Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Garden Prep

We have been reading and learning more about gardeningWe want to do things that will allow us to grow healthy foods.  

This year we decided to try putting paper down, then wood chips.  This will get rid of the grass and weeds and also help the soil.  We'd like to be able to plant without having to till.

 Of course the first nice day in a while, was also the windiest.  Not great for trying to place paper downBut we got a system going.

 Here Kyle and Rachel are spreading the wood chips.

 Sarah and I both drove the mower today...She and Kyle worked hard - they are champion wood chip spreaders!

 We are blessed to have the hardest working man as the head of our family! He went to the township office and brought back three truck loads of wood chips.  He also shoveled them into the barrow and hauled it over to the garden area.

 Rachel and Sarah basking in the sunshine...

Here is the whole space seven rows of paper covered in wood chips.   I didn't measure the space so I don't know the dimensions.

We plan to grow tomatoes, peppers, squash, green beans, sugar snap peas, corn, lettuce, onions.  We are going to try for pumpkins again, and maybe melons.

We have quite some time before our last frost date which is May 15th.  Sometimes if the weather is mild we plant before then.  We are hoping the wood chips will break down well. We'll see.  It's all about learning new things.

Do you garden?  If so, what are your plans for this growing season?
Are you planning to try something new?    

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Books...

Monday, January 28th, was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  Being big fans of Jane's here at the cottage, I have read her books, watched the movies - and have decided opinions about them, and have read many of the prequel or sequel books.

Imagine my surprise this past fall to find out about a new friend, after she and her family returned to Ireland, that she is not only a Jane Austen scholar but an author of two fantastic books about Mr. Knightley!

These books tell the story of Mr. Knightley, but it is not really Emma from Mr. Knightley's point of view.   These are books that tell his story.

I loved reading about his work as the local magistrate, his care for those in need in the parish of Donwell, his friendships with the new curate at Donwell, as well as his friendships that we already know  from the book Emma.

However, the author Barbara Cornthwaite develops the relationship between John Knightley - who is married to Emma's sister, and George Knightley, big brother of John and neighbor and friend to the Woodhouses of Hartfield, through letters between them to show their character, humor, and brotherly affection - which includes of course, some good natured teasing.  I really loved this part of the books.

The books are so well written that they really stand alone.  You do not have to have read Emma or really to know much about that story to enjoy these books.

You can follow Barbara on Facebook here.

You can buy her books on Amazon here.

You can find out more about the authors at Crown Hill Publishing here. 

If you love Jane Austen or if you simply love to read, I highly recommend these books by Barbara Cornthwaite to you!

If you read them, let me know!  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Delight Filled Weekend 
You Can't Take It With You

Have you ever watched the 1938 film by Frank Capra called 'You Can't Take It With You?'  We watched it Friday night and it set the tone for the weekend!  It was such a fun movie, great for the family!

Saturday we went to our friend Nick's basketball game.

Nick is number 30.  He plays on a homeschool co-op team.  They play against Christian schools. They had a great game, and to celebrate we went out to lunch for pizza.  Then we went back to their house and visited for a while.  We love this family and enjoy fellowship with them on Sundays mostly because they live about 40 minutes away.  While at their home they were talking about wanting to rearrange their living room but weren't sure how to do it.  A few minutes later we had a plan and were moving furniture!  

As you may know, if you have read here for a while, I LOVE doing this!  With their big boys and Tim and their Dad we had moved all the furniture in their small living room into a great seating area!  The flow of traffic is good still, too, as this is so important!

We came home to enjoy a movie with our friend Denny and our friend Sarah.  

Sunday was a nothing planned Sunday so we had invited a family to come for lunch.  I slow roasted at turkey overnight, and we had potatoes ready to go as well as green bean casserole and corn.  

We decided to invite a new family (a mom and 2 sons) over, as well, and then also to include another family, so we had 28 people here for lunch.  The others brought things to fill in the meal - rolls, applesauce, cranberry sauce, drinks, desserts.  It was perfect!

I love being able to share our lives.  Our friends are going through residency at Johns Hopkins and living far from their family and support system.  We love being able to be that support for them during this time.  The new family is sweet and there are big changes on the horizon for them, our other friends are dealing with the stress of an elderly mother with dementia who now needs constant care that the father can no longer give.  They live four hours away, also, so they are making frequent trips across the state to help get things worked out.  Their hearts are burdened and saddened.  

It was a joy to give them a respite from their cares, for a while, to laugh and talk, and then later to share and pray together!  

The kids played together beautifully all day - Lindsay even went out and did sword fighting with them, which the 10 year old son of the new family thought was awesome!  Emma played Monopoly and painting fingernails on countless girlies, and of course we had to have a bit of a tea party!  Sonja and Asher KNOW they can count on me for Chamomile tea, raw honey and milk for their tea in their wee teacups I keep just for this purpose!

I went to bed tired but so thankful.  It is a joy to care for others and to know that it is appreciated.  It fills my soul.

Was your weekend filled with delight?  Did you see the beautiful full moon last night? Sigh...such beauty!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Work Of Her Hands

I've grown to love to work with my hands to create usable items when I have a few free moments or when we are watching a movie.  I've noticed that Emma does the same thing - she's always grabbing her knitting.

 I'm working on a baby blanket in navy and light blue out of my yarn stash.  I am hoping I have enough.  I like to make small blankets that are easy to use with a carseat.  Just big enough to tuck around them and make those wee babies snug and cozy.  Our church has three little ones due in April and May.  All boys.  I need to work fast!

 I also like this stitchery from Rhonda at the Down To Earth blog.  She posted this pattern to use several years ago, and I made it in a smaller version as part of a pillow for my sister in law, and now I am making it for a friend as a wall hanging.

 My friend Cheryl gave me a gift of her hands when we visited on Wednesday.  A beautiful homemade table runner for my large table!  It's perfect!  I have been looking for one, but not finding what I wanted, and I was contemplating making one myself.  Now I don't need to and I can be reminded of my friend's thoughtfulness and love whenever I see it.

I know that so many of you are talented, creating beauty for your homes everyday.  

Would you care to share what you're working on?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kindred Spirits

What makes some one a kindred spirit?  Is it being exactly alike?  I don't think so.  Anne and Diana were not alike in many ways but they were kindred spirits.  They understood and 'got' each other.

I have always missed having sisters but it has been fun over the years to see the Lord bring sisters into my life.  You all know who you are - the ones who get me, and love me inspite of myself.

Today I got to spend the day with one of these 'sisters'.  Cheryl and I met online last year and it's like we have known each other forever!

We went to her beautiful home and had lunch - fabulous soup and bread! - and ended up having dinner too!  

It was a delight to sit in her home, that until today I've only seen online, sipping tea, laughing, talking, enjoying our daughters together....

    Her home is lovely and warm - just like she is herself - and her daughters are sweet!  Oh, and they have the most feminine bedrooms!  Sarah is so inspired and so am I!

Beauty abounds in their hearts and in their home!

Thanks Cheryl, Kati and Bekah for sharing yourselves with us.  We were so blessed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40 Years

54 Million 

lives lost 

to abortion

in the United States

since 1973.

I pray we will come to value all life.    

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Dreaming

of a new...

Isn't she a beauty.  Of course this one is very likely just that, a dream, but a new stove is on the list for this year.

We've learned to hold these plans loosely in our hands knowing that the Lord may bring something else as a priority.

We do a lot of cooking and baking our here.  I hear that more and more families hardly use their kitchens, but around here our kitchen, and our stove, are work horses!

We've had it for 18 years now.  The front right burner doesn't always work, but every thing else does.  I am so thankful for this faithful 'servant' to our family.  

Most nights we have 10-12 people eating here.  On Sundays we can have 20+ people eating here - last evening it was 16 people.  

I am wanting to replace the electric with a gas stove as well.  We have propane heat and a gas water heater and a gas clothes dryer, so the next appliance to change over will be the stove.  I grew up in Southern California cooking and heating with natural gas, and I like it better than electric.

So, given the fact that the AGA is a dream, I am looking for recommendations.  

What are you cooking on?  How many times a week do you use it?  How long have you had it?


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let's Chat Some More

Well, I finally did it.

I made my own background for my blog!  I kinda like it too.  Vee shared Auntie's tutorial last week and tonight I did it.  Why did I wait so long?

While I was wallowing in the mess of my 'organizing' this week, our state wide homeschool magazine winter issue arrived.  Inside, is an article that I wrote in the late fall.  The new editor is a gal from our co-op and she contacted me about writing for them.  I was honored and scared!  I thought that I would just rework an old talk I had given a few years ago, but the Lord changed that.  I wrote about fear!  My kids said "I didn't know you were doing that!"  

Tomorrow we are having visits from two special friends of ours.  One is a gal and her daughters, whose family has moved to New York, and the other is a sweet church friend and her kids. It will be so much fun!

This coming week, the kids and I are headed to Cheryl's home for a day of visiting and fellowship!  We are so excited! 

I am grateful for the opportunity to still be involved in encouraging moms, especially those who have chosing the challenging task of home educating.  

Have a wonderful weekend - I know I will! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Quick Change...

...can make a huge difference!

This morning I was looking at a new feature that Melissa has over on her great home decor blog The Inspired Room. I was looking at posts on small spaces, using your everyday things for decor...that kind of thing - when I was struck with inspiration!  

It wasn't anything earth shattering, but I think it will make a huge difference in the functionality of my kitchen.  Are you ready?  

I switched the items on my kitchen counters!  No, really!  I did! 

I moved the coffee maker, electric kettle, and teas and hot cocoa from the side that had the cooking utensils and knives - to the other side of the sink.  Now they are right under the cupboard where we keep the mugs!  

Genius, right?

The jars holding pasta, rice, flour and oats, are now living happily on the other side of the sink as well!

It's a win, win, win for us all!

There is also now more room for the dishes that get washed by hand everyday.

The big difference is the visual peace I have due to this new arrangement and it only took about 5 minutes at the most to accomplish it.

Emily came out to the kitchen and said "I see you don't do much in the morning."

I have done some other things too, moving through my house to better organization.  
It's a lot of work, but it's satisfying.

*deep contented sigh*

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1st Notecard Party

A Haven for Vee 
Every month Vee is our hostess for the Note Card Party.  Please join in the fun!
This month I decided to show my teacups and what sweet notecards they would make.
I drink a lot of tea in the winter and it is a joy to choose between these lovely cups.

  Of course, I do use our favorite pottery mugs as well, but ssshhhhh, don't tell the tea cups!
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's Not My Fault Really...

it's just because I am a Concrete Random, global learner and I have had a hugely busy year in 2012. (Have you ever read Cynthia Tobais' book "The Way They Learn"? You should!  It will help you understand the people in your life.)  I've just been reading it and realized how it has applied to my whole life.

See Concrete Random's are 

For a dominant Global learner "It is easier to get an organizational system than to keep it."

That's me.  I see the need, I desire to change but it's a challenge.

So how does that translate to a person that has 7 family members your caring for, 2 guests living in your basement,  owning and running a store, as well as homeschooling, and having guests for dinner several nights a week?

The fact that my house is relatively clean is amazing.  But the problem is that I tend to pile up the stuff that has no home in my bedroom and closet.  This makes me crazy, so when I went to Target yesterday to get some storage containers, I set to work on my closet.

 I have no before photos  but this is such an improvement...

 Shoes corralled....

It brings me peace. 

But I won't fool you.  My shelf in my closet is higher than my head, and if I don't stand on a chair or stool (which of course I never do) it is impossible for me to reach anything unless it is right at the edge so I tend to toss things up.  Really, I do.  In my defense I have no idea why that lovely baby dress is there...I'll have to check with my girls.  Anyway - I am going to show you a photo and you'll see what I've been living with.

 Embarrassing for sure.  But I am going to organize it.  I need to move the old Victoria Magazines, and the extra Christmas lights (they should be in our Christmas storage area in the basement) corral the beeswax and the craft items.
I hope I haven't chased you away!

My husband and I are different personalities of course but we are also different 'learners.'  He is a Concrete Sequential - Analytical learner.

We are nearly polar opposites and I need him to take over the organization of certain things - I'm just not good at it.  When he asks me where something is I have a pretty good general idea but not specifics.  He loves specifics! 

And he loves me, so he is willing to work with my quirks.  He's a keeper!

I told him last night I really do want to be organized, I just need help getting the right organizational helps to keep me organized.  I have a lot of responisibilities and I tend to start projects before previous ones are finished, which made us all laugh when I was reading the definitions outloud last night.  

Oh yes, I AM who I am!

Poor Tim!   


  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We spent Saturday, doing things around the house, and then we swam. Kyle and Sarah left after that...