Monday, October 30, 2006

Pretty Things

I'm always reading blogs wherein people write about and post pictures of objects that they have found at thrift stores or yard sales. I'm not really a big thrift or yard sale shopper - that is, I don't spend every weekend browsing for a good deal - but I did make it to a few yard sales over the summer, and have visited several thrift stores over the last couple of months. I decided to post my own favorite finds. These are all handmade tablecloths. (Not handmade by me. I was just lucky enough to find them.) I told Andy last night that I am on a bit of a textile craze right now, and I might add that the craze revolves around flowers. I'm really liking floral fabrics right now, especially rather delicate looking ones. Anyway, the two tablecloths on the left are about as girly as it gets. They are made from a rather heavy fabric - I'm not sure what it is - and are lined with a nice, soft cotton. They fit my little kitchen table perfectly. The other two are, unfortunately, just a tad too small for my table. That disappointed me, because I think they are so pretty. But that's okay - I'll just turn them into something else. I'm not sure what yet. It will be hard for me to cut them, but I'll manage.
This beautiful set of books was found at a yard sale close to our house. They are wonderful. They're too advanced for our 14-month old, of course, but they are on her shelf, waiting for her little mind to be ready for their seemingly myriad contents. I truly have a weakness for childrens' books. The lustrous art (some of the best art I have seen, in my opinion, has been in childrens' books), the imaginative adventures, the beautiful innocence. I love them.
The joy of buying used things is that they are inexpensive, and that you can find things that are no longer available to buy new. The danger is that it is easy to feel that you are not spending much money, so you keep picking up more items. Even at a dollar or so a piece, items add up quickly. I try to be discriminating in my choices.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Something wonderful happened today. I ran out of thread. I actually used up an entire spool of thread. This has never happened to me before. I have run out of fabric, yarn, and embroidery floss, but never have I used up an entire spool of thread. My sewing projects are small and typically require only simple stitches, and a spool of thread has a lot of thread on it. It was a great moment. It was much like when you write on the last page of a journal. It's very satisfying. Hours and hours, perhaps months or (in the case of a journal, not so much thread) years, of your life are represented in that journal, and you have used it to its fullest potential. I believe that I used my thread well. It was stitched into quilts and curtains and blankets and burp cloths and table linens, and those things are scattered around the homes of people I love, including the people who live in my own house. Thinking about that has made me want to use all of the things God has given me to their fullest potential. Gifts - objects, talents, nature - should be used well.

I'm going to buy a new spool of the thread (as I ran out in the middle of a project). I'm very excited to see what comes of it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Patience is a virtue

My daughter is sick. She has never before been quite as sick as she is now. She's had her share of colds and sniffles and mild stomach problems, but this one takes the cake. It's so sad. She has been sick since Sunday afternoon and really doesn't show much sign of improvement at this point. And she's 14 months old, so I can't exactly reason with her and explain why I can't give her very much food at a time. I do explain why, but I don't think she understands. Every time I give her any food - little strips of toast, chicken soup, crackers - she devours it. I know she is hungry, and that breaks my heart. Large quantities of food - well, really, any amount of food - results in very obvious sickness, so we've got to keep it small at this point. Poor thing. She has watched more television this week than in her entire 14 previous months. We don't let her watch TV except when she is sick. I have refamiliarized myself with the PBS kids' programming and the cast of Veggie Tales. This week has made me very pleased that we haven't relied on TV for Elise's entertainment. It really is passive entertainment (quite appropriate for illness, I think), and it is so annoying. I'm not used to having the television on during the day. I suppose I am used to a pretty quiet house. The constant noise and the catchy theme songs give me a headache.

It is not particularly easy to care for a sick toddler. It is not particularly difficult, either. It just requires patience, something that has always been in short supply for me. There have been a couple of days this week when Elise could only sleep when she was being held. Since rest is important for healing, Elise and I spent those days primarily in the rocking chair. There has been much laundering of blankets and stuffed animals and pajamas, and little laundering of anything else. The highlight of my days has been when my husband gets home in the afternoon. He takes Elise and she usually naps in his arms for a while, and I get to clean! Normally this would not excite me, but I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been this week to clean the kitchen and make the bed. That's pretty much all I've done, aside from the sickness related cleaning, but somehow doing those two things in the afternoon makes me feel productive and normal.

There have been a couple of other wonderful graces this week. My husband has been the primary one. He gets up with Elise in the early morning, allowing me to get a little extra rest. I have two part-time jobs, one at my church and one with a store owned by Chris and Janene. Both jobs can be done mostly from home, but require going to the actual physical locations every now and again. On Wednesday evening, I needed to go to both places. Andy went for me. Isn't he wonderful? The other sanity savers this week have been our friend Denny, who is staying with us until her new apartment is ready for her, my library books, and Elise's early bedtime. Elise loves Denny, and Denny, being the oldest of five, is superb with children. When Denny gets home from work, Elise will curl up in her lap just as readily as she will curl up in mine, a fact which has provided me several moments of respite. On Tuesday, after Elise was in bed, Denny asked if I wanted to go to the library with her. Did I ever! (On the day after Denny arrived in Washington, she did two things: she got a Washington drivers license and a King County library card. The next day, she asked us to show her where the nearest Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores were. That girl has good priorities.) I spent a beautiful hour browsing through the books, and then another 15 minutes browsing through the ice cream at Safeway. I came home with a stack of books that are easy to thumb through while holding a sleeping child, one book that would work wonderfully as a doorstop, and a pint of Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream. And finally, the last thing that has made this week better is Elise's bedtime. Amazingly, she has not awakened during the night while she has been sick. In fact, we had to wake her up once at 2:30 because she had been sick and had gone back to sleep without making a peep. So every night at 6:30, I change her diaper and her clothes, we say goodnight to Daddy and Denny, get a drink of water, pray, I put her to bed, and then I sigh in sweet relief. The next few hours are spent in adult conversation, sewing, cleaning, reading, watching movies...anything but changing diapers, wiping little noses, and documenting Elise's bodily fluid activity.

The doorstop book, in case you are wondering, is Paul Johnson's Art: A New History. Wow. I picked it up at the library because Bob has reviewed and recommended Johnson's books. Bob is a rather prolific reader, and I enjoy reading his book reviews. His comments on Johnson's books have made me want to read them. I was surprised to find 28 matches to my search for this particular Paul Johnson (there are several authors by that name). Apparently this guy has been writing for quite some time. Anyway, the art history book was the only one of the books that Bob has reviewed that my library had available on Tuesday evening, so I got it. Good golly. When I took the book off the shelf, all of the other books fell to the right. It is huge. This will probably end up being one that I check out many times before I finish it.

This post has taken several hours to write, punctuated by changing a diaper, rocking a baby to sleep (twice), and having a phone conversation with my dad. Elise is awake now, so I'd best be finding something for her to eat.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Hurray! At long last, I have finished my first crochet project. I had hoped to complete the entire thing during the month of September, but in actuality it was finished on October 22nd. Ah, well. Three weeks late isn't too bad, I guess. It is very simple, and it was so much fun to do. I like having something to work on in the evenings while I'm talking with my husband or watching TV.

Now it's on to Christmas projects!

Monday, October 16, 2006


Isn't this cool? I found this 1/2 yd. of fabric in one of my fabric boxes this weekend while I was looking for something else. I bought it several years ago and just never did anything with it. It just happened to be the perfect length and width for a tablerunner. All it took was a quick hem, and I had a nice autumn tablerunner. It made me happy. It's the little things.

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life

Yesterday was such a great day. Church in the morning was incredibly uplifting. Now, I don't go to church just because it's "uplifting", and I'm not one to think that every insight I hear is going to change my life forever. But when I do hear a profound truth that I know will impact my life, and when I am uplifted after a church service - well, that just makes for a really good day. I don't mean for that to sound as trivial as it does.

After church we stopped at Country Village for a while, ate some kettle corn (addictive stuff), watched the ducks, and bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Later that evening we went grocery shopping, and Elise was so well-behaved in the grocery store. It made for a most pleasant trip. We took one of those shopping carts with the child's car attached to it, and she got to ride around Safeway in her own little car. The horn, fortunately, was broken, but that didn't stop her from "beeping" it throughout the store. When we got home from the grocery store, we put Elise to bed and sat down to eat our own dinner. It was just potato soup and Italian bread, courtesy of Safeway (it is typical of us to go grocery shopping on Sunday evening before we eat dinner, and to pick up something ready-made or easy to make for dinner that evening), and we had some Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot with it, and it was so good. Ahh. Lovely day.

Recently I have started to feel rather tired of simply maintaining a minimum level of functionality in our home. With a toddler living under our roof, it oftentimes takes nearly all of my time and energy just to keep a basic level of sustenance around here. I keep just enough dishes clean. I keep just enough laundry clean. I keep the house just clean enough to be sanitary. And on most days I feel that that is all I can do. Well, I'm tired of it. I don't think it is impossible to do more. I think it's all about how I choose to spend my time. I think that is true of nearly every endeavor in life. I, along with pretty much everyone else, oftentimes say, "I don't have time for that". And while that is true to an extent, I really believe that we all have been given 24 hours in a day, and we all have been given 7 days in a week, and what we choose to do with that time is more or less up to us. I guess it's a matter of priority. My life is full. So is yours. Everyone's life is full. From daybreak to daybreak, we are busy doing something. Sleeping, eating, working, breathing, resting, playing. We are always doing something. Some priorities are relative, I think. For example, staying in bed for 18 hours a day may be a waste of time for most people, but for a person recovering from surgery, it may be the most important and essential thing they can do with their time. Well, anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. I guess I just mean to say that I am ready to make caring for my home a higher priority than it has been in the recent past. It may not always be of such high priority. There may be times when a member of my family is sick, or when outside commitments require a bit more time and effort than usual, or, frankly, when something more important comes along. One of the joys - and, ironically, struggles - of being a stay-at-home-mom is that I have flexible time. I do not have free time, as so many people insist on believing, but I do have flexible time. This is a joy because it means that I can organize my activities in a way that is best for me and my family. It is a struggle because it means that I have to exercise time management in a way that I did not when I worked under the supervision of someone else. It's something I'm still trying to figure out. But today, right now, I want to pay attention to my home and to make it not just livable, but comfortable, cozy, warm. Why am I bothering to blog about this decision that is important to no one besides myself? I don't know. Maybe I think that the act of writing it down will make it that much more important to me, and it will actually happen. Maybe blogging is my way of putting off actually starting to act on my resolve. Just in case that is true, I will sign on for now. Adieu.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fresh Eyes

Last week I found that I had made a mistake in the blanket that I am crocheting. I knew I had made a mistake because my stitches were not lining up as they should. I looked and looked and looked and could not find the mistake anywhere. Finally I put the project down and did not pick it up again until last night. Within two minutes of picking it up, I had found - and corrected - the mistake. I mentioned this to my husband, telling him how frustrated I had been last week to not be able to continue because of the missing error, and he commented that sometimes it just takes a fresh pair of eyes to see something like that. He is right, of course. That principle is the reason why we have proofreaders and electrical inspectors and doctors who give second opinions. It is why people will say, when presented with an option or a problem, "Let me sleep on it".

Finding and correcting the mistake so quickly last night made me want to go back and try again some projects and tasks that I have counted as failures. Rust stains. Dull books. Growing plants. And those sad, sad blueberry muffins.