Friday, February 29, 2008

Crocheted Dishcloths

After knitting or crocheting several afghans last year, lately I've been enjoying smaller projects. Cotton yarn (which I love to work with) is great for making dishcloths, so when I came across The Big Book of Dishcloths pattern book, I couldn't resist trying my hand at some of them. There are patterns for 99 different dishcloths in the book. So far, I've made 9 of them! It would be fun to try them all, but I'll probably get tired of such small projects before I make it through the whole book. Besides, what in the world would I do with 99 dishcloths? Save 'em for my daughters' hope chests, I guess. Anyway, it will be a fun book to have on hand for when I'm in the mood for something small in between larger projects.

So. For Show & Tell Friday, here is a picture of the first "batch" I've whipped up. Which one is your favorite?

Show and Tell

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #16 - "E"


Continuing with my alphabet theme, here are 13 things in my life that start with the letter E:
  1. Easley. My mother's family.
  2. Education. I love to learn... and teach!
  3. Eldest. I am the "big sister"! I have 4 younger siblings.
  4. Elena. My cute little red-haired niece.
  5. Elizabeth. My other cute little even redder-haired niece.
  6. Email. What did we ever do without it?
  7. Emily. One of my favorite girl's names.
  8. English. My best subject in school.
  9. Eternity. What I strive to keep in view.
  10. Europe. Where my ancestors came from many generations ago.
  11. Evening. My favorite time of day.
  12. Exploring. We like to get off the beaten path and explore back roads.
  13. Ezell. My dad's family.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spring Bag

Isn't this a sweet little tote bag for spring? I came across a free crochet pattern at the Sugar'n Cream Yarn website and just had to try it. And, just like a recipe, I had to make my own modifications as I went along. (Nothing major. I just used a different method for joining the squares, and I made the strap to suit myself!) I thought it turned out cute. It's just the right size for a little (or big!) girl to carry her Bible to church in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cougars in the Woods

A couple of school boys, probably about 10 or 12 years old, were walking past our house a few minutes ago when I let the dog out. She ran out to chase them and it startled them, so I ran after her. I assured the little boys that the dog wouldn't hurt them, and she backed off with her tail between her legs like the timid little critter she is. The boys were relieved that the dog wasn't going to attack them, but they asked me, "Are there any cougars in the woods back there?"

Since we live in town and the said woods are only about an acre in size I told them, "No. I don't think so. I've never seen or heard of any."

They were utterly convinced that the woods are inhabited by cougars because, "We saw their tracks." They were serious.

No doubt they expected me to freak out and run screaming back to the house, letting the "big strong men" protect the women and children from large invading wild cats. "I think you probably saw kitty-cat tracks," I told them.

"No!" They were sure there were much bigger cats lurking. "The tracks were this big!" And they held up their hands to indicate tracks the size of saucers.

"Oh, yes," I said. "But, see, when the snow starts melting it makes the tracks look bigger than they really are."

Yeah, they had to admit I was probably right. Guess I shouldn't have spoiled their adventure, huh? What a story they had to tell all their friends, until some boring ol' mom came out and explained all the excitement away.

The picture is one I took of our cat's tracks in the snow back in January, when the snow was fresh. I was out taking pictures of it and Tabitha was stalking me. I thought her little cat tracks in the snow were so cute, that I snapped a picture of them. I haven't been out to the woods to investigate the alleged cougar tracks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Buying a House

Such excitement! It's been a whirlwind weekend... but I think I should probably explain my cryptic post of Saturday night. I was talking to my Mother on the phone yesterday. She said, "Would you please interpret what you posted on your blog? What does that mean? Is it Spanish?" No. It isn't Spanish. It's Latin. And it means "Glory to God alone."

You see, we've been living in northern Idaho for nearly 10 years and all this time we've been renting. We've lived in 4 different houses, some more comfortable than others. By the time we had lived here long enough that we thought we might be in a position to buy a house, the market was just terrible with over-inflated prices. So we decided to wait it out. Recently we have been told that "now is the time", so we started looking again.

Buying a house Signing papers for that much money is a scary thing to me. I had almost talked my husband out of even starting to look, when I felt a check from God about letting my husband lead. So I told my husband, "Okay. Let's go for it, but proceed with caution. At the first sign of a red light, the deal is off." He agreed to that and made appointments for us to talk to the banker and look at property. The banker gave us a green light, so that was the first door to open. The first house we considered was a modular home. The banker said we could get a better loan on a "stick built" house in the same price range, so we kept looking. The next house was too cramped and laid out weird. It would drive me crazy. The third house was cute, but again too crowded. The fourth house was "just right" so we made an offer on it. (No, it's not my dream house. My dream house includes a wrap-around porch and a fireplace :0) ...but our family will be very comfortable in this house, and I'm content with that.)

We found out Saturday evening that the sellers accepted our offer... and if all goes well we will be closing on it in less than 3 weeks!! Tomorrow we go for the home inspection, and I think that will be the last main hurdle before closing.

I am trying to be excited about what God is doing, and trust Him to work out all the details. My worry doesn't help anything.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Soli Deo Gloria


Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it...
Psalm 127:1

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Twig Rooster

For today's Show & Tell I "brought" this fun little rooster that Granddaddy carved for me from a twig in the fall of 1994. We had gone camping at Beaver Lake in northwestern Arkansas, not too far from where my parents and grandparents lived. We invited them to come up and have supper with us one evening at the campground. They were delighted to do that. My parents were completely occupied playing with and entertaining our 2-year-old daughter who was their only grandchild at the time. Grandmother and Granddaddy were happy to sit around the fire and "visit". Grandmother had brought along her crocheting, and Granddaddy had his pocket knife. He wandered around the campground a little while looking for just the right twig and this interesting piece of driftwood, before he settled down to whittle. This cunning little rooster is what emerged from the twig by the time the evening was over. He mounted it on the driftwood and presented it to me with instructions on how to varnish it. Granddaddy made many beautiful much-more-elaborate woodcarvings over the years, but I treasure this little rooster he whittled that evening at our campsite because it's the one he made for me!
Show and Tell

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #15 - "D"


Continuing with my alphabet theme, here are 13 things in my life that start with the letter D:
  1. Daisies. One of my favorite flowers. I love seeing them blooming in the mountains in June.
  2. Darrell. My dad. His blog is here.
  3. Date night. We like to go to Borders for coffee and browsing.
  4. Daughters. I am blessed to have two who bring me great joy.
  5. Denise. My middle name. I was named for Mrs. Denise Stroud, my mother's high school home ec teacher.
  6. Dishcloths. I like to knit them from cotton yarn.
  7. Dodge. My husband's pick-up truck which he thoroughly enjoys.
  8. Dog. We have an adorable border collie-beagle mix who is a sweetie!
  9. Doilies. I enjoy crocheting and decorating with them.
  10. Dori. My sister. Her blog is here.
  11. Dotted Swiss. A favorite "vintage" fabric. Do they even still make it? I haven't looked for it... just haven't seen it much lately.
  12. Drives. My husband loves to drive. I love to look at the scenery and talk to him. So one of our favorite activities is going for drives.
  13. DVDs. I've been enjoying collecting season sets of old TV shows such as Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and The Andy Griffith Show.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

Did you see the lunar eclipse tonight? We had the fun of watching it with a telescope! A couple weeks after Christmas we got a telescope for our family at an after-Christmas sale. It had been $100 and was 75% off! We had studied astronomy for science during the fall semester, so had developed something of an interest in star-gazing. It was really neat to be able to pick up a decent little telescope for $25. However, since it's been so cold outside since we got it, we hadn't even taken it out the box before tonight.

This morning my daughter heard about the eclipse on the the news. She was hoping her daddy would get home from work in time to put the telescope together in time to watch it. I told that the most important thing was if the weather was clear. A telescope wouldn't help us if the skies were overcast. But the weather cooperated and Daddy got home in time... so we got to observe the eclipse up close.

The telescope even came with a camera that you can hook up to your computer, but we were scrambling just to get it put together, so we didn't get any pictures... this time. I understand that this coming Sunday night will be a good time to view Saturn. Maybe we'll get the camera attachment figured out by then?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Purity

We attended a lovely Valentine wedding on Saturday night. One of the young men from our former youth group got married. It was a sweet ceremony. There was one portion of the ceremony that I had never witnessed before. Before the pastor had the couple exchange vows he said he had a few remarks to make and then the bride would like to say something. The pastor talked about the couple's parents and grandparents who were all seated on the front row... and how they all represented solid marriages. There were 3 couples in the group who had been married over 50 years. He challenged the young couple to follow their parents' and grandparents' examples.

Then he asked the bride to share. She turned to the groom and began to pull a ring off her hand. She said, "When I was 13 years old I promised my daddy that I would keep myself pure for the man who would become my husband. And I have. So I want to give you this ring as a sign." And she put the purity ring her daddy had given her into her almost-husband's hand. The congregation broke into applause as the groom tucked it in his pocket and took her hand to exchange vows.

It's too bad that such a thing is no longer taken for granted... but I thought it was a special way to honor a commitment to purity.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Tray of Cookies


Here's the tray of cookies and candy the girls and I made to serve at Bible study on Wednesday night. We don't usually make a huge to-do over holidays... for example I don't seem to take the time to put up special decorations or host parties... but we do enjoy making special treats for special occasions, just for a little festivity!

The beautiful 3-tier tray belongs to my 15-year-old daughter. It was passed down to her from my mother who received it as a wedding gift in 1965. About a year ago, Mother was cleaning out cupboards trying to get rid of things she and Dad don't have a use for. She asked me if I would like to have her cookie tray. She said that parties and showers are usually at their church fellowship hall these days, and they use disposable trays, so she didn't really need them any more. Since my daughter seems to have a special gift for hospitality I suggested Mother give it to her. Mother liked that idea, and my daughter was thrilled to receive it.

Over the years my mother used her trays for parties and showers. As a pastor's wife she had many opportunities to entertain. But she also used her nice things for "just the family" on special occasions. Even if we weren't having company she usually had us set the table with the china and nice flatware for holiday meals. She believes that if you have nice things you ought to use them... not just keep them put up.

Show and Tell

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #14 - "C"

Continuing with my alphabet theme, here are 13 things in my life that start with the letter C:
  1. California. Where my husband is from.
  2. Camping. A favorite week-end activity.
  3. Candles. I love the soft light and fragrance of candles in the winter.
  4. Caramel. I like it better than chocolate, believe it or not!
  5. Cheesecake. My favorite dessert.
  6. Christian. "I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian... I'm not ashamed His name to bear."
  7. Coca-Cola. My favorite soft drink. I also decorate my kitchen with vintage Coke collectibles.
  8. Coffee. Make mine a decaf caramel latte, please.
  9. Comments. A treasured benefit of blogging.
  10. Cook. Celebrating my 24th Valentine's Day as Mr. Cook's sweetheart! <3 I love you, Darlin'!
  11. Cookie. Our sweet black-and-white dog. (Named after our family and the fact that her face somewhat resembles an Oreo!)
  12. Cotton. My favorite fiber to knit or crochet.
  13. Crocheting. A great way to keep my hands busy when watching TV or traveling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Signs of Spring


I enjoy living in an area of the country where we have four distinct seasons. Summers are mostly pleasant, sunny days with just enough days of extreme heat to make us feel like we've really had summer and be grateful for the cooler fall days. We have pine forests, so the fall colors are more subdued here than they are some places, but the occasional brilliant maple against the dark pine green is a thing of beauty. And for being so far north we really do have relatively mild winters. Okay, so we really got dumped on with snow this year... but that was unusual. (And it wasn't just a little more than we usually get it. It was a lot more!) Just like the extremely hot days of summer, we have just enough extremely cold days of winter to feel like we've had winter. Otherwise, it's mostly cloudy and chilly, as winter should be. But, oh, the spring! I am always so ready for spring to come. I try not to "wish my life away" waiting for spring, but I do eagerly anticipate the "time of the singing birds and the flowers appearing on the earth."

Now. I didn't establish the calendar or the seasons. You didn't think I did, did you? But if it was up to me, I'd probably rearrange things just a bit to make spring last longer. According to my notion, it can be winter from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day, spring can be from Valentine's to Memorial Day, then it can be summer until Labor Day, and fall can come between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Who said the seasons had to start according to the sun or the moon or something? Oh. Somebody far wiser than me, I guess. I have no doubt that it's a good thing such things are not up to me.

But Valentine's Day is tomorrow and spring is coming! Just last week I heard the kids say, "It's already 5 o'clock? It's not even dark yet!" (It gets dark around 4:oo during late November and December.) Then when I went to the grocery store and saw a display of happy primroses I just had to buy some to bring home a little "promise of spring" for the kitchen table.

So I've moved my spring countdown ticker up to the top of the page, and I'm watching out my window for more signs of the coming season. It's time to be wrapping up our winter projects and start preparing for our summer activities.

There's a good lesson here. As I watch for signs of spring, am I just as eagerly watching for the coming of Jesus? There is work to be done as we wait, but there is also an urgency to be ready to go soon. And while it will happen in the "twinkling of an eye," just like the coming of spring, there are signs everywhere. It's not going to "sneak up" on us. I want to be watching and working!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Favorite Books


My sister-in-law posted this challenge a few days ago. I had to think about it awhile. I just love books... many books... so it was hard to narrow my selections down. Even the ones I finally settled on may not necessarily be my final choice. Oh. And in many cases the Bible would have been the best obvious choice. Truly the Bible is the only book we really need. All the others are just "gravy". So my answers are "besides the Bible..."

  • Best Political Book: I can't remember if I've read any political books. I do read many genres but I don't think I've delved into that category much, at least not in book format. My sister-in-law's dad is our state treasurer so she follows politics more closely than I do. She recommended Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity, so I think I'll start broadening my horizons with that one.
  • Best Classic Christian Author: Francena Arnold (Not My Will)
  • Book That Most Changed My Life: Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti helped me realize the importance and power of prayer
  • Best Classic: Jane Eyre
  • Book I've Read More Than Once: all the Little House books, all of L.M. Montgomery's, many, many more
  • Best Christian Fiction: And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
  • Book I'd Want on a Desert Island: a Methodist hymnal (to go along with the Bible)
  • Best Young Adult Novel: Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
  • Book That Made Me Cry: Rilla of Ingleside
  • Best Children's Book: Oh, so many! Curious George, Babar, the Frances stories by Russell Hoban, Winnie the Pooh... somebody stop me!
  • Book That Made Me Laugh: One Step Over the Border by Stephen Bly
  • Most Valuable Collateral Reading: You Can Teach Your Child by Ruth Beechick
  • Book I Wish I Had Written: Anne of Green Gables et al (or at least I really admire L.M. Montgomery's writing style... I'm sure I'm not qualified to write girlhood stories set on Prince Edward Island a hundred years ago!)
  • Book I Am Currently Reading: (I always have several going at once, usually from different genres!) Closer Than Your Skin by Susan Hill, Holding Hands, Holding Hearts by Richard and Sharon Phillips, What Lies Within by Karen Ball, Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith, Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
  • Best Spiritual Book: Revival Fire by Wesley Duewel
  • Favorite Children's Illustrator: Garth Williams (Little House books)
  • Book I Recently Finished: Adam by Ted Dekker, Only Uni by Camy Tang, Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear by Sharon Dunn
  • Book I Started but Never Finished: The Scottish Chiefs (Someone recommended it to me when I was in high school so I gamely checked it out of the library. I think I read about half of it before I gave up on it.)
  • Favorite Poet: Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken, Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening)
  • Favorite book: Pleeeeeeeease don't ask me that!!! I can make up a list... but don't ask me to pick one favorite! I can't do it!
  • Next to Read: The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck
Feel free to copy and paste to your blog and share your favorites. If you do, be sure to let me know so I can visit and see your list!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: chicken enchiladas, spanish rice, green salad
Tuesday: chow-mein stir fry, fried rice
Wednesday: 9-bean soup, cornbread
Thursday: lasagna, green salad, garlic bread
Friday: pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, tater tots, cole slaw

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Tooth Fairy

I was just slightly baffled when my little girl presented me with this scantily-clad fairy figurine for my birthday a couple years ago. Obviously, my daughter thought it was a beautiful piece of brick-a-brack, but my mother had taken her shopping and I really thought Mother had better taste than that. The first thought that went through my mind was, "Surely she didn't mistake it for an angel?!" But it all became clear when my daughter sweetly asked, "How you like your tooth fairy, Mommy?"

I don't know why I didn't recognize the tooth fairy immediately! Now she occupies a place of honor in my bathroom, which is where all scantily-clad figments-of-the-imagination belong!

(Oh. And just in case you wondered, if you saw my Show & Tell about Sits a few weeks ago, my house is not completely decorated with tacky knick-knacks!)

My sister posted a cute story about the tooth fairy visiting her home earlier this week, and that reminded me of an incident from my childhood that I wrote up in my NaNoWriMo memoirs. So here's the "tell" portion of my Friday Show & Tell post:
I lost a tooth while we lived in the trailer-house on Granddaddy's property, when I was in first grade. At our house we didn’t put a lost tooth under our pillows for the tooth fairy to find. Instead Mother had us put it in a glass of water on the table. I don’t know if anyone else ever did it that way, or if that was something Mother came up with… but I’m sure it was to help serve as a reminder to the "tooth fairy" to not forget to trade the tooth for some loose change. So I put my lost tooth in the glass of water and I was determined to watch for the tooth fairy and see her when she came.

(Mother says she never tried to make us believe in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, but we did anyway. I believe her, because I’ve done the same thing with my children. You can explain all you want to, but children are great pretenders and can believe about anything!)

As I was carefully watching the glass with my tooth in it, one of my teenage uncles came in. When Mother explained that I was watching for the tooth fairy he said, “Oh! I saw the tooth fairy flying around outside. You better go outside and see if you see her out there.”

So I did.

And would you believe? The tooth fairy took my tooth while I was outside! I never did see her. And mother and whichever uncle it was declared that they hadn’t seen her either! That tooth fairy. She’s a sneaky sort of character.

Show and Tell

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bloggin' Blessing

I've seen this little candle on several blogs recently. It seems to be making the rounds... and today it lights up my blog as a special "blessing" from Rachel at A Romantic Porch. I guess the idea is that if someone dedicates it to you, you're supposed to post the image on your blog and dedicate it to some of your blogging friends who are a special blessing. Then you can keep it on your side-bar if you like. I don't know if there is a certain number of people you are supposed to name... but I decided to limit it to three. Otherwise, I'd probably end up listing everybody on my blogroll... which I guess would be okay... but in the spirit of the game, I'll keep it down to these three:
  • Dori at A Moment in Time, my sweet sister who has been blogging along with me for several years. We were reading each other's blogs back when no one else we knew was blogging! Her most recent post, about The Tooth Fairy, has inspired my post for Show & Tell this week. You'll have to come back tomorrow to read the story and see what I have to show you about that. (But you can go ahead and click through to Dori's blog to read her cute story! Tell her I sent you.)
  • My childhood friend, Denise Truesdale, with whom I have recently reconnected through the "magic" of blogging. I am enjoying catching up and getting reacquainted with her.
  • Farrah at Light in the Sphere who just starting blogging a few days ago, but already has several very interesting posts. She struggles daily with physical challenges but has a such a sweet spirit that she it is an inspiration and blessing to me.

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #13 - "B"


Continuing with my alphabet theme, here are 13 things in my life that start with the letter B (in alphabetical order):
  1. Back Roads. A fun way to travel.
  2. Bargains. The only thing I enjoy shopping for.
  3. Bees. My dad had honeybees when I was growing up. He plans to get more soon.
  4. Bible. "I stand alone on the Word of God... the B-I-B-L-E."
  5. Bike Riding. A family activity we enjoy.
  6. Biscuits. I have finally learned to make good ones. The secret is baking them at 500 degrees.
  7. Blogging. A great way to keep in touch.
  8. Blue. My car is blue... my favorite color for cars.
  9. Books. I have no idea how many I own, but it's well into the thousands.
  10. Bookstore. I could live in one. I really could!
  11. Brothers. I have 2. My husband has 3.
  12. Brown Eyes. My husband's are beautiful!
  13. Bubble Bath. The perfect way to relax.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Favorite Web Stores

"Works for Me Wednesday" has a theme this week. We are all to share our favorite web-stores. Here are some of mine--with links, of course! If I left off your favorites, feel free to share them in the comments!
  • Amazon. I suppose this is probably on everybody's list. I like that they usually have the cheapest prices and free shipping on orders over $25. I have even set up my own store-front listing all of my favorite books, movies, and more!
  • CBD. A great source for Christian materials, with good prices.
  • Deep Discount. I've ordered DVD box sets from them a couple of times, at prices even cheaper than Amazon.
  • Sonlight Curriculum. This, of course, is where I order my homeschool curriculum... and "just great books."
  • Timberdoodle. Another great source for homeschooling materials and fun games for your family. I have gotten to know the family who owns this company at some of my homeschool conventions, and I really admire them.
  • A Romantic Porch Boutique. Unique gifts and collectibles.
Online shopping works for me!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Half-a-million Business Cards!

Did you ever wonder what 500,000 business cards would look like? Probably you didn't... but I think it's impressive enough to show you, anyway!

Some of you know that my husband is a printer, and when the print shop got in a huge order for business cards recently, he suggested that it might be blog-worthy. I offered to make him a partner on this blog and let him post about it, but he declined. Said I write better than he does. I don't know so much about that... but I promised to post about it if he would take a picture for me. So he did. And there you are!

Obviously, the business cards haven't been cut apart yet. They are run through the press "sixteen-up" which means there are 16 on each piece of paper. And being the good homeschool mom I am... let's have a little math story problem here, shall we?
A customer ordered 500,000 business cards. The printer can get 16 cards on one sheet of paper. There are 19 stacks of paper (what the printer calls "press lifts"). Approximately how many sheets of paper are in each stack?