Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Blue Hour In Winter

As I drew the curtains closed this evening, I saw that it was The Blue Hour.

Venus was shining so beautifully, so I decided to snap a few photos.

Our winter has been mild overall, with a few patches of cold weather.  I think spring is actually going to be early this year, but I do hope we don't get a late hard freeze after this mild weather, so we do not lose the blossoms an fruit trees, which is what happened last year to the local cherry trees.

We do love our local orchards full of wonderful cherries, peaches, and apples.

Unexpected Journey

Hi friends!

I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day.  I'm spending the day with my husband.  I left cards and treats for my kids to find when they wake up!

Our dinner and a movie was a big success last night.  

Tim and I are headed to Florida, to stay a few days with his mom.  This was a planned trip for him but not for me.  It will be a whirlwind trip, but a necessary one.

When we return, Isla is coming for a visit along with her mama and daddy.  So exciting!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mentoring Monday: Quotes By Sally Clarkson

"I have blown it many times with my children, but even these mistakes have helped me to mature and depend on God more than I would have without my parenting responsibilities. As I walk honestly before God, with my children watching, they will learn how to have a real relationship with him as well. As they see me apologize to them and pray in front of them to ask for God’s forgiveness in my own life, my children will learn that God is a God of grace who forgives me and guides me.” p. 87, The Mission of Motherhood

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dinner and A Movie

On Monday we are having dinner and a movie at church for couples.

We have a small church and will be having only 6 couples attending.  I'm going to set up 3 round tables and have two couples at each table.  

My thinking (at the great suggestion of my husband) is that each table can be set up so that everyone can see the movie easily.

I am planning white tablecloths, low candles, flowers, pretty dishes and napkins.  We'll be eating chicken, spinach salad, fruit and desserts.  We'll probably have sparkling juice, too.

The movie is the 1938 Academy Award winning, "You Can't Take It With You" starring Jimmy Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Lionel Barrymore.  It was directed by Frank Capra.  Its such a good movie!

I'll be sure to take photos.

That's what I'm working on this weekend.  What are you up to?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Giving New Life To An Old Clock

This clock has been a part of our lives for over 20 years.

It used to keep time, and chime prettily.  It wasn't our first choice for a clock.  Our first choice was one I loved and when we moved to Pennsylvania 23 years ago, it got damaged.  It was still under warranty, but as the way it goes sometimes, they no longer sold 'our' clock anymore.  This one above was the only option to replace it.  So we took it but I never loved it.  After it stopped working, we never changed out the works, because I didn't care.

 It occurred to me recently that I could paint it and even if we didn't replace the works, it would look better - nice even, and fit in our decor.  I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old Ochre.

We are happy with it, though it needs a bit of tightening up with the wood.  We are thinking of getting the works replaced now, too.

What do you think?  Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mentoring: Self Care

As women we have many responsibilities - home, marriage, children, work, school, caring for parents.  The weight of all we have to do - even when it is all good things and there are no crises - can overwhelm us.

It's important to take care of yourself, but usually women do for everyone else and put themselves last.  There are stages in our lives where the care of others is a priority, but we must learn to carve out time for ourselves, in order to sustain the ability to care for others.

What might that look like?

When my children we all small, I stayed up late.  It was a toss up - sleep or time for myself.  I chose time for myself.  I would watch a movie or read, take a long bath.  I always would light candles  or at least make sure there was soft lighting.  I needed peace and beauty.

I usually didn't do work - though I might fold laundry if I was watching a movie. Mostly this time was for me to recharge.  To have time to think my own thoughts, without interruption.

This is especially important for someone who is raising a special needs child, or caring for an elderly parent.  We may not be able to get out of the house, but we can make space in our lives and our home for a place of refreshment.

Maybe its a chair by a window with a little table, where you can drink a cup of tea or coffee and read, or listen to a podcast or watch the birds at the bird feeders outside.

We need to think about what fills us up, and encourages us.  Perhaps for you it is the chance to be creative, without lots of little hands getting into your 'stuff.'  Maybe its the chance to get out for lunch with a friend.

I have a dear friend with many children, who can't get away from home often, so she created a little space in her bedroom, with two comfy chairs and a table between them. She has pretty pictures and things that speak beauty to her and she invites a friend to come one evening a week for tea and conversation.  When I went we talked about music, decorating, our kids (who are married to each other).  We drank tea, shared our hearts and had a wonderful time. She has found a way to have a fun time with her friends, and to fill her soul.

Maybe its a chance for the kids to sleepover at your parents house for one night and letting you sleep in, and just do whatever you want for the day.

Perhaps a friend of the family, would come for a visit with your elderly parent, and while they have a good time together, you can slip out for a breather.  Sometimes we think we need big chunks of time away, and that may be needed in certain situations, but I think that small bits of time add up, too, and may be easier to come by.

I know I don't know all the details of your lives.  I don't even know what my needs may be in a year from now, as our lives and circumstances change.  But I've learned to take time, even just an hour or two, to refresh and encourage my spirit.  

We women are needed, but lets make sure we are caring for ourselves - being in the word, eating well, reading, listening to music - so that we can continue to love and care for those whom the Lord has placed into our lives.

What are some ways that you practice self care?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Home Keeping: Replacing Towels

Recently, I've noticed the lack of decent towels in the house.  It has snuck up on me.  We've had most of our towels for many years, and since they were still in okay shape we used them.

Most of us now have a particular towel we use for showers and the other towels are 'extras', used by those without a particular towel or guests.  Most of these 'extras' will be moving into the rag box.

We seem to have a ton of hand towels, many stained.  I've often wondered how towels, that are to dry hands that have been WASHED, can get stained.  Badly.  Can anyone explain that to me?

For a while I had been talking about getting all white towels.  They look so great when you stay in a nice hotel or resort, don't they?  But the reality, at least for us here at the cottage, is that they would only be nice for a few weeks.

When I mentioned that to Tim last week, he said, "Why don't you just buy a different color?"  It was like an epiphany!  Seriously.  I was married to the idea of all white towels, until he said that.  Now I feel the freedom to get something different! Lol!

So now the big question is what color?  I thought of all navy.  I love that color and it wouldn't show a stain very easily.  Tim says I should just buy any colors that I like.  I do LOVE color, but I wasn't sure that I wanted the towels to look like the circus was in town.  

When we had all six kids living here, we did have different color towels for each kid.  That was helpful on many levels, especially for training little ones to make sure they hang up their towels to dry! It was easy to see who had forgotten to hang up their towel!

I think I'm going to enjoy the process of buying new towels, hand towels, and wash cloths.  We are in serious need of wash cloths.

What do you do at your house?  All one color?  Different colors?  Do you have different towel colors for different bathrooms? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What I Did This Weekend

We had a really nice weekend.  Sunday we didn't watch the big game, but I called English Country Dances for a nice group of friends after church, and then in the evening we watched a movie at home.

I bought some yarn on Friday and knitted this cowl this weekend.  I wore it out to dinner tonight.

I've been reading these books and since I hop around, it's taking me a while to get through them.  I'm okay with that as part of the enjoyment of reading is the journey through the book.

Emma sent me this photo of Kyle as a baby.
Wasn't he a darling baby?  He'll be 12 this year.  Unbelievable.

Nate will be 28 this year, Lindsay is 25, Emma will be 23, Rachel will be 18, Sarah will be 15, and Kyle 12.  How can my kids be getting so old when I am still so young?! lol!

I'm so thankful for the relationships we have as a family.  There have been really hard things along the way, but God has always been faithful and good.  That's because that's who He is.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Heart For Mentoring

I had a mentor/friend in my late teens and early twenties, who walked alongside me through life and encouraged me in my walk with the Lord.  I loved to spend time with her with no real agenda - we didn't formally study the Bible or anything like that.  We just talked and shared life and spoke naturally of the Lord, and how His Word was impacting our lives.  She was older than me by about 10 years, was married and had children.  She was busy, but I've never forgotten her heart for ME, and how she made time weekly for us to get together.

I've gone on to follow this pattern, with teenagers, or young moms, and my own children - my daughters especially.  A group especially on my heart are home educating moms.  They have taken on a task to not only educate their children, and if they are wise, to disciple their children.

I write for our state home education magazine put out by the Coalition of Homeschoolers Across Pennsylvania (CHAP).  This quarter I wrote about mentoring and its importance, and I thought I'd share it here with you.  I've written it for homeschool moms but it can apply to all of us as women to come alongside younger women to encourage them.

                     A Challenge For Experienced Homeschool Moms                    

I recently became a part of an online homeschool moms group. I’m not sure why I requested to 

join, since I don’t normally do these kinds of things. I have a lot of homeschool experience (I’ve 

been home educating my children for nearly 23 years), and I am comfortable in the way we 

homeschool. I guess you could say that I am confident in my choices. I also belong to a really 

great co-op that has worked hard at encouraging one another being key!

Imagine my great surprise then, when first day, first thing I read is ‘here is a your chance to post 

a rant.”  Wow!  There were many comments and all of them rather ugly. I get that 

once in a while we need a listening ear to express frustration. However I am certain that a public 

forum is not the place for this to happen. Once words leave your mouth, or you hit send on your 

keyboard, you cannot get them back.

My heart was grieved as I read some of the things these women said about their kids, 

husbands, in laws. I KNOW I don’t know their situations, or their frustrations, but that is kind of 

my point. In these days where we all can post our ‘opinions’ about every little thing, I was sad to 

see it playing out on an online homeschool forum. Would I really want my mom to post publicly 

that I had been really annoying and a bother to her for the whole world to read? I can tell you 

the answer is NO, and I know that my kids would feel the same way.

I began to wonder if these women had any help in their day to day lives, from friends or 

extended family. I wondered if anyone had a mentor, someone who’d been through the trenches 

of parenting and home educating. I have a heart for mentoring women, especially 

homeschooling moms, but I wonder sometimes if many home educators, when they finish with 

their last child, ‘retire’ so to speak. Do any stick around home educating circles to be that voice 

of encouragement, or that shoulder to cry on? 

I will be done with my last child in about six years. My plan is to stay involved with homeschool 

parents, to continue to be a part of a moms group. May I encourage you to do the same, Moms?  

We know we don’t know everything, but our years of experience count, and just wanting to 

encourage and cheerlead these younger moms on is of great value!

These women in the online group needed someone in their real life to say, “I know, I

understand, it will be okay.” They need someone to be their cheerleader, to remind them that 

it is a hard job somedays, but it is of eternal value, because your children are made in the image

of God and are of great worth to Him. The need know there is someone who will listen, and

care.  Frankly, some moms need to know that they will get through these hard days and see

fruit. It will happen!

My deep concern for the things I read that day, are that these moms are building resentment 

toward their children. They need to be reminded to seek God for the answers to our loving 

challenging children. He made them and knows them, and knows what they need.

Can I challenge you moms who are nearing the end of your homeschool days, to look around 

you at the young moms just starting or those who have kids getting a bit older, and walk along 

side them? They need you whether they know it or not.

Let’s remember to pray for homeschooling moms. Pray that they will follow God in the path He 

has for them. That they will love their children, that their husbands will encourage them in their 

work as moms and teachers in the home, and that their children will be a delight to them. Let’s 

also ask God to give us a mom to mentor and encourage.  It will make all the difference in the 

success of their homeschools.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Weekend Plans

Today, I've got Home Keeping Chores on the schedule.  Laundry to fold, bathrooms to clean, food to prepare, dusting, vacuuming.

So I thought I'd show photos of my granddaughters, since they are nicer to look at than a dusty bookshelf!

I do have my handy dandy helpers (Kyle and Sarah) so it won't take too long to get those jobs done.

I'll also be doing some on plan treat making for me, and some for the family.  I may do some knitting as well.


Tomorrow, after church, the kids at church and some of my co-op students will be English Country Dancing.  I bought snacks for them to enjoy and we'll be done hours before the big game starts.

We'll be seeing this girl in a few weeks!  I can't wait!

What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Another Clan Story And Tea Cup

My daughter and I got so excited when we found our Campbell tea cup that we went online and found a matching MacDonald tea cup on Etsy.  A week later it has arrived!

My family, the McElrath's (MacIlwraith), as you know are part of the MacDonald clan.  Our family has Covenanters in its lineage and even a Covenanter martyr.  

You may have noticed that our spelling is different now than it was in Scotland.  The story goes that our covenanter ancestors fought against the English at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge for the right to worship freely, and not be held to they way the Church of England worshipped.  Our side lost that battle and rather than being killed, the family lands were confiscated (there is a lovely farm in Ballentrae called Auchenflower.  We enjoyed seeing it when we were there), and the family forced to go to Ireland.

There overtime the name was changed to an Irish form and when Oglethorpe wanted farmers to help him settle Georgia (in the New World) he came to Ireland.  One of my ancestors went to help build an agrarian society there.  That's how at least one McElrath got to America.

Now my clan tea cup sits side by side with Tim's clan tea cup.  They are making me very happy to look at them.

I'm joining Bernideen today for Friends Sharing Tea.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Fun and An Not So Fun Parts Of Raising Chickens

It's a beautiful day in at Creekside Cottage!  The sun is shining and it feels like April more than February!

 When we step outside from the kitchen door, the chickens greet us, with lots of clucking, and then come to the end of the chicken run nearest to us.  They are nosy and cute.

 One of the roosters in is the front here.  They have beautiful coloring.  The roosters are both Partridge Cochins.

The hens are different breeds.  We have Partridge Cochins, Silverlaced Wyandotte, Marans, Ameracuana, Australorp, and a few mixed breeds that we've bred. They are funny in their personalities, and they give us great eggs.  

We moved them in the autumn to where they are now, closer to the house rather than next to the barn, because we wanted to keep them nearer to the house for the winter.  I'm not sure if we'll move them back because this has worked out very well.

We used to let them free range all day, and they loved that, but they began laying their eggs in a mystery spot that we never found!  They had a few favorite spots that we knew, and when the eggs stopped being found during peak egg laying time, we began to hunt for their new spot, and never found it!

We don't have the chickens just for pets, we have them for the eggs, so this was not an acceptable thing.  It went on for weeks - no eggs to be found!  So, Tim moved them and now they have the protected, enclosed run to hang out in until the mid afternoon, and then we let them out.

This has worked very well.  They are laying great, in the nesting boxes, and are happy.  We're happy, too.

Now if we can just train them to stay out of my front garden...

 They love to scratch around in these flower beds, and its great for the soil but they make a mess!  

They also like to sleep up against the house in the sunshine.  They make these little cozy spots for themselves, while the roosters keep watch over them.   Its cute, but its a mess, and they have ruined all my tulip bulbs.

Everyday we are vigilant to chase them out of here with great noise and scare them, so they won't want to come into this space.  It works for a while and then they will try to come back in!

This is the reality of chickens, but obviously the benefits outweigh the negatives!

Do any of you raise chickens?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Happy February!

I'm enjoying my big shelf over the stairway.  This is one of the best arrangements I've had on it.    It feels fresh and I can leave it until Autumn if I want, though that is not likely to happen.

Here is the extent of my Valentine decor - 

I do have red things in our living areas because that's my color.  Oh, wait!  I forgot these red hearts - 

Our winter has been so mild (with a few pockets of cold weather) that I keep having to remind myself that its still wintertime.  I just hope that we don't have a super hot summer, in exchange for the mild winter temps.  Heat and humidity are not my friends.

I'm working on organizing dinner and a movie for the adults at our church on the 13th.  It's not technically a Valentine's dinner, but I hope to bring some nice ambiance with some candles and pretty tablescapes.

 We started our day off with a breakfast date and some shoe shopping for Tim. We are such a romantic pair! lol

Now to get to our history and science work for the day!