Thursday, November 29, 2018

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas - Review

The fascinating stories and origins behind Christmas traditions such as the colors of red and green, the Christmas tree, caroling, nativity scenes, the Yule log, gift-giving, stockings, advent wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas—gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more—infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas reveals the people, places, and events that shaped the best-loved customs of this merriest of holidays. Here are spiritual insights, true-life tales, and captivating legends to intrigue you and your family and bring new luster and depth to your celebration of Jesus’ birth. 
The traditions of Christmas lend beauty, awe, and hope to the holiday, causing people all over the world to anticipate it with joy. The stories in this book will warm your heart as you rediscover the true and eternal significance of Christmas.
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Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas
By Ace Collins


Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas is an engaging look at the most beloved traditions of Christmas. I love history, and what could be more interesting that learning the stories behind our Christmas traditions?

I was very pleased with how Mr. Collins would share the legends and folklore behind each tradition, and then bring it forward into the traditions we recognize today. He is quick to point out that these legends are just that, a legend and not a known fact. In some cases he shared more than one folklore, as each country would have varying legends behind the same tradition.

One fact that I did not know and found to be surprising was that in England and America Christmas was not a time for families and holy reflection until the mid-1800's. While other European countries, such as Germany, celebrated Christmas as a time for families, England and America celebrated quite differently!

A few of my favorite chapters were:

Christmas Cards: The story of a busy English Knight who sent out an artistic Christmas card rather than the usual Christmas letter. His first Christmas cards snowballed into a beloved tradition.

Christmas Seals: This story of generosity and love that began in Denmark, but eventually spread to the US was truly inspirational. I was touched how one man's heart of compassion impacted so many suffering with tuberculosis.

Decorations and Ornaments: I loved learning the stories behind how ornaments were originally made and used. It was interesting to read of the progression from simple handmade ornaments to blown glass ornaments and eventually factory made ornaments. It was also surprising to see how world events played a part in the changes of how ornaments were made.

Lights: I had often heard the story of Martin Luther adding candles to his Christmas tree, but I was equally enthralled by the history of electric  Christmas lights! Edward Johnson, an employee of Thomas Edison, made quite an impression on New York City when he displayed his Christmas tree, decked out in electric lights, for all to see in the front window of his home.

Poinsettias: Poinsettias had an unusual and at times a rather unpleasant history in Mexico for many years. It wasn't until the 1800's that poinsettias were introduced to America. A Mr. Poinsett brought back seeds from the flowers after a political trip to Mexico. The circumstances surrounding his trip and return, as well as Mr. Poinsett's personality were amusing to read about.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: At a time when Catholicism was banned in England the Catholic church wrote this beloved Christmas carol. Each day represents a Biblical principle, for example the Trinity, the fruits of the Spirit, the ten commandments, etc.

There are a total of twenty-six chapter in Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, so there is much to learn and enjoy in this little volume! Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas is hardcover and would make a lovely gift.

My only caveat would be the authors subtle chiding of Christians who do not celebrate the tradition of Santa Claus with his apparent enthusiasm. I was intrigued to read about the real life Saint Nicholas and King Wenceslas. I think their good deeds are worth remembering, however I personally just don't believe they are still alive and traveling the globe once yearly. : )

With all that said I would definitely recommend this book, and it is one that I am sure we will enjoy for many years to come.

*I received a complimentary copy of Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas from Book Look Blogger in exchange for my honest review*

Friday, November 16, 2018

Snow and Home

This morning we awoke to over a foot of snow. Generally we do not have this much snow in November, so it was a bit of a surprise!

With the shorter days and longer nights it helps to keep busy with fun projects. I thought I would share a couple of my recent projects today.
Over the past couple of years I have read several articles about the many health benefits of bone broth. Making bone broth has been on my "to do" list for just as long. Last month I felt like I was coming down with a cold, but after drinking hot bone broth throughout the day all symptoms subsided. At that point I decided I needed to learn how to make bone broth and stock up for the winter ahead!

Making bone broth in a crock pot is very simple. I took the carcass of a chicken that I had roasted for dinner the night before, and placed that in my crock pot with some celery, garlic and onion. I covered the carcass and vegetables with water, then add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I cooked my broth on low for 24 hours. From what I have read you may cook the broth anywhere from 12-36 hours. I really enjoyed this article about making homemade bone broth.
Last month I made my first successful batch of soap! I was thrilled. I first attempted to make soap about eight years ago. Unfortunately each time I tried to make a batch of soap something would go wrong. Each batch was a failure for a different reason, so I would overcome one problem only to create a new problem. In great frustration I gave up. About two years ago while going through some totes in the attic we came across my tote of soap making equipment and supplies. Adam was intrigued and expressed an interest in making some soap. I explained my past experiences, and then told him he could use my supplies at his own risk! : ) He did, and much to my surprise he made a beautiful batch of lavender soap! After that Adam made several batches of lovely soap.

Witnessing Adam's success finally inspired me to give soap making a second try, and I am so glad I did! Adam guided me through how he made soap, and explained how I might have gone wrong in the past. Since then I have made three batches of soap: rose geranium/patchouli, bergamot/Earl Grey and lavender goat's milk (my favorite!). The soap to the left is the bergamot/Earl Grey, the black specks are pieces of Earl Grey tea, it smells so lovely! This is the recipe I used.
When the weather began to grow cooler this fall I began searching for a fall jacket to purchase for Jemimah. Much to my surprise it was difficult to find a simple, cozy jacket. All of the girls' jackets I found were too lightweight or a color I didn't care for. I considered sewing a jacket, but our nearest JoAnn's Fabric store is a bit of a drive and she needed a jacket sooner than later. 

The first cool autumn day that we went shopping I was considering where I might purchase material to sew a jacket, or a jacket, and decided to visit a Mennonite general store not far from where we live. I spotted this simple gray jacket, only to discover that it was a boys' jacket. All of the girls' jackets were very lightweight.
The price was right, and it was very warm. So I decided I could over look the fact that it was a boys' jacket. Jemimah on the other hand could not overlook the fact that it was a boys' jacket and refused to wear it. 

My mom then had the brilliant idea of adding floral ribbon, and I decided to add a little embroidery too. Jemimah now loves her jacket! It was such a quick and easy was to transform a simple "boys'" jacket into a darling little girls' jacket. It ended up costing less too, less even then sewing a jacket myself. It is so neat to see how the Lord provides!
Earlier this month I finally got around to making apple sauce. We had purchased a bushel of apples, and with so many apple on hand we have enjoyed eating a variety of apple dishes. I believe the unanimous favorite has been apple crisp. It is a snap to prepare, but absolutely delicious served warm from the oven with a glass of milk or cup of tea.

Apple Crisp
5 cups apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Spread apples in 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, and rub in the butter with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is browned. Serve with heavy cream.

I hope you are all enjoying the slower days of autumn. What projects are keeping you busy on these snowy days?

"The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad." Psalm 126:3






Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Patchwork Quilt


Last month I completed a pinwheel patchwork quilt that I have been working on for a very long time. I actually began work on this quilt prior to marrying Adam. I planned to make a twin quilt for my bed back home using scrap fabric from my many sewing projects. After becoming engaged I had the ambitious idea of sewing a queen sized quilt. I continued to add blocks to my collection, but never quite enough to complete the quilt.
Unfortunately the pinwheel blocks sat in my work basket untouched for a few years until recently.

 My sister found two vintage wooden twin beds along side the road one day. She refurbished one for her little one and gave me the other. It was then that I knew that my patchwork blocks had finally found their destiny! : ) I had enough blocks to sew a twin sized quilt.
This has been a special project for me. Many of the fabric used are now over 15 years old, while some are more recent. The blue and pink square above was sewn from fabric left over from two dresses I sewed for myself. The pink on white calico was a dress I sewed when I was 17. I wore it often to when we began our sewing business and sold at a local Farmers' market. The blue was left from a dress I sewed when engaged to Adam. I wore the dress while on our honeymoon.
The pretty pink rose fabric in the block above was leftover from my sisters' bridesmaid dresses.
Instead of purchasing extra wide backing fabric I decided to piece together some fabric I had on hand. I found it a little difficult to "sandwich" all three layers together. I ended up watching a video that explained how, that definitely helped! But still it was a little tricky since I didn't have a lot of space to spread out.
 I also found a neat video that explained how to attach binding. If I hadn't been in such a hurry I would have liked to have hand stitched the binding, but decided to machine stitch in order to save time. Jemimah was quite impressed with the quilting pins I purchased. She expressed her disappointment that the pins were not a permanent part of the quilt. : )
Instead of quilting my quilt, I used embroidery thread ties. I spent one weekend working away at stitching in approximately 200 ties! It was fun, and possibly my favorite step in creating this quilt.

This project has certainly been a learning experience! It is far from perfect, but with each mistake I have learned how I will do things differently next time.
 Winston also approves of the new bed and quilt. Whenever he comes into the house, and then disappears, we know that he has gone to Jemimah's room!

Adam is now hoping that I will sew a quilt for our bed. I hope to at some point. I definitely have enough scarp fabric to do so! He is always hinting that my scrap fabric collection is getting a little out of hand. I guess I have my work cut out for me... well not quite.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Grace Livingston Hill Biographies

Over the years Grace Livingston Hill has been one of my favorite authors. I enjoy collecting vintage copies of her books, and have now read over forty. As much as I enjoy her work, up until a couple of months ago I knew very little about this incredible author. Following a suggestion from my mom (a fellow G.L. Hill fan) I sought out a biography of Grace Livingston Hill. After discovering this list of her biographies I purchased Grace Livingston Hill: Her Story and Her Writings by Jean Karr published in 1948, a year after her death, and Grace Livingston Hill: The Life Story of One of America's Best-Loved Writer's, As Told by Her Grandson by Robert Munce published in 1986. Both biographies were informative and enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend both books to any one interested in learning about the life of Grace Livingston Hill.
 I read Grace Livingston Hill: The Life Story of One of America's Best-Loved Writer's, As Told by Her Grandson by Robert Munce first, and I am glad that I did. This biography offers a more personal look at Mrs. Hill's life. The work begins with a humorous poem Mrs. Hill wrote to her son-in-law for his birthday. I was glad to discover that G.L. Hill had a good sense humor! Robert Munce then related the story surrounding Grace's birth: she was born on Easter Sunday just two days after the assassination of President Lincoln. It was a tumultuous time in the history of our country, and for the Livingston family. G.L. Hill was an only child, raised by two wonderful Christian parents. It was a pleasure for me to catch a glimpse of what life was like in the Livingston home. There was a special closeness in the family and extended family, as they were all united in their love for Jesus.

It was fascinating to discover that G.L. Hill's mother was also a published author. I had learned some time before that her aunt Isabella Alden was a popular author, but never knew that her mother wrote as well. Both aunt and mother encouraged Grace to pursue her skills in writing, and proved wonderful, positive critics of her work.

Mr. Munce's biography shares many wonderful anecdotes of their time spent in Florida, G.L. Hill's first marriage proposal, her work at a local Christian college, how she met her husband Frank Hill and her marriage to Frank Hill. Life was often very difficult for G.L. Hill, for instance losing her husband of seven years and her father in short succession.

Munce also describes her unlikely second marriage (which was a bit of a surprise to me!), the building of her beautiful stone house and her mission work with local immigrants. I loved reading the descriptions of her house! The detailed description of the layout and decor were a real treat to the imagination.

After reading Grace Livingston Hill: The Life Story of One of America's Best-Loved Writer's, As Told by Her Grandson I wished that I could have known Grace Livingston Hill personally. She was a caring, hardworking woman with a heart to share the love of Jesus.
 Grace Livingston Hill: Her Story and Her Writings by Jean Karr focused more on Grace Livingston Hill's career and only briefly touched on her personal life. However I enjoyed reading about how some of her books were inspired. Karr's book also included full page pictures, whereas the pictures in Munce's book were smaller and harder to see.

I was interested to learn how Mrs. Hill's publishers requested that she remove religious themes from her stories, and she staunchly refused to comply with their demands. The resulting conflict forced her to switch publishers, and as a single mom I am sure that was a difficult step of faith to take! However it was inspiring to see how the Lord to care of her family and how Grace Livingston Hill put Jesus first in her writing. Later in her career she received countless letters telling her how her books had encouraged and inspired soldiers wearied and heartsick after the wars. Many were even led to salvation through her books. What a reward for her unwavering steadfastness!

Karr noted that Mrs. Hill did not go to the movies, but did enjoy listening to the radio. One of her favorite programs was the Kate Smith show. I was also interested to learn that two of Grace Livingston Hill's favorite authors were Kathleen Norris and Temple Bailey, since they happen to be two authors I also enjoy.

To close I thought I would share a couple paragraphs from Grace Livingston Hill: Her Story and Her Writings by Jean Karr.

"She (Mrs.Hill) was always busy- cooking, cleaning, tending the lawn and working in the garden, and sewing for two little girls who were growing very fast. She made all their clothing for them, and there was always the task of letting out seams and lengthening little dresses to make them last a while longer.

As Margaret and Ruth approached school age, their busy mother determined not to send them to school at once, but gave them lessons at home, in the way her parents had taught her as a child. So in between the routine duties of the household, there were classes in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, geography, history, and arithmetic. Mrs. Hill was evidently as good a teacher as she was a housekeeper. She continued to teach the two girls until Margaret was eleven years old and Ruth was eight, at which time they entered the public school." (Page 63)

"Grace Livingston Hill died at the age of eighty-two, on February 23, 1947. Her life span had begun in the troubled Civil War days immediately following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and ended during the period of international confusion and distrust that came as an aftermath of the second great World War and the discovery of the atomic bomb. It was a long way to come, from the days of the horse-and-buggy trips with her minister father to the days of atomic energy and stratoshere flights. It had been in general, a satisfying life, but the world of the 1940's was one in which she didn't feel at home, one which she willingly departed." (page 113)
I hope you have enjoyed this look at these two biographies. They are a wonderful addition to my Grace Livingston Hill book collection. I was touched and inspired by this incredible lady's talent, imagination, fortitude and love for the Lord!



Thursday, October 11, 2018

September/October

  This fall has been beautiful. The days have been remarkably warm and summer like. We have been enjoying spending as much time outside as we can, hence my absence from my blog. : ) 

The month of September was lovely! We enjoyed the bounty of our garden, which was our best harvest since living here. Adam's berry bushes really took off this year. In the picture above is just some of the elderberries he collected this fall! We have frozen the berries and look forward to making elderberry pies in the near future. Adam's blackberries, red raspberries and red currants did equally well. We have been enjoying delicious pies and jams with even greater pleasure since the fruit came from our own garden.
 This is just one day of my canning efforts. Like previous years I canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, soups, zucchini, pickles and several jams. If interested in any of the recipes I used, I included links in this post. In addition to canning I froze some baked goods this year. We had such an abundance of zucchini I decided to make a variety of zucchini breads and our favorite zucchini cookies to freeze. Already we have enjoyed baking a few cookies or a mini loaf of zucchini bread on a rainy weekend.
 Last month we celebrated Jemimah's fourth birthday! She is such a sweet little girl and a wonderful friend. We officially began homeschooling last month. Last year we did some Pre-K work with work books I picked up at the store. This year we are using a complete Pre-K curriculum. We are enjoying the curriculum and Jemimah looks forward to school time each morning.
 With the return of cooler weather I have resumed my habit of making a weekly batch of soup. Some may remember one of my favorite recipes that I shared quite a while back, stuffed pepper soup. Recently my mom had the brilliant idea of making cabbage roll soup, in much the same way we made our stuffed pepper soup. It is delicious, and I may like it even better than the stuffed pepper soup!
 For those who may like to try to make some themselves, here is the recipe.

Cabbage Roll Soup
  • 1 cup rice (prepare with water amount recommended)* 
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4-5 cups of shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained 
  • 1 can (14 ounces) beef broth
Directions:
Prepare rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the beef and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the shredded cabbage, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and broth. Simmer until cabbage is fully cooked and tender. Add prepared rice; heat through.
*In my last batch I omitted the rice and added extra cabbage, it was still delicious! 
 Throughout the summer months I did very little knitting or crocheting due to the heat, but I did manage to finally complete my socks in time for the cooler weather. : ) I am so pleased with the finished results! I have begun to knit a pair of socks for Jemimah, and I suspect that they will take a lot less time, considering the size difference.
This week I have enjoyed collecting some of my scrap fabric to create a Dresden plate design for a pillow cover. I made a similar pillow cover last year, and I have wanted to make another for the other rocking chair in our living room.
 Here is a picture of the pillow I made last year, to give you an idea of how the pillow will look when finished. The design is fairly simple to sew together and I love to see so many beloved calico scraps being put to a good use.
 Speaking of fabric.... when we were out the other weekend I discovered that one of my favorite fabric shops was having a sale. I couldn't resist purchasing a couple of my favorites with aprons in mind.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/644104799/autumnal-green-hanging-dish-towel-fall?ref=shop_home_active_11
Recently I added a few "autumnal themed" items to my Etsy shop.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/645319165/burgundy-calico-1940s-calico-apron-ready?ref=shop_home_active_5
 And of course a few new aprons!
 And to close this post I'd like to introduce our kitten Miranda. We adopted Miranda back in June and she is truly a joy! Jemimah loves her dearly, as do Adam and I. We named Miranda after one of my favorite Grace Livingston Hill characters, and she certainly is living up to her namesake's reputation for being mischievous but loving!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding; 
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Little Book of Thanks- Review

It happens every autumn. As soon as the leaves begin to turn bright, beautiful colors, the year sprints ahead on fast-forward! Take a few moments out of the hustle and bustle of the season to sink into a cozy chair with your little one and thank God for everything He’s given us with Precious Moments® Little Book of Thanks.
In the sweet, enduring art style of Precious Moments, this timeless book will help your children recognize all the wonderful things God has given them! Read along, and you will remember to enjoy the simple things, like singing silly songs, jumping in a pile of leaves, and watching the seasons change. The short, rhyming verses in this classic Precious Moments book don’t take much time to read at all, and they will create memories that last forever.
Precious Moments Little Book of Thanks offers you the chance to be thankful for all that you have and for the ones with whom you get to share every precious moment.
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Little Book of Thanks
By Jean Fisher

We have a couple of other seasonal Precious Moments books, so when I saw Little Book of Thanks I knew it would be the perfect addition to collection! 

Little Book of Thanks is a sturdy board book filled with charming illustrations of Precious Moments characters celebrating the simple things of life. Each page features a prayer of thanksgiving. The topics vary from family, to God's creativity in creating us, thanksgiving for laughter, healthy food- just to name a few. The prayer is then followed by a poem and Scripture verse. I was pleased to see lines from some classic autumnal poems included too.

It seems that Thanksgiving is often over looked, especially when it comes to children's books. Therefore I am pleased to have Little Book of Thanks to share with my daughter. It is a wonderful reminder to be grateful for all the many blessing God gives us each and every day, including something so simple as laughter!

The combination of the illustrations, prayers, poems and Scripture make it a special treasure that I am sure we will look forward to revisiting every autumn.

*I received a complimentary copy of Little Book of Thanks from Book Look Blogger in exchange for my honest review*

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

God's Blessings Day by Day -Review

God’s Blessing Day by Day is a trustworthy devotional compiled by renowned pastors and church leaders. Edited by Johnny Hunt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, this devotional is the perfect way to introduce your children and grandchildren to a legacy of faith.
One of the greatest gifts - and greatest challenges - of raising children is introducing them to the ways of God. As parents and grandparents, we want to impart our faith to the children we love so dearly, and it can feel more difficult than ever in the fast-moving, instant-access culture in which we find ourselves.
God’s Blessing Day by Day,compiled by Johnny Hunt and more than 50 pastors and church leaders, is the perfect way to build faith through gratitude.
This easy-to-understand, child-friendly devotional is the perfect way to engage your family. Each devotion is written on topics children care about and includes great prayers and takeaways that will spark conversation as the timeless Word of God instructs and inspires your children.
Impart a deeper connection with the Lord in your children, help them establish healthy habits of devotion and prayer, and equip them with the tools they need to grow their faith.
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God's Blessings Day by Day
By Johnny Hunt

Growing up I remember my mom sharing with me the importance of time spent daily in Bible reading and devotions. As a little girl my mom gave me a set of devotionals, one for each month of the year. I read and re-read them throughout my childhood. This helped me begin a life long habit of seeking God at the start of each and every day. I am grateful for this lesson my mom taught me at a young age, and I am hoping to share this lesson with my daughter too!

God's Blessings Day by Day is a wonderful way to introduce the idea of daily devotions to your children. Each devotion includes a verse for the day, an easy to understand illustration of how the verse may apply to the child's life and a short prayer for the day. There are six devotions per week, one per weekday and one per weekend. The weeks are numbered and the book may be started at any time of the year. The book includes a ribbon bookmark, which is very helpful for keeping your place.

One feature of the book my daughter has especially enjoyed are the adorable illustrations of animals throughout the book. They are truly precious. God's Blessings Day by Day is hard cover and of excellent quality. It would make a beautiful gift for children of varying ages. It is easy enough for toddlers to understand, but would be perfect for older children to read to themselves.

I am grateful to have this devotional to share with my daughter. Many times after reading one of the devotions she has asked me a question regarding what we read, which has been a great way to start a conversation about God's truths and how they apply to her life.

*I received a complimentary copy of God's Blessings Day by Day from Book Look Blogger in exchange for my honest review*



Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Zucchuni Cookies

This year we have been blessed with an abundance of zucchini. It has been fun to look through favorite old recipes and create a variety of meals and desserts using this highly nutritious vegetable. In previous years I have shared a couple of family favorites: zucchini pancakes and zucchini tomato casserole.
A long time favorite recipe has been the zucchini cookie recipe from The Beverly Lewis Amish Heritage Cookbook. The flavor of the spices mixed with raisins make for a satisfying and old-fashioned cookie. Also, these cookies are delightfully moist due to the zucchini.
Zucchini Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup raw zucchini, skinned and grated (I never peel my zucchini)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
Nuts or raisins

Cream butter, honey, egg, and vanilla together. Stir in zucchini. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts or raisins. Bake as drop cookies on greased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Some new recipes we have enjoyed this year are: Parmesan Zucchini, Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread and Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread. Last week I made zucchini corn chowder, which was simple and delicious.

Isn't it amazing how many wonderful recipes can be created with zucchini? Do you have any favorite zucchini recipes you make year after year? I would love to know as I still have zucchinis growing in our garden and a basket of them in my kitchen. : )

Saturday, June 30, 2018

God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers -Review

Find peace in your bedtime routine.
Do you long for your children to grow close with God? Join the adorable animal families as they learn to pray about every moment of the day—the fun times, the hard parts, and everything in between.
Whether the animals ask God for help finding a toy or thank Him for the day’s adventures, God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers will create a special, quiet bedtime routine of prayer and will instill God’s Word in your children’s hearts.
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God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers
Written by: Hannah C. Hall
Illustrated by: Steve Whitlow



God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers is truly a beautiful way to end your little one's day. The peaceful rhythm of each prayer is helpful in calming a child and a lovely way to encourage them in their bedtime prayers.

Each page illustrates a different animal family and a special experience from their day. One illustration pictures a bear family enjoying ice cream in the park, the prayer to accompany this page is one of thanksgiving followed by "Always be thankful" Colossians 3:15. Another page shows a little bunny searching for his teddy bear before bed, the prayer is a request of help and is followed by "Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7. What a beautiful reminder that we can take all of our concerns to the Lord, even the smallest one.

Each illustration is precious. The soft coloring and variety of animal families really attracted my daughter's attention. When the book arrived she was very excited to read it with me. I loved how the book presented so many different ideas of prayers to children, and that each prayer was followed by a scripture. There are prayers of thanksgiving, concern for a sibling's health, fear, confession of not sharing with a friend and a desire to help others. All wonderful lessons for children!

My daughter is 3 1/2 and really enjoyed God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers however younger children would find this book enjoyable too since the pages are short. It is a board book which is perfect for little ones who have yet to learn the importance of treating books with special care. : )

I would definitely recommend this book!

*I received a complimentary copy of God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers from Book Look Blogger in exchange for my honest review*

Monday, June 11, 2018

Clothes Pin Bags, Aprons and Laundry Day Inspiration

https://www.etsy.com/shop/lilacsinspring?section_id=11996472
Once spring arrives I am always excited to hang laundry outside to dry on my clothesline again. There is something absolutely wonderful about wearing a garment that smells of fresh air and sunshine!
https://www.etsy.com/listing/606503746/floral-clothes-pin-bag-ready-to-ship?ref=shop_home_active_1
 I have found my clothes pin bag to be a very handy accessory. In the past I would sometimes be guilty of leaving clothes pins on the line. Over time the clothes pins would become discolored and the springs could become rusty. But with a clothes pins bag it is so easy to collect my clothes pins up at the end of the day.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/620338107/turquoise-clothes-pin-bag-ready-to-ship?ref=shop_home_active_4
Over the past two years I have enjoyed making my own homemade laundry detergent. I found this recipe on Pinterest and really like how quickly a batch can be made. I always add lavender essential oil to my detergent.

Homemade Laundry Detergent:
  • An empty  1/2 gallon old detergent jug or 1/2 gallon canning jar
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
Combine ingredients in 1/2 gallon container, fill container with hot water. Shake to combine. Gently shake before each use. Use 1/4- 1/3 cup per load.

Another laundry favorite is this stain remover recipe.

Use 2 parts peroxide and 1 part blue Dawn and baking soda. I usually use 1/2 cup peroxide, 1/4 cup Dawn dish soap and 1/4 cup baking soda. Apply to stain remover prior to washing.
 
I shared this some time ago, but thought it would be a nice addition to this post....

Old Recipe
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Years ago a Kentucky grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe for washing clothes. It appears below just as it was written, and despite the spelling, has a bit of philosophy. This is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrap book (with spelling errors and all).
1.Bilt a fir in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. 2.Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert. 3.Shave one hole cake of lie soap in bilin water. 4.Sort things make 3 piles. 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile work britches and rags. 5.To make startch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water. 6.Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and then bile. Rub colored don’t bile, just rinch and starch. 7. Take things out of kettle with broomstick handle, then rinch, and starch. 8.Hang old rags on fence. 9.Spread tea towels on the grass. 10. pore rinch water in the flower beds. 11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water. 12.Turn tubs upside down. 13.Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.
***Paste this over our washer and dryer and next time when you think things are bleak, read it again and give thanks for your blessings!
 
The clothes pin bags featured in this post are for sale in my Etsy shop. I have also added some pretty new aprons too.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/606501930/navy-calico-1940s-wrap-apron-ready-to?ref=shop_home_active_3

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." Colossians 3:23



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Springtime Dresses

Earlier this spring I sewed some new dresses for my daughter, Jemimah. I love to sew, but sewing something for my little girl brings me the greatest pleasure! In the photo above is a jumper/sundress, which has been Jemimah's favorite new dress this spring. She selected the fabric herself, in spite of my efforts to talk her into a similar fabric in lavender. Pink is her favorite color and she reminds me of this fact often.
I think another reason this jumper is a favorite are the pockets! I had fun designing these pockets. They are simple rounded pocket cut out taller than usual, so that the extra fabric can be folded down to create a casing for elastic. Jemimah loves pockets! She carries her little treasures with her in these pockets; flowers, bows and her little Thomas trains. : )

My mom and I are offering this jumper/sundress on our Etsy page here. It can be custom sewn in a variety of pretty cotton calicos.
 Another favorite has been this sweet little rose print dress, because it is also pink! This is one of my favorite dress styles due to it's simplicity. I sewed this dress style with a collar and long sleeves last fall.
I used Robert Kauffman fabric that I had purchased from fabric.com for this dress, and the dress below. I was very pleased with this line of fabric, it was hard to choose just two from the collection.
I especially enjoyed sewing this dress! It was Jemimah's Easter dress this year. I love the soft lavender floral pattern.
It was fun to select the different trims and ribbon to make this dress special. She looks so sweet and old-fashioned wearing this dress.

Since taking these pictures I have sewn a few other garments for Jemimah's spring/summer wardrobe. I am so grateful and blessed to be able to sew most of my daughter's clothes. It is also a joy to see her pleased with the what I have made. I remember the excitement I felt helping my mom choose fabric for my dresses when I was a girl, and then the feeling of trying on my new dress for the first time! All of the dresses my mom made with such love are special memories to me.

I hope you are enjoying a pleasant start to your week. Do you have any special sewing projects this week?



Friday, May 25, 2018

Spring Flowers and Birds

Spring arrived earlier this month, and it has been one of the loveliest springs I can remember! After a very long, cold winter the sunshine and warmth is truly a blessing. 

With the arrival of May my mom and I always look forward to the arrival of our favorite feathered friends. While we talk on the phone each day we give each other bird reports. : ) I saw my first Rose Breasted Grosbeak of the year at my mom's house. We were impressed to see three males at one time! About a week after seeing the Rose Breasted Grosbeak at my mom's house Jemimah yelled out "Mama, the Rose Breasted Grosbeak is here!". I came out to the kitchen and sure enough outside the kitchen window I saw the Rose Breasted Grosbeak eating from our feeder.
We have been super blessed by the variety of birds that have been visiting us regularly. One of my favorites has been the Baltimore Oriole. I would love to take a picture of the Baltimore Oriole, but he tends to hear me if I try to open the door or window. Usually we may see a Baltimore Oriole once or twice in the month of May, but this year he has visited our suet feeder every day in the morning and evening. 

We also have both of our bird houses inhabited. In the picture above in a tree swallow. Despite Adam's efforts to dump their nests and move them along, they have persevered! The boxes we have purchased are special for bluebirds and we try to keep them available specifically for bluebirds. However we were delighted to discover a sweet little bluebird family nesting in the other box.
The crab apple tree was exceptionally gorgeous this year! I was amazed at the fullness of the blossoms and how they remained on the tree about a week. In past years the wind has blown the blossoms off within a day or two.
 I made a bouquet of crab apple blossoms and lilacs for Mother's Day. I thought it was one the prettiest combinations I had seen.
You may have noticed in the picture of the crab apple tree that there was work being done across the road from our house. Last fall a Mennonite family purchased the land across the road from us and the field next to our property. They have worked hard to remove all of the overgrowth and old buildings that stood deteriorating across the road from us. It has been wonderful to gain more sunlight in the evening due to the removal of all of the trees. Another treat has been the addition of cows! They built a large fence and a couple of weeks ago brought in several Angus cows as well as a few other breeds of beef cows. I love to hear the cows mooing when I wake up in the morning. : )
The lilacs are in full bloom now. They smell so beautiful!
I have added a few new flowers to my garden this year. The Columbine in the picture above was called "songbird bluebird".
My grandma always had a bleeding heart in her garden. Adam bought this plant for me as a Mother's Day gift. It makes me think of my grandma and her love of God's creation.
 I have also been blessed to see so many wild flowers growing in our yard. The little violet in the picture above is one of many I have discovered. Jemimah has such fun looking for flowers. Every morning she comes in from playing outside with a little bouquet of flowers.
The flower above became one of my favorites last year. I discovered it growing along side the road in front of our house. I was puzzled. Growing up in the country I had seen many wild flowers and knew most by name. I had never seen a flower like this before. I went on-line and searched to try and discover the name, but couldn't seem to find the same flower. A day or so later I was reading a blog post about flowers, the post did not include pictures, just names of favorite flowers. When I read the name "Star of Bethlehem", something inside me just knew that was the name of this flower, and it was. This year we have Star of Bethlehem growing all along the edge of our front yard.
 To close this post, a picture of "cat Winston", as Jemimah calls him. Thankfully he has been doing all of his bird watching from inside! I hope we can keep it that way.

I hope you all have a blessed and beautiful weekend!

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:
To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,
 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.
 For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
 O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep." Psalm 92: 1-5