It Didn’t Go At All As Planned

Today didn’t go at all as planned! Good thing I hold my plans loosely!

 

It Didn't Go As Planned Title

 

As I’m sure you know, California is in the midst of a very severe drought. It started raining a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve had a lot of rain. The drought is ongoing, but boy, this rain is helping.

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As I was driving in the rain the other day, I hit some standing water and hydroplaned a bit. Not fun. I drive a pretty heavy vehicle, so hydroplaning isn’t a good sign. I realized, then, that I was due for a tire rotation, so I made the appointment for today. I checked in and they told me that my free rotation would take about thirty minutes. The fella went out to get my mileage and to measure the tread on my tires. When he came back in, he told me that he could not rotate my tires.

The inside tread on the two front tires was very thin, and, on one tire, there was NO tread remaining on the inside. They were not allowed to put tires with that sort of wear back onto a vehicle. He had my tires in stock, and I bought two. Big car. Big wheels. Expensive tires.

After putting on the tires, the tire guy told me that the way my tires were worn indicated that my vehicle was out of alignment. We live where the roads are filled with pot holes, so keeping a car in alignment is not easy. He gave me the card for a place they recommend and sent me on my way. I called the alignment place from the parking lot and asked if there was any way he could squeeze me in today. He had an opening if I could come right away. I could. Because the tire store had recommended me, he discounted his service. He also checked my brakes, which was a nice extra, and said they looked fine. Yay for good brakes!

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I’m not being a pollyanna and I’m far t0o cynical seasoned to look at life through rose colored glasses. But here’s the deal. We’re leaving soon on a fairly long road trip. Had I not made the appointment for the tire rotation…..Gosh, had I not hydroplaned!…..we might have hit the road with two tires that were in very bad shape.

I ended the day by swinging by Kaiser to have my glasses and sunglasses adjusted (losing weight means your glasses don’t fit!) and got my free flu shot on the way out the door.  I pulled into the Starbuck’s drive thru for a skinny latte, and realized that I had free one already credited on my card!

And THAT is how my free, thirty minute tire rotation that turned into a long, expensive day was really a blessing!

 

Our Menu – Week of December 8, 2014

It’s December. In California. We have, thankfully, had some really good rainfall. Our drought stricken state desperately needs more. It’s really warm, though. On Saturday, when I put together this menu plan, I had a few windows and a couple of doors open until after dark. When I went outside, there were so many frogs singing, it sounded like a summer night.

Despite the warm weather, I’m ready for warm, nourishing, cold weather comfort foods, and this week’s menu is filled with just that sort of goodness.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

MONDAY – Baked Chicken Breasts (These are quick and easy, cooked in a  bit of olive oil and butter, seasoned with garlic salt, basil and fresh, cracked black pepper. Baste a couple of times while they cook.), My Chicken Rice, Green Beans with Bacon.

TUESDAY – Mexican Pumpkin Soup, Corn Muffins (I’m still working on the soup recipe. Once I get it just right, I’ll share it!)

WEDNESDAY – I’m off to Dani’s postponed baby shower! The baby arrived the day before the original baby shower date. Copper and Will will grab a bite to eat in town after Will’s piano lesson. I think they’ll be joined by a good friend whose wife will be driving to the shower with Corin and I.

THURSDAY – Chicken Curry over Brown Rice, Green Salad

FRIDAY – Porcupine Meatballs (everyone has a recipe for these, but this is an especially tasty version), Steamed Veggies, Garlic Toast

SATURDAY – Beef Stew Pie, Almond Poppy Seed Bread and Butter

SUNDAY – Chicken Pot Pie Soup (When I make this delicious soup, I substitute whole wheat pastry flour, or white whole wheat flour, for the pastry, and then I cut the pieces into cute shapes to place on top of each bowl of soup. This week, I’ll cut the pastry into snowmen and Christmas trees.

HOPING TO BAKE: Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins

I’m also participating in Laura’s Menu Plan Monday this week.

What’s cooking at your house this week?

Need help or inspiration with menu planning. My Menu Planning Series can help!

 

 

 

Hey! Why Do You Do That?

I love getting your questions! I do! They’re inspiring and encouraging and they let me know just what it is that you like to read on Copperswife, and what sorts of new things that I might think about adding. Sometimes, though, the same questions pop up from several of you at once, or the same question might be asked by different people over and over again during the course of a year or two.

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I’m going to take the opportunity to just answer all of those questions here, and then I’ll be able to direct new askers (is that a word?) back to this post in the future. It’ll help keep things neat and clean……kinda like keeping the leaves raked up in the fall.

1. I sent you a friend request on Facebook, but you didn’t respond. How come?

You know, I’d like to just click “accept friend request” from everyone. However, because I have family, and some of them are very private people, I can’t do that. I do, however, have a Copperswife Facebook Page, and I’d love for you to “like” and “follow” me there! I try to post unique content there several times a week, and you can always find links to my new posts on that page. Check it out!

2. Speaking of social media…..

You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I post photos several times a week on Instagram, and I’m enjoying learning the in’s and out’s of Twitter, too. Here’s the info:

Instagram
Twitter @CherCopperswife
Pinterest

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3. Do you read the comments?

Absolutely! I read every single one! Even if you scroll back through the archives and leave a comment on an old, old post! It’s also my practice to respond to most comments. Every now and again life happens and I’m not able to respond to every comment, but it’s my goal. I also try to answer questions asked in the comments, and sometimes those questions result in a post. And, hey! Gals post some good stuff in the comments on the blog and on the Facebook page. Check in and read them from time to time.

4. Why do you post that silly disclosure notice on almost every post?

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, it looks like this:

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Here’s the deal. A few years ago, the FTC realized that the Internet, and blog sites in particular, were wielding a tremendous amount of influence over what people spent their money on, and that online influence was pretty much unregulated. Their job is to protect consumers from fraud; and, whether we agree with their policies 100% or not, we’d all be pretty miserable if some of those regulations weren’t in place.

So, the FTC imposed some regulations on how bloggers, like me, who have affiliate relationships with companies, must disclose those relationships. What it boils down to is that I must let you know that there are affiliate links in a  post before I post any of those links, the disclosure must have the same prominence as any other type of link (size, color, etc.), and it must include a link to my full disclosure policy. It’s kind of a pain, and, quite frequently, there’s really no good place to put the doggone disclosure. It looks awkward wherever I put it. However, I want to keep things on the up and up, so the disclosure will just appear near the top of almost every post !

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5. About that product, author, website that you linked to….

Frequently, when I review a book or product, or link to another website, someone will comment, or send me a private message, with concerns about the author, company or folks behind the website. I really do appreciate hearing your concerns, and I never want to leave you with the impression that your concerns aren’t important to me. They are. However, it’s impossible for me to fully research the background, political views, or ministry connections of every company, author, or website owner that I link to. That would be a full time job, considering the number of products I use (and might link to), the number of books that I read (and might review), and the number of websites I visit (where I might link to a particular post or article).

In every situation, I am reviewing, or linking to, a particular product, book, or article. I am not giving a blanket endorsement to the company, author, or entire website.

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Thanks!

Thanks for letting me tidy up a bit by answering some questions! Keep the questions coming! You can ask in the comments here, of course, ask on the Facebook page, or shoot me an email  at CherylATcopperswifeDOTcom (replace the all caps with the appropriate symbol), or you can click the white envelope button in the sidebar on the website.

When Holding Your Plans Loosely Breaks Your Heart

I say it often, and I believe it. Though we should make plans for our days, we should hold those plans loosely. We need to be willing to let go of our plans, no matter how good they are, when God makes it clear that He has something different in store for us.

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:1, NASB

 

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Holding your plans loosely isn’t that difficult most of the time. We can often see what the better thing is that comes in to change our plans. And even when we can’t, we’re usually quite happy to go along with whatever it is that God sends our way instead. Recently, the very big plans we’d made to take a family trip together, before Aaron leaves for bootcamp, looked like they were going to evaporate when his employer “blacked out” time off during the dates we were going to be gone.

Copper had worked a lot of very long hours to earn the money for the trip. We were all very excited about going. We’d stopped counting down the weeks and had started counting days. It was a bittersweet kind of excitement, too, knowing that this would, in all likelihood, be the last family vacation we would take with Aaron. Reservations had been made. Credit cards had been charged to hold hotel rooms. Canceling our plans was not only going to be expensive, it was going to break my heart.

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God redeemed the situation, but not until he’d taught me to go even deeper into what it means to hold your plans loosely. Here’s what I learned about holding your plans loosely even if it breaks your heart.

God is God, and I’m not. I didn’t really forget that, but it’s good to have that made real in your life once in awhile.

When things look bleak, it might mean that you’re looking inward at your own hurts and disappointments. I sure was! It wasn’t until He nudged me, ever so gently…..okay, maybe it was more of a rough push…..to look for all the good that He was still doing in and around and through and for me. And He was still there doing all of that. I was just too busy whining about things not going the way we’d planned to notice. It was not attractive.

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In that ugly mood, I went out to shoot some photos of dead leaves and gravel paths that needed to be cleared, but when I looked at those photos I saw the beauty that was there in the midst of the mess. What a beautiful reminder that He is still working.

 

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When I open my back door, all of my sheep turn to look toward the house. They know that their master comes out that back door and that it is by his hand that they are watered and fed and given fresh straw for their bedding. They know to keep their focus on the shepherd.

See that shaggy guy there on the far left of the picture. I call him Bob Marley because of his dreadlocks. He’s a pretty good example of me! He doesn’t shed his coat completely every year, like he’s supposed to do. He carries that dead weight around on his shoulders all year long. It’s interesting that he is the only one who didn’t look toward the house when the door opened. Everyone else is at full alert, ears perked, looking for the shepherd. Not him, he just kept right on grazing and doing his own thing.

I was reminded that keeping my eyes firmly fixed on The Shepherd is always my best bet! It’s when I let my focus shift to other things, especially my own things,  that I get into trouble. I’d lost sight of who it was that had provided the job hours to pay for the trip, and who it was that, ultimately, governed Aaron’s ability to have time off from work.

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What if God hadn’t allowed the trip to happen? What if we couldn’t go at all? What if all of that deposit money was lost? What if, what if, what if? God is still in control, no matter what. He uses all things for my ultimate good.

I am so very thankful that God uses great disappointments to teach us great truths about His will for our lives.

 

REBOOT: Moving Forward

You all have been wonderful hanging in there with me as I’ve slowly rebooted the blog. I started with a quick “hello” post, and then we caught up a bit. I wrote about what I read while I was away, and gave you a quick quilting update. Then, you all blessed me tremendously with your encouraging and gracious comments on my explanation post. Thank you so much. You really just are the best!

So, what can you expect from Copperswife moving forward?

I hope to continue to encourage you as you look well to the ways of your household, whether or not you’re home full time. We are truly blessed to be able to create art in our homes, no matter if they are tiny, studio apartments or grand mansions. Understanding that we have the ability to express our God given creativity, through our own individual tastes and skills, should bring us joy! I hope to spend more time focusing on the joy of making our homes and not so much on the lists of what needs to be done and when. How to’s and when to’s will still show up, but they’re not the focus. The focus is joyful homemaking.

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Menu planning is super important. I learn more with each passing year how valuable menu planning can be, and I also find new ways to do it. Because not all methods of menu planning work for everyone, I’ll be sure to pass along good, new ideas and methods as I discover them. I hope to begin posting  some of my own recipes again, and I’ll certainly pass along great recipe links when I stumble across them.  I’ll post my own menu plan most weeks, too.

Long time readers know how important I believe it is that you are reading. My plan is to keep the lists of books that I’m currently reading up to date in the sidebar (you’ll have to click through to my site to see the sidebar), or you can find my Currently Reading list under the Books and Reading tab at the top of the homepage (again, you’ll have to click through to my site to see the tabs).

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Book reviews will continue, and I’ll try to be more consistent in posting them. I’ll warn you, though, I read rather eclectically. I will do my best to add a disclaimer if there is anything in a book that might be offensive, but that is sometimes hard to do. We all have our convictions and personal preferences about what we will or won’t read. Even when it comes to “Christian” books, there is a wide variety of doctrinal differences within the church, and what’s an encouraging read to one might not be for another. Please use discretion before reading any book that I recommend. I’m always happy to answer your specific questions about a book in a private conversation. Just shoot me an email by using the link in the sidebar.

In recent years, I’ve moved away from reviewing homeschool curriculum, and from recommending books, products, and services that might be helpful to those of you who homeschool. I’m happy to say that I hope to begin writing more homeschool articles. I’ve been teaching my own children at home since 1989,  and I’ve learned a thing or two or three in that quarter century, or so! And I’m still learning!

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Learning! We should pledge, for our own good and for the good of our families, to be life-long learners. I’m not talking about going back to school, though that would be great, too! I’m talking about not letting age, the lack of money, or the lack of time, keep us from learning something that we want to learn. Maybe you want to learn a foreign language, to play an instrument, or maybe know just a little bit more about American history. Maybe you want to learn to bake really great, crusty baguettes (that’s on my current list of things to learn). Maybe you want to learn to sew, or knit, or quilt, or embroider. I can’t teach all of that to you, but I can share with you resources that are available for learning most anything you want to learn. I can also tell you the ways that I continue to educate myself, and, hopefully, that will inspire you to look for creative ways to learn what you want to know.

I’m bringing back the library builder posts, too. It’s been a long time since I posted the last of those, but I want to encourage you to build a home library, even if your space is limited. Watch for those occasionally.

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From time to time, I’ll let you in on what my family is up to. However, both of my married daughters are fairly private, and both are zealously concerned for the safety of their children. I love my grandbabies, all eight of them. I love their names, too, but out of respect for my daughters, you will not read those names here or on the Copperswife Facebook page.

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Aaron is a grown man, and Will is a sophomore in high school. When they were younger, I was able to write more freely about their lives. I want to be especially careful, these days, about sharing any struggles Will  might have. I’ll only do so with his permission, and then only if it might helpful to others. Besides, how else will you be able to keep up with what color his hair is? (It’s currently a really nice golden blonde.)

And because it’s such a huge part of what’s going on with me, personally, right now, I’ll be writing occasionally about my weight loss and fitness journey.

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I’m hoping to post three times a week, but it might be less, or not at all, and then I might post more than that on occasion. I’ve not mentioned my priorities for quite some time, but here they are – in order: My relationship with the Lord, my family, my home, my church/my ministry, everything else. We’re all active in service at our church. Will keeps me in the car a lot! He is taking a couple of outside classes for school this year, and he’s busy with youth group at church.  There’s also that matter of a brand new grandbaby. So, if I don’t show up in this space as often as I’d like, you know why!

Looking forward to seeing you right here again soon! Until then, God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household.

 

 

 

REBOOT: Why the Blog Went Cold and Why It’s Warming Up Again

At the beginning of this little REBOOT series, I promised that I’d try to explain why the blog went cold, or dark, for so long. Here’s what I said then.

“I’ll be posting an explanation of why the blog went cold and, frankly, why it’s been so hard to write for the last few years. There’s a lot of raw emotion caught up in that, but it needs to be said. I want you to know….you need to know….. how big grace really is.”

 

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(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I have prayed and pondered and struggled and pondered and prayed some more over writing this post. It would be super easy for me to yield to my flesh and just spew out all of the hurtful things that were said, and done, that caused me to back away from any sort of online presence. But I’m not going to do that. In fact, I’m going to purposely avoid any sort of finger pointing or blame shifting. Instead, I will simply confess that the blog went cold because I bowed to the fear of man, rather than pursuing the will of God in my life. It really is just that simple.

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But you know what? Realizing that, and then understanding that God still opens his arms to this wayward child, is how amazing and big grace really is!

His grace is bigger than my failing.

His grace is bigger than my fears.

His grace is sufficient to heal the hurts caused by others and to truly know in my heart that I love them and forgive them.

His grace means that I can be free from taking offense at the speech or actions of others.

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Though I’ve not finished it yet, John Bevere’s The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offensehas given me a lot to chew on. (I totally dislike the title of this book. The subtitle is a much better fit, though I guess it’s not quite as catchy.) My friend, Sheri, of Meaningful Home Life, recommended this book just as I was starting this REBOOT series, and it’s been very helpful to me.

Here’s a quote that I highlighted early in the book,

“If you stay free from offense you will stay in God’s will. If you become offended you will be taken captive by the enemy to fulfill his own purpose and will. Take your pick. It is much more beneficial to stay free from offense. – John Bevere”

His words are pretty strong, and they may cause you to cringe a bit. I cringed! Though the words are harsh, I think they bear a lot of truth. And if I’m being honest, I have to say that living free from constant offense is a whole lot more fun than allowing every little, or BIG, thing to offend.

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So. This is certainly not the explanation that I intended to write once upon a time, but it’s the explanation that I can write with a clear conscience, knowing that what is past, is past, and that grace……God’s amazing grace…….allows me, and you, to pick right up where we left off, as though we’d never missed a beat. There is freedom and peace and great joy in that!

All photos are from the “lost coast” in Northern California, taken in August, 2014.

 

Menu Planning Happens Differently Now

My household dynamics are much different these days than they were a year ago. My husband is retired, but he’s currently working almost full time as an “on call” deputy sheriff. Aaron works at least forty hours a week, but with his almost hour-long commute, he’s gone from home from 2:00 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning. Will is very busy with youth group, a couple of classes outside our home, and working now and again for neighbors. Though I can eat whatever I’d like, my Weight Watcher’s program sometimes means that I choose to eat something other than what I’m preparing for the rest of  the family. With all of these changes in my home, I’ve had to radically adapt my meal planning to accommodate the needs of my family.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them will be affiliate links that may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I used to plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone. These days, I keep the breakfast planning to a minimum, though I do bake muffins to leave out for the guys to have for breakfast or snacks, and a couple of times a week, I’ll try to make a hot breakfast for whoever is home that day. Lunches tend to be staggered for everyone, so I keep a good supply of good lunch meat, sliced cheese, canned soups, tortillas, and even a few frozen burritos on hand, to keep the selection varied.

Though there may be only two or three of us here, I still cook dinner for all four of us. Aaron’s dinner is put into a Pyrex container and popped into the fridge for him to take to work and reheat for lunch the next day. We will, quite often, also have the last evening’s left overs for lunch the next day.

I still prefer to menu plan and cook using the deep freezer/deep pantry method. It’s a method that has served me well for many years. I’m able to restock my freezer and shelves when prices are good, and I know that I can “shop” my freezer and pantry when I plan the meals for the week.

Here’s our dinner plan for the week, along with a couple of notes about what we’re up to for the week.

MONDAY:  Double Decker Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Fresh Fruit   (Copper will be working, and Will and I will be meeting our extended family at the beautiful Veteran’s Cemetery where my father-in-love is buried. A big bunch of us will be having a big meal together in the afternoon, so a quick-to-fix dinner is just the thing. I’ll probably not be hungry, but Will is always hungry and Copper will be, too. There will probably be leftovers for lunch the next day.)

TUESDAY:  Bubbly & Golden Mexican Beef Cobbler, Southwest Chopped Salad  (I have a meeting at 4:30, Will needs to catch his ride to his German class by 5:15, and I’m not sure what time Copper will be home from work. I’ll pop the Mexican Cobbler into the oven and make the salad early so Will can eat before class, and I’ll reheat some for myself and Copper after my meeting. There will definitely be some left over for lunch the next day.)

WEDNESDAY: Coconut Chicken with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, My Chicken Rice, and a fresh Spinach Salad.  (Copper works, but I’ll be home and no one has to leave for the evening. Yay!)

THURSDAY: Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken over Brown Rice*, Green Salad.  (Thursdays are crazy. I take Will and a friend to Biology Class in a city almost an hour away. We dash back home in time for lunch, and then (hopefully) Corin and her seven beautiful kids come out for the afternoon. My oldest grandson stays here to have dinner with us and then Copper drops both boys off at church for youth group, and then goes to his men’s core group meeting. Putting frozen chicken into the crockpot in the morning, and then being able to pull dinner together in just a few minutes in the evening, makes even our crazy Thursdays doable!)

FRIDAY: Pioneer Woman’s Sunday Night Stew and Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes. (I know that Ree says that her stew must be made on Sunday, but this week, Friday night seemed like the perfect night for stick to your ribs, rich, delicious, spent-some-time-to-make-it food. I’ve not made this before, but I’m guessing there will be leftovers for lunch, or for a second dinner to tuck into the freezer for Aaron.)

SATURDAY: Stroganoff Meatballs, Noodles, Green Beans (I’ve not made these in a  long time! My family loves them. I love them. Not sure why they’ve not been made in awhile. I’m going to make at least a double batch, maybe triple, and package them up for the freezer for another dinner or two down the road.)

SUNDAY: Winter Minestrone & Garlic Bruschetta (As I type this on Sunday afternoon, it’s sunny and 78°. The seven day forecast, however, is calling for a high of 66° by next Sunday. If they’re right, a big pot of hearty Minestrone will be just the thing! I’m hoping for leftovers for lunch on Monday.)

*The brown rice is already cooked and in the freezer, ready to be microwaved and ready in just minutes. Watch for a post soon on how I use a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon to fill my freezer with main dishes, baked goods and other good things.

Check out this week’s Menu Plan Monday for more great menu planning ideas.

What’s on the menu at your house this week?

 

REBOOT: A Quilting Quickie

I finished the quilt for Grandbaby #2 in May. It’s bright and cheerful, just like the boy it was made for.

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I took the quilt to church with me one Sunday morning and gave it to him after service. I think he liked it! We took a few more photos at lunch.

 

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Man! I love this kid!

I machine quilted his quilt by simply stitching in the ditch in and around the nine patch blocks. I used a template to mark the centers of the solid blocks with various sizes and numbers of stars and then I machine quilted those. I pieced together scraps from the solid blocks for the scrappy binding. The solids are all Kona Cottons by Robert Kaufman, and the rest of the fabrics are assorted stripes and polka dots from various, quilt quality fabric makers.

 

fiestaquiltbackWhen I saw this fabric, I knew it was perfect for the back of his Fiesta Quilt.

I have several other quilts or  quilt projects in various stages of completion, and I’ve had no time to sit at my machine for weeks! I’m itching to get in there and sew, but my quilting plans are plans that I’ve always had to hold loosely.

 

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The flimsy for Grandbaby #3’s quilt is done, but it needs to be sandwiched, marked, and quilted. Lots of pink and butterflies for her!

 

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The fabric for Grandbaby #4’s quilt is purchased. That girlie loves purple!

 

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I’ve cut all of the charm squares into tumblers, lined them up into rows, and stitched the first couple of rows, but that’s where it came to a halt weeks ago.  This fabric is Lovely by Debbie Beaves for RJR Fabrics.

 

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I also started a red and aqua table runner for the kitchen table. I love this vintage look fabric. The line is Twice as Nice by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake.

 

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And then there’s the quilt for Grandbaby #8, Dani’s first baby! It’s a boy! I’ve no illusions about having his quilt ready before he’s born in just a few, short weeks, but hopefully I’ll have it for him before spring.  Dani picked this super cool, retro fabric, and I love it! The line is Rocket Age, by October Afternoon for Riley Blake.

I’m hoping to get back to my machine soon. This fabric is calling to me, and I’ve got a bunch of grandkids, and four kids, to make quilts for! Still holding those quilting plans loosely.

 

REBOOT: What I’ve Been Reading

Time for reading slowed considerably for me this last year. It didn’t stop entirely, though, and I’ve read quite a bit since early summer.

You know, of course, how important I believe it is that you, and I, spend some time reading. These wise words echo often in my mind:

“Read, read, read! Use the Bible as your home base, but vary your diet. I usually have several books going at once, tucked around here and there for easy access.” ~Ruth Bell Graham~

Spending time in God’s word is, of course, vital for us; but reading, and reading widely, is also good. When Paul was imprisoned he asked Timothy to bring him not only the Scriptures, but also his beloved books.

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, ALSO THE BOOKS, and above all the parchments.”
(added emphasis mine)
2 Tim. 4:13

(Please remember, if you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I’ve not read nearly as many books these last few years as I would have liked, but the pace has recently picked up. For that I am very grateful! Here’s a quick look at the books I’ve read recently, with just a quick recommendation of each.

 

I was quite a ways behind the crowd in reading Emily Freeman’s wonderful A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. It’s pretty normal for me to arrive late to the party where new books are concerned. Here’s the deal, though. God always, always has perfect timing. I read this book while Copper and I were away for our annual anniversary get away to the coast this summer. I had gobs of quiet time,  with only the sound of the waves crashing over the rocks, to read and ponder before reading and pondering some more. I loved this book! No matter who you are, or what you do, you are an artist! Remember what I said about homemaking as art? Emily’s approach is kind and encouraging, with plenty of gentle reminders to put away the voices of the naysayers and to live out the art form that God has given uniquely to you.

I’ve found Eric Metaxas to be an interesting writer. In the past, I’ve found his writing style difficult to digest, though I’ve enjoyed every book of his that I’ve read. In Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, however, I thought his unique style was perfect for this biography of William Wilberforce and, specifically, his almost life long war against slavery. The book is never graphic, but the subject matter will make it a heavy read for some. Wilberforce was a champion in the fight against slavery, and a dynamic Christian man. This was a great read.

Haywood Smith’s The Twelve Sacred Traditions of Magnificent Mothers-In-Law was a fun, quick little read that lived on my Kindle for quite awhile. It was the perfect book to open while waiting for a short time at the orthodontist’s office or for my son to finish his piano lesson. Each of Haywood’s twelve traditions is given in a short, light-hearted chapter that will make you smile (or even giggle a little), but there is wisdom there, too. Fun reading!

Looking for a good romantic drama set in 1950’s – 1960’s Ireland? Me either, but Maeve Binchy’s Echoes was a wonderful surprise! It’s not all romance. There is intrigue and scandal and a lot of reflection about life in a small, Irish coastal town just a few decades ago. I loved her characters and this story.

I’ve read Creating a SenseSational Home countless times over the years, but every reading inspires me anew to remember to appeal to all five senses as I look well to the ways of my home. Too many times we concentrate only on how our homes look, but we forget to make sure that they smell nice, have pleasing sounds in and around them, and that we fill our homes with things that are pleasing to the touch and to the palette. Though the book is quite old, very little of its content is dated, and you can score a copy, as of this writing, for as little as a penny.

I didn’t see the movie, but I enjoyed the book! The Hundred-Foot Journey is the story of a boy, the son of a restaurant owner in Bombay,  who becomes a famous French chef. The story is filled with colorful characters and lots of culinary details.

I discovered this book when Lori Holt, whose quilting blog I follow, mentioned that she was listening to the audiobook version as she worked. I checked it out on Amazon, thought it looked good, and ordered a print copy late in the summer. Whistling Past the Graveyard is a charming, often intense, and a couple of times downright frightening, story of a young girl who leaves the home of her not-so-loving grandmother in search of the mother who left her years earlier. It’s set in the deep south of the early 1960’s, and reminded me,  just a bit, of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I liked this one a lot.

I gather book recommendations from all sorts of places. Reviews in magazines, fellow bloggers, Amazon recommendations, friends, and, quite often, the notes for the quotations given in a book, are just a few of the ways I find the books I read. When a friend recommends a book, though, I usually make it a priority to read that book as soon as I can. If she mentions a book, or series, repeatedly, then I really pay attention.

Christian fiction has never really been my thing. I usually find it wanting in either substance or writing quality. So, I was surprised when my friend, and fabulous author, Kendra Fletcher, mentioned The Reluctant Prophet series to me on more than one occasion. I bought the first book, The Reluctant Prophet, by Nancy Rue, in mid-July, intending to take it with me to the beach in August. The book never made it to the beach.

Less than two weeks later, I bought Unexpected Dismounts, the second book in the trilogy.

Then, just six days later, I ordered the final book, Too Far to Say Far Enough. I’m not sure what to tell you about this series. It wasn’t so much the story line, but that was really good. It wasn’t just the characters, though they were amazing and I loved all the heroes and heroines, and despised all the villains. It wasn’t even the amazing way that the gospel was unfolded and presented at every turn without coming across as phony or forced into the story.

The thing about this series that is so amazing to me, is what it awakened in me as I read it and the way those ideas and thoughts have continued to spin in my mind ever since. What does it really mean to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, visit those who are in prison, and invite in those who are strangers? (Matthew 25) Those thoughts have haunted me, and inspired me, and given me a lot to ponder since reading the books, in rapid succession, just a couple of months or so ago.

I think that’s it! I’m fairly certain that’s a complete list of the books I’ve read since I last checked in, book-wise. I have book marks moving along in several more books right now, and you can see those here (give them a couple of seconds to load), or in the widget in the right sidebar you can see if you click through to my site.

Until next time, God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!

 

REBOOT: Let’s Catch Up

You know, in many ways, these last couple of years have been a very hard season; but it’s all been wonderful and good and I am blessed by all of it. In the course of about three months time, Dani got married and moved an hour or so away, Aaron graduated from high school and started working a full time job, and Copper retired. Those were three BIG changes and they all happened at once. It was all wonderful and joy filled and good, and God blessed us mightily in all of it. But it was a lot of change in my home, and that change, no matter how good, left some chaos in its wake.

All at once my two biggest helpers, and errand runners, were gone. My husband was home more, but he had his own agenda of long awaited projects to get to. The house was way too quiet, and the lists of chores way too long. My time to spend online was severely limited, so not much was written in this space for the last couple of years. That’s not the whole of the reason why this space has been so quiet, and I’ll share more, by way of explanation soon. In the meantime, here’s what’s happening.

I’ll apologize, right here at the beginning, for all of the photos and the length of this post. I wanted to catch up in one fell swoop – so here goes!

copperresting

Though he’s retired, Copper doesn’t spend a lot of time resting! In fact, he’s working as an “on call” deputy several hours each week. He has several goals for that extra income and we are blessed by his ability to provide for extra stuff this way.

 

grandbabiesonbuggy

Corin, her husband, and their seven kids are all swell. The kids are growing up so fast, and the “baby” is two, which sort of takes away his “baby” status. They are 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, 4, and 2! Between their homeschool schedule and ours, we don’t see them every Thursday like we used to, but I do see them most Sundays.

cutedani

Dani is doing great, and she’s the cutest pregnant person I know! Baby boy, my eighth grandchild, is due toward the end of November, and we’re all super excited to meet him. Eight grandbabies! I have EIGHT grandbabies! I am so so so blessed!

azaleas

After sixteen years on this piece of property, we finally decided to put in a real backyard. We dug out all of our long-unplanted flower  beds, mixed in lots of good compost and rich soil, and then filled them with plants. I love that the back of our schoolroom is now planted with azaleas and hydrangeas. Next spring and summer, this bed should be glorious.

dixiebackyard

Dixie helped, of course. Our sweet, old dog is ten years old now. She may be gray, but there’s still a lot of life left in the old girl. Kinda like me!

sprinkleronbegonias

Copper trenched and laid sprinkler and drip lines for all of the flower beds, and he put them all on timers. It makes me smile to look out early in the morning and see the sprinklers working. After sixteen years of dragging hoses, this is a huge blessing!

 

lightsintree

I have a lot of solar lights around the backyard, but we hung a few strands of electric lights in the big tree. We call it our “hobbit party tree”! It’s been nice swimming, or just sitting out and reading, with the lights on after dark.

willonladder

willsweeps

Will helped a lot with the backyard. It took all six feet and two inches of him, at the top of a ladder, to hang those lights in the tree for me; and he did a fabulous job helping clean up the patio after we filled and planted the flower beds. Gosh, those plants have grown a lot since these pictures were taken!

goodunclewill

He’s such a fun kid! At a recent birthday party, he had three nieces and one nephew all hanging onto him as he made his way through Corin’s living room. They love him, and he loves them right back. And yes, his hair was super bright red earlier this summer, and then it was bright blue.

willatlunch

These days it’s mostly his natural brown, with light blue highlights still hanging on.

aaronisserious

And then there’s Aaron. He’s being goofy here, with Will, as he’s packing his lunchbox/ice chest for work. Aaron works swing shifts, and he has an almost hour long commute to work. He leaves the house in the early afternoon, and doesn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning.

Aaronthinks

 

Aaronlaughs

Aaron’s following his dream, one he’s had since he was about four years old. More details will follow as his plans are confirmed. I’m so proud of him I could burst!

mynikeapp

This is a screen shot of the Nike App on my phone. It lies. I don’t “run” anywhere, but for the last several months, since early summer, I’ve been walking several days each week. I really only have an hour, most days, to walk, but my pace and distance have increased significantly since I first started. That walking, along with joining Weight Watchers, has helped me to lose thirty pounds as of this week. I’ve a lot more to go, but I’m well on my way. I already have less joint pain and a lot more energy.

I’m planning a brief(ish) post on books and quilting and such next, and then we’ll be all caught up and ready to move on.

Thanks so much for your sweet comments on the last post and on the Facebook page. I post on Instagram and Twitter, too, throughout the week, so you can follow along there, too, if you’d like.