Category Archives: Life

Episode 5: Updates All Around

Or, In Which I Blather On and On….

“It is something to know what to do with ourselves when we are beset, and the knowledge of this way of the will is so far the secret of a happy life, that it is well worth imparting to the children.  Are you cross?  Change your thought.  Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts.  Are you craving for things you are not to have? Change your thoughts; there is a power within you, your own Will, which will enable you to turn your attention from thoughts that make you unhappy and wrong, to thoughts that make you happy and right.  And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the Will acts.” -Charlotte Mason

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A Rainy Morning Walk and Talk Through My Kitchen Garden

Or, “Why My Shoes Look Like This”, because apparently I don’t have enough sense to go put on rain boots.

Also known as, “Why I Ended Up Serving My Kids Pickles in the Car for Breakfast on the way to Church”

It’s like Wild Kingdom around here.  I failed to mention that later in the same day of the believed mountain lion sighting, the bear that plagued us all through last summer made an appearance, much larger than before, but just as comfortable as ever in our front yard.

Also, Mairi’s friend is the sister of a band member, not the brother.  It’s just that I hit my head a lot and say silly things sometimes.

Matchy-matchy for Father’s Day dinner.  Hey look, I actually put on rain boots!  I made us these linen dresses sometime back in November.  The discolored dots are raindrops!

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A New Direction

I’m including my first, two part, podcast here today.  As I ease back into this space, I think I’m going to be working with both traditional blogging and, the very new to me, video log.  I explain my reasons for this in the video.  It’s really all just an experiment and I’m not at all sure where it’s going to go!

In the part that was accidentally cut I talked about subjects I’ll be covering in the future…things like knitting, sewing, intentional wardrobe planning, homeschooling, home and garden tours, homemaking, and really anything that strikes my fancy! I hope you will take the time to join me.

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Yarn Along June

I’ve been puttering my way through reading lately.  Picking something up, putting it down.  Just looking at the pictures.  Reading a paragraph or a page or two and then skipping ahead a hundred pages.  Some books lend themselves better to this than others.  Cookbooks for example.  Some knitting and sewing books.  Or this one: Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style.  So many pretty pictures to look at!  And short captions to read to kind of get the gist of it all.  I did read the whole of the chapter devoted exclusively to Karin and found it very interesting.  Also, there is a child’s dress (designed by Karin, of course!) featured in several of Carl’s paintings, that I totally wish to recreate for Seraphina.

I read around two-thirds of Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver before it had to be returned to the library.  I’d like to finish it some day.  This is Home: the Art of Simple Living is my current putter, but I’m not finding it as exciting as I had hoped.  The photo on the cover is probably my favorite.

I’m all sorts of flitty and flighty these days.  There are reasons of course.  Since my concussion, back in March, I’ve struggled with reading leading to headaches.  It’s getting better.  Much better than it was, surely, but I’m not quite back to normal and I haven’t yet found my usual groove.  Also, the book supply has been spotty since Steve has been unemployed.  He used to drive by the library every day on his long ride home from work.  I would order books on-line and they would just magically show up with him when he arrived home.  It was a good system.  Perhaps it was a little too easy, we generally had 30-40 books out at any given time and sometimes upwards of 65!  Now trips to the library are rare.  We have a grand total of three books out at the moment.  Often by the time we finally pick up a book, it’s nearly time for it to be returned.

My knitting has been much the same.  Usually I knit my way through much of the day, during car rides, while talking on the phone, as I teach… but my brain is still struggling to coordinate multiple things at once.  And more often then not I still find myself dropping my knitting back in my lap after only a stitch or two so that I can concentrate on whatever else is going on.  I’ve made some serious strides with this in the last couple of weeks and I’m hoping to find that I’m back to my old self soon.

In the month of May I finally worked in all the ends on the twin sized blanket that I crocheted for Seraphine, I knitted a tie for Iain to wear for his senior photos, I made a bonnet for a friends baby, and I photographed not a one of them.  I discovered that mice had made a stash of quinoa in the scrap blanket that I’ve been knitting on sporadically for the last several years and I decided that it’s time to get it finished up, out of that work basket and in use.  I’ve been putting in some work on that and inviting others to do the same.  It will be a generous full-queen size when all is said and done and I probably have nine or ten inches worth of length to go.  And just two days ago I decided that I would really like the option of wearing the blue sweater that I had been working on, before I started bopping all over the place, to Iain’s graduation next week.  So for the time being I’m concentrating on that and sort of nervously knitting away.

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Christmas 2017

Seraphina’s Christmas Wish List: Eggnog, jelly beans, chocolate cake, candy, bananas, oranges, clementines, grapefruits.  My mother asked, “don’t you want any baby dolls or toys or books?”  Nope. Just sweets.

Elijah watches old episodes of Bob Ross, Galen watches Elijah, I try to figure out which walls can still fit more paintings.  The northern lights one was my Christmas present from Elijah.  Galen is an extremely prolific painter, but I tend to get fewer pictures of his as he tends to paint at night.

Two books that are perfect for around the time of the Winter Solstice:

Little Snow Bear by Hazel Lincoln has been a family favorite for years.  I believe Elijah received it for his 4th Christmas.  The illustrations are divine and I think they were the inspiration for the painting in this post.  It’s a very sweet and gentle story in which little snow bear goes out in search of the missing sun.  Our copy is worn and battered and greatly beloved.

Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root was a happenstance library find and entirely new to us this year.  The story is modeled off of Nordic lore, but more modern in tone and appearance.  It had me from the opening page, “Lucia and her mother and baby brother lived with a velvet brown cow and a milk-white cat in a little house at the foot of a mountain in the Far North.  The cow gave milk, the cat slept by the fire, and the baby cooed and grew fat by the hearth.”  When the sun disappears one day Lucia’s mother tells her that they will, “be each other’s sun until the real sun returns”.  The sweet story turns into an adventure when Lucia sneaks out to find the sun only to discover it’s been stolen by trolls!  The trolls, admittedly, were too much for sensitive, three-year-old Miss Seraphina, but I will keep this one in mind for next year.

Life with teens: I have one who walks about draped in home-made whips and another who randomly wears boxing gloves as some sort of bizarre fashion statement.

The baby doll Juliette has been in a somewhat horrifying state for about a year now.  She never really recovered from that time when Galen decided to give her “troll hair”.  And beyond which was getting rather grubby with two years of loving.  When two days before Christmas my neighbor dropped by with some brown mohair yarn I decided the time was ripe for an impromptu surprise makeover.  I do not adore the highlights.  They are what was salvageable of her original hair, plus the little bit of that yarn that I had leftover.  I was afraid that if I used an entirely new hair color she might be too different, so I tried to blend the two.  It’s ok-ish I guess.  I also cleaned her up, refreshed her rosy cheeks and donned her in her new Christmas nightie (of course) she made her grand reappearance on Christmas Eve.

Elijah helped with the Christmas pajamas again this year.  Thank goodness.  It’s too daunting for me alone.  It took 16 yards of fabric to cover those boys of mine!  Sixteen!  We hated the pattern (Simplicity 2771) so much that by the time we got to Galen’s we decided to switch to another pattern entirely (Kwik Sew K3945).  Elijah made that complete set on his own in probably a quarter of the time it would have taken us with the other pattern.  And probably half the size- the others were HUGE!

For the girls I used old standbys.  My favorite Kwik Sew 3423 and it’s bigger sister Kwik Sew 3105.  I used the latter for Mairi Rose’s first Christmas and have turned to them both regularly ever since.  I made them each a pair of pink organic cotton velour leggins for underneath.  And they are terribly sweet and soft and toasty and cuddly in them.

Oh, I almost forgot!  Seraphina’s romper….I was rushing out the door headed for a long car ride and trying to quickly pull together everything I needed for the day’s knitting.  I had every intention of sizing up the Lady from the North Cabled Romper, but something went amiss with my paypal and it decided to treat my payment as a check requiring three days to clear.  Are you kidding me??  So I grabbed a stitch dictionary instead and designed my own as I went along.  I was already well into it when the pattern arrived several days later.

And the chickadee!  I love him so.  It was a little project just for pleasure, started with some friends, mostly crafted on Christmas day, finished a day or two later.  I think I might have to make a tradition of it and make a new bird each year to add to the tree.

 

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December

And this is as far as I got in what was going to be a very full advent sort of post.  Better some than none?  I don’t know, but here you go anyway.

The garden is covered in ice and snow.  I’ve been scanning/quick reading Christmas chapter books all month to make sure that they are ok for Mairi, who reads at least one a day.  I’ve been making a list so that I don’t have to start all over again with Seraphina.  I should share it here, but who wants a list of Christmas books after Christmas??  I’m absolutely exhausted, but I suppose that can’t be helped.  Christmas pajamas are complete, but for a few snaps still needing to be set.  It took 16 yards of fabric to cover my boys this year, for goodness sake!  The girls’ are of a different fabric and pattern this year- pink and matching, Seraphina is going to be thrilled and hopefully Mairi Rose will be tolerant.  My Grandmother’s shortbread with all sorts of alterations for dietary restrictions turned out only so-so.  Elijah has been covering at least one canvas a week (that is one of the more recent ones above) and Galen has been averaging a painting a day (didn’t get so far as to include those pictures).  We’re supposed to have a snowstorm Christmas morning and I’m pleased about that.  Currently I’m trying to figure out if there is any way to fit in a Christmas Eve nap, but I think I probably ought to go clean up my living room instead.  It’s also my sewing space at the moment.  You might just be able to picture the chaos.  Or maybe not.  I seem to bring with me my own special brand of chaos.  And goodness I need to be on top of it all soon because in 12 days my children have a birthday.  Mairi Rose will be 9 and Iain will be 18 (!!!).  p.s.  Who decided that 18 makes for an adult?  I think I might like to have a word with them…  And there are still gifts and things to be tended to there.  So I think I’ll end here by saying a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season to all of you!!!!

with love, Melody, Steve, Iain, Elijah, Galen, Mairi Rose, Seraphina, and a whole slew of chickens

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: The Etta Dress

Funny story: As alluded to, two or three months ago I tried making a big deal of getting all purdied up for Steve’s birthday.  We were planning to go on a date, just the two of us. I quietly worked on a new dress to wear, in a style he would appreciate, as a surprise. I thought it was a sweet idea, but suspected he might be less thrilled when he found out that Seraphina has been telling everyone we know about daddy having a “secret dress”.

It turns out he just laughed.  Which I knew he would.  But the story is funnier the other way.

So, I do this thing sometimes….just because we are totally weird…where I randomly surprise Steve for special occasions by dressing up in the style of a different era, complete with hair, make-up, etc.  And I direct your attention to our ’50′s Valentine’s day (yikes.  Kind of wishing I hadn’t looked.  4 years and baby #5 had some serious impact!).  No idea where this started or why (actually, after re-reading that post, I think it started then!  The blog is educational!).  Like I said, we’re just kind of weird that way.  In honor of his birthday this year, I went with the decade in which he was born.  I was going for a Joan from Mad Men kind of thing, but Christina Hendricks I ain’t!  What I am is a middle aged mother of five, so you basically get what you get.

Sewing a fitted dress when you are nowhere near an average size and shape??  Holy moly.  I shortened the bodice, the skirt and the sleeves….brought in the waist, let out the high hip, brought in the low hip….did a full bust adjustment…a slight sway back adjustment (should have done more!)…made it narrower through the shoulders…lowered the neckline by two inches when one of my two muslins felt too choke-y* and correspondingly altered the collar.  And probably other things that I can’t think of because I’m blocking out the trauma.

*Just for clarification, I don’t think this is a flaw in the pattern, it’s just that people with a history of breathing problems (me) tend to get freaked out by anything too close to their throat.

My darts are all….I don’t know…awful.  Yup, that’s the word.  Terrible, atrocious and mortifying would all fit as well.  Even though I know how to sew darts properly and I swear I did them the “right” way.  Somehow they are still totally wrong.  I want to blame the fabric, but I’m not sure that’s fair.  And I don’t like where they hit.  I think I should have altered that, but I double checked pictures of the pattern and that is where they are supposed to be.  Side note: I seriously, seriously, seriously need a pressing ham if I’m going to insist on continuing to make women’s dresses.  Seriously.  An invisible zipper foot would be good too.

I felt the fabric would be just perfect.  I was wrong.  It’s a stretch sateen….which quite predictably shows and amplifies every little flaw, both in my figure and sewing ability.   The dress looks ok (and only ok) if I am standing still having just straightened it, but the moment I move at all it shifts and bunches and clumps-clings in funny and awkward ways.  This is probably evident from the photos above.

So much work for something so horribly disappointing!  I think I’ll be sticking with super simple sewing for a while now.

But yes, he liked it.  Though I suspect he wasn’t actually looking at the darts, so I’m not sure how much his opinion should really count for.  Just sayin’.

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a birthday date

Steve’s birthday just past and we made a long weekend of it.  Saturday an outing for just the two of us, Sunday a bit of a family celebration and Monday, by his request- trying and somewhat succeeding to do as near to nothing as possible.

I got entirely dolled up for our brunch outing (possibly more on that later).  It was a gift of sorts.  As we were sitting and eating I caught the eye of a beleaguer looking mother, trying to herd her young ones out the door.  The somewhat desperate look on her face!  It was like I could read her thoughts.  Because they have been my thoughts so many times.  It was a fleeting moment of mixed emotion that basically amounted to, “It must be nice to have the time, space, and energy for appearances.  I’d rather like that sort of luxury myself, but clearly that is not my lot.  I bet you take it for granted.” Just a split second, a glimpse of a thought, before landing squarely back in the world of, “No, no don’t run towards the street!”, “Please get that out of your mouth,”, “People don’t really like it when you bring sticks into a restaurant dear.”  In a way that probably makes me somewhat awful, it was rather flattering to be on the opposite side of this exchange.  Oh, but I empathized with her.  I really and truly did.  In my own jealousy (I guess that’s the best word.  Maybe envy is better?) it’s less about what the other person actually looks like and more about how they obviously took the time to care for themselves.  Which implies that they had the time.  That is what I find desirable and often unobtainable.  And I think I read more into it then I should about priorities and the ease of the other person’s life.  I wanted to go and hug her frazzled self and tell her that she should see me most days, carry a toddler and a bag for her and help with the door.

After brunch we visited a vintage clothing shop.  Which primarily consisted of us identifying articles that easily could have come out of the past wardrobes of our various relatives.  My trying on outrageous glasses and hats to make him laugh.  And my being made fun of for pseudo-secretly harboring an embarrassing desire to wear all of the pink chiffon garments that everyone else finds hilariously hideous.

We walked the sidewalk sale of a funky, artisan town and briefly visited an arboretum…sadly too late to tour the conservatories.  But that was lovely and I wish we had longer there.  Highlights for me included the immense Japanese umbrella pine that Steve is standing under in the picture above.  A big, beautiful 100+ year old ginkgo, and Cinnamon Vine (both pictured above) which I had never heard of before.  I found it by it’s scent which I trailed across the garden.  It’s this sort of intoxicating floral/cinnamon that had me vowing to add it to our own garden.  Then I came home and started to read up on it, learning that it’s considered invasive and you have to plant it every year and do special things to propagate it and so forth, at which point it all started to sound like too much trouble and I figured I’d just be better off occasionally sniffing a spice bottle instead.

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