when I lived in Chicago. (I've been thrifting for a very long time!) It was at a house about 10 blocks from my home and I bought it without realizing it would not fit into my tiny car. Well I had already envisioned it with quilts hanging on it and could not leave it behind, so Jase & Luke who were just little guys ~ maybe 10 & 6 years old ~ carried that ladder all the way home for me while I slowly followed in the car. They thought it was great fun and of course, used it well to climb trees before I finally moved it indoors for my quilts. Such a fun memory!

Well now it has been sawed in two pieces and this one holds four old quilt tops that I have found in my treasure hunts. I especially like those that have incorporated feedsack materials. Three of them are all hand-pieced and the bottom one is hand quilted as well. I suppose I treasure them because I know how much work some dear woman invested in creating them. I often wonder why they were never completed and ended up discarded ~ but I take good care of them and their efforts are not forgotten.

So now you'll know where I am when I visit with you. This will probably be my last post for a while. I am hopelessly behind in visiting and can hardly wait to catch up and see what you've all been up to! Maybe I'll get to sneak in some time tonight.

Be sure to stop by Leslie of My Country Home to see what other gals are working on this Wednesday.

Most importantly of all, Jase is doing very well. His spirits are high and he is keeping busy with school and work. I can hear him down the hall laughing with his brothers ... life is sweet!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Frugal Handsoap

If you're like our one-income family, frugal living is not just fashionable but often a necessity. We're always looking for ways to live a little simpler, a little less expensively and more environmentally friendly.

Have you noticed that all my photos are taken on this same counter? Someday when Colton outgrows his school table, I hope for a nice hoosier-style cabinet with lots of drawers and extra work space ... but until then ...

This frugal hint is one that meets all those criteria and is very simple to implement.

In our family, we use store bought liquid hand soap always buying the jumbo size bottle to refill all the small hand dispensers in the house. Recently, I've found a way to make the jumbo size bottle last well over 10 times longer.

Just purchase several of the prefilled foamable hand soaps from your local store. After you use up the soap in them, simply reuse the foaming handsoap dispenser by adding 2 teaspoons of the liquid handsoap and then slowly fill the individual hand dispenser with water to about 1/2 inch below the top of the bottle. Invert the bottle several times to mix the water and soap ... and you're ready to go with a whole new bottle of foaming soap.

If you like your foaming soap a little thicker, just add an extra teaspoon of liquid soap to the water. I like the foam because it doesn't slide off little hands and right down the sink. It sticks making it easier for little ones to wash their hands successfully.

I love this idea because in it not only saves money, but also reduces waste. That's ten less plastic bottles that will be filling our landfills! Multiply that by the number of bottles of soap you will use a year ... and multiply that by years ... you can see the impact that this one little change can make.

Of course, you can use this idea with your favorite liquid hand soaps from Bath & Body and make them last much longer as well.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blessings Abound Even In Trials

Jeffrey & Jase on our Sunday walk

Friday was a tough day for us all. I think we were all a bit shocked to find that Jase's EKG was abnormal. Somehow deep in the recesses of my heart, I wanted to believe that each family is only allowed so many trials in their lifetime and if that was true, surely we had met our quota! I suppose I was having a bit of a pity party. In reality, I know life holds no such guarantees and trials will remain a part of the journey until its our time to go Home.

Well, we visited the doctor to gather Jase's records and were asked some astounding questions that I can't even bring myself to repeat. I felt a bit faint myself, and Jase was so scared. We returned home and while the boys busied themselves with some game time, I turned on the computer and was just overwhelmed with the prayers and support and scripture that so many of you shared with me. It was just exactly what I needed. I closed my door and wept and prayed and finally scooped myself up with renewed strength.

Yes, there will be trials but I KNOW God is right here to hold our hands and lead us through the dark. He has given me a peace (the kind that surpasses understanding) and strength that I truly did not possess three years ago when our family was confronted with its darkest moment with Colton's health battles. Sadly, I did not handle that one with grace. And I know that any strength or grace that I now possess is from God alone. It is a blessing that I would not have gained had I not traveled that difficult path. And so though I would not choose to repeat it, I find my heart grateful for the blessings that arose from that challenge and choose to view this next challenge as a path to something much greater. And though I don't know the outcome, I do know that my character and Jase's will be further refined by the fire and that we'll emerge on the other side victorious and stronger still.

And each of you, too, are gifts from the Lord. Thank you for bathing Jase (and me) in prayer. This morning, our family gathered around the computer and read aloud your prayers, scriptures and encouragement. It was such a blessing to us all and I know that Jase was encouraged as well.

And God has already answered one of those prayers. We were able to secure a new appointment with a cardiologist for Jase at Vanderbuilt in Nashville. We are now scheduled for February 25th ... much better than waiting until late March.

Jase was in much better spirits today. We enjoyed some family worship time and then headed to the woods for a hike to enjoy the little hints of springtime that are beginning to appear. Jase was teasing and being his silly self which was good for my "Mamas heart" to see. It was a happy day.

Jase taking a moment to "chillax" in the hammock.

Luke in his handmade fort.

Colton & I showing off our nature treasures that we collected.

If I could, I would stretch my arms from Washington state to Australia and give you all a big hug. (I'm a hugger!) And though I am truly never at a loss for words, I struggle to express how much I appreciate your care. Somehow I hope you'll know.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sweet Annies & Pinkeeps ~

Lately, I've been enjoying bits of time in the evening to indulge in some creative sewing. I know that soon spring will be here along with lots of outdoor work and not much time for handwork.

Just last night I put the finishing handwork on these two little darlings. I put some hand-stitching on each of their dresses and made them each a grubby bunny to love.

These little cuties never made it to my shop but have found a home, but I'll be making another soon.

This weekend, I'll be putting them in my Etsy shop or on eBay. I haven't quite decided yet. But I do know that I am going to begin working on one for myself tonight and the boys suggested I make a bunch of bunnies to tuck around the house so I'll probably do that as well.

Then I made this little pinkeep. I find such pleasure in discovering unusual containers to create pinkeeps from. This time I found a tiny teacup painted in blues and yellows. Isn't it sweet?

And here is a pinkeep that I made from a miniature tin watering can.

And finally, here is the paint and the wallpaper border that I'll be using for my laundry room. That project is still on hold but I need to finish it soon. My dad is coming to install a nice shelf for me above my washer & dryer. Don't you just love shelves? I don't plan to use it for practical storage, but want to decorate it with lace and old laundry & kitchen items. Since I spend so much time in that tiny room, I really want it to be a happy place!

Be sure to stop by Leslie of My Country Home to see what other gals are working on this Wednesday.

Blessings & joy,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

From My Kitchen ~
Old Fashioned Apple Cake

I just have to share a wonderful recipe that I discovered at Mandy's Mayberry State of Mind. It is a very old recipe and turned out so good that both Jase & Luke declared it "Awesome"! That, my friends, is an excellent review especially since Luke doesn't even enjoy cake. So thank you, Mandy, for adding another recipe to our Family Favorites!

Aren't these just the prettiest little apples? And their taste was amazing. I bought them for juicing but they were perfect for this cake. Every apple should taste so good!

This cake is heavy and dense but the fresh apples add just the right burst of juiciness ~ is that a word? Well, that's what they do anyway.

Miss Earline's Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

3 apples peeled and chopped
2 1/2 cups flour (use self rising, or plain flour plus 4 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp salt)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Need help peeling those apples? Just get one of these apple peelers and they'll be begging to peel "just one more"! LOL My boys declare it the most effective ingenius invention of the 20th century.

Just dump all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and hand mix. The mixture will be very thick and heavy.

Then spoon the mix into a well greased and flour bundt or tube pan. I used an old angel food pan and it worked great!

I wish I could remember where I got this old, heavy pan. It has more writing on it than a short novel! Even the Department of Agriculture has to get their little statement engraved on the pan too! It says that it is a Re-Kul Pan O Cake ~ Propety of Luker Cakes of Urbana, Illnois. Apparently, they made their Angel Food cake and sold them in the pan which could be returned for a refund within 10 days! It has an address on the bottom where you can send for the free recipe as well. Wonder if the company still exists? I might just give it a try.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until done.

The finished cake without the glaze drizzle. It was soooo good!

Mandy suggests that if you'd like a little extra sweetness, you can make a sweet glaze from powdered sugar and just a bit of milk to drizzle over the cooled cake. I didn't use the glaze but I'm sure it makes it extra pretty as well.

Next time I make this recipe, I'm going to try to replace a portion of the oil with applesauce and then try replacing the entire cup of oil with applesauce. Applesauce is a great oil replacement in most baked goods. Just replace an equal amount of oil with an equivalent amount of applesauce. It cuts calories and tastes great. After 40, it seems every little calorie counts! LOL

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! If you give it a try, be sure to stop by and thank Mandy for sharing her old family recipe with us.