- As a transplant from a harsher climate, you have to extend grace to the Seattle weather people who describe our current conditions as “bitter cold”. (32F high; 21F low, for your information).
- Matt made his goal of being a “swing” player on the basketball team (he’s on the JV team, but is also on the varsity team). He had to sit out the first game of the season last night, because he had not practiced the minimum number of practices required (due to missing several during our Thanksgiving trip). Looking forward to actually seeing him play, after a freshman year hiatus.
- It is far, far easier to place eye drops in the dog’s eyes than it ever was for any of my children.
- Decided that since a lot of the lights on our pre-lit tree were out last year, we would forgo the annual Cursing-of-the-Lights Festival (trying to find the ends and where they all connect together, and why don’t these *&%$! things light up?!?), and instead just string new lights over the top of the tree.
- And, in the spirit of the season, I am also forgoing my preference for all white twinkle lights, for my husband’s preference for colored lights. (Still no bubble lights, though.)
- Don’t push down too hard on the staple gun when you are trying to attach lights to your deck railing; you may accidentally staple through and sever one of the cords, and render the entire string unusable. (Don’t worry, I didn’t have them plugged in. No sparks flew.)
- I adhered to my traditional Christmas decor mantra of “less is more”–partly because I can’t stand the thought of it taking more than a day to decorate. I am enjoying this vintage tablecloth that belonged to Marc’s Grandma Kyles.
- I just have finishing touches left on handmade gifts for Addie (pjs) and Townsend (cardigan), and am hopeful of finishing Ambrose’s (Husker onesie) sometime in the next couple days. This in spite of both of my sewing machines giving me attitude. Which is also a reason that you shouldn’t wait until December to make Christmas gifts, if you really want to get them done. Because you never know when your machine will take a notion (pun intended) to chomp up your fine knit fabric, or refuse to do any stitch with the number “1″ in it. (it has digital keys that you select different stitches with. Ah, technology….)
- I also have some handmade gifts that I am hoping to make for some other folks. We will see how the time goes/whether the machines cooperate.
- Taking time to sit in silence and wait; trying to soak in Advent, and push away seasonal anxiety (which may be a post for another time).
I got into sewing a few years ago, when my first grandchild was born. Something about making things for her beckoned me: the thought of her wearing or using something handmade, the sweetness of things that were smaller than adult-sized, the fun fabrics—all of it appealed to me. I still like sewing for babies and children.
Fortunately, I have grandkids to fill that desire. But also–friends and relatives! I wanted to make something special to send to dear friends in Alabama who recently had a sweet baby girl. I found a couple of pieces of flannel to make into a blanket similar to the one I made for Townsend.
I added a custom monogram, and ta-dah! A cozy blankie for miss Lucy Rose.
I finished it off with the blanket stitch around the edge, using dark brown embroidery thread.
Now all I have to do is get it in the mail.
I went with a little more intense shade of pink, just to mix it up a bit.
Plus: puppies! :)
I found out from my sister what they are planning on naming her, but then I got nervous. Because I know that I have changed my mind a time or two about what I was going to name some of my babies.
So I went with an “r” for their last name. Should work, no matter what.
And, because that blanket stitch is a massive time-suck, I opted for a simple, yet effective zig zag stitch around the edge.
I decided I should probably try to get at least a couple of things sewn for Christmas, too. Because you know how the time goes once December is here.
I got out the pattern for juggling balls in Oliver+s’ Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson. The cool thing about these is that they are perfect for using up extra random scraps that you have lying around. Say, for example, from some flannel pajama pants you made for someone a couple of years ago.
I added the option of a small fabric bag with dry beans, inside the ball along with the stuffing, to give it a bit of weight for when you are throwing them around.
Four out of six: done.
And although I doubt that Ambrose and Townsend will be juggling them any time soon, they will probably enjoy gnawing on them until they develop a bit more eye-hand coordination.
This book review is much like my library books often end up: way overdue.
The result is that I have a lot of books (or it seems like it to me, anyway) to review. I will attempt to not let it overwhelm me, and press on.
(Yes, July. Shut up.)
Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers. In this book, Powers discusses how our digital devices are both extremely useful tools, as well as mighty distractions and avenues that lead us to disengagement with people and life in general, if we let them. He argues, however, that this isn’t a new problem, but an old one, that comes about with new inventions that change the way we live. For example, before the invention of writing, many were opposed to the written word; it would cause people to be lazy, since they didn’t have to pay as close attention to an orator, if they could just read what he said later. Powers goes through history and comes up with seven “philosophers of screens”, giving us insight from Plato, Seneca, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, and Marshall McLuhan—and a way to put these ideas into practice for our current day. I found many of the observations to be dead-on (finding oneself automatically reaching for my phone when I have any spare time, for example; feeling blah after having had too much screen time), and yet was glad to see that he didn’t take a Luddite, “we need to get rid of all the technology!” approach. Our phones, laptops, the internet, etc., are tools; we need to see them in that light, and use them properly and wisely.
Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World by Rebecca Manley Pippert. This is an older book–from the 1970s–that I have seen Tim Keller refer to from time to time; so when I saw it at the used book store, I grabbed it. The subtitle is “Evangelism as a way of life”, and really that is it in a nutshell. Pippert shares how evangelism isn’t a scary, hand-a-person-a-tract kind of thing, but is something that you can live out in a normal way, that shows Jesus to those around you. A little dated at times, but overall still a very good message that we need to hear, and to live out.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This book took me for-ev-er to finish. It is a long book, plus I had it on my e-reader, and for some reason, that always tends to make it take longer, for me, in general. AK is a good book, but I personally think that Tolstoy could have benefitted from a more ruthless editor; the parts that delved more into the political ongoings/system at the time were not interesting to me, and could have been cut out completely, in my opinion. However, perhaps if I knew more about Russian history at that time, it would have been more of interest. (I kind of doubt it, though.) I am planning on watching the BBC miniseries version on Amazon Prime sometime, because I hear it is a good movie version. The fairly recent Keira Knightly version is supposed to be cinematographically beautiful, but not a great re-telling of the story itself. (If anyone has seen it and has a different opinion, let me know.)
Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles by Kathy Keller. This is a little e-book that I found through Kate’s blog. It is a good exposition of gender roles in the church, and why those of us who are ‘complementarian’ in our beliefs, are. I agree with Kate in the wish that it was available in a pamphlet or book form instead of just e-book, so that it could be handed out to others easily.
A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni is a well-known writer on the subject of suffering; she has been a quadriplegic for years. However, the new development of ongoing, daily pain has led her to write this book that searches out the questions (as there are no easy answers) of pain, healing, and suffering. Encouragement and insight for fellow sufferers.
Brave Companions: Portraits in History by David McCullough. Another used bookstore find, I couldn’t resist this collection of essays about (mostly) lesser known people in history. I especially found his essay about Miriam Rothschild fascinating: although Rothschild had little academic training of any kind–”her family believed it would stifle the joy of learning”–she became an international expert of fleas, ladybugs (she began breeding them at the age of four), and butterflies, and was awarded an honorary degree from Oxford (1968), as well as being made a Fellow of the Royal Society, the highest honor in British science (1985). McCullough’s writing, as always, draws you in to be as mesmerized as he is about his subject. His biography of Truman is on my list-to-read-next.
Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher. While this book is a bit dated (references to early 2000s politics), it still had a lot of good content–primarily, for me, the mining of what it is to be a conservative in the truest sense of the word, which encompasses much more than just a political leaning, i.e. conserving our resources and natural habitats, living simply, living in a way that benefits the whole community. Good thoughts to consider.
Grant and Twain by Mark Perry. Seriously, I need to stop browsing in the biography/history section of the used bookstore! This explored the (previously unbeknownst to me) friendship between Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain. Twain was a major instigator in getting Grant to write his autobiography late in life. While not a full biography of either, it has enough of each man’s story to give you an idea of his life, and how the two intersected. Fun fact: both men’s nicknames were Sam.
The Question that Never Goes Away by Philip Yancey. The “question” in the title is: why, God? Where are You when we suffer? This is kind of a companion book to Yancey’s Where is God When it Hurts?, which was published 30 years ago. This current book was put out in ebook format shortly after the Boston marathon shootings. In it, Yancey continues to flesh out the answers, and the non-answers, to this eternal question.
Finally Free by Heath Lambert. A book aimed at helping those who grapple with–or have lapsed into despairing or resignation over– the sin of pornography; yet one that is thoroughly grounded and doused in grace and forgiveness. Although Lambert does eventually get to some practical steps to help, he rightly begins with the heart–where all sin issues from. Gracious, loving, healing. If you or someone you know struggles with pornography, read this book. (And if you don’t think that you know anyone that struggles with pornography, then you are naïve.)
For those of you keeping track, that is 10-1 in favor of nonfiction books. Oh, wait–I did re-read the first two Chronicles of Narnia books: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis. So that helps boost the fiction ranks a bit. I blame Anna Karenina for being so looooong.
Big news first–the grandson has arrived!!
If you want to read his birth story, you can head over to my daughter’s blog.
I will give you the short version: he is here and he is beautiful.
See for yourself.
Townsend Marc, 7 lb. 15 oz., 20 1/2 in. long.
Not long after I (finally!) decided what direction/what type of blanket I wanted to make for this little guy, he arrived. I’m sure it was his sensing that the blanket decision was made, and would be ready soon, that motivated him to make his entrance. ;)
But even before that, I have been preparing things for him.
The book “Growing Up Sew Liberated” by Meg McElwee has so many great projects in it, and as I was browsing through it, I saw the Envelope Tee, a soft tee shirt made from jersey material. So soft, and perfect for baby.
Make that “babies”. I have two new grandchildren, remember?
I decided to make a short sleeved version for the Texas granddaughter, and a long sleeved version for the Minnesota grandson.
And, because all babies could use a pair—matching leggings for both!
The set for Ambrose was made from some leftover knit that I had from a previous baby gift, trimmed with a bit of green polka dot stretchy knit (you may remember it from Adeline’s Easter dress collar). The trim is more of a spandex, which wasn’t my ideal, but it matched and was on hand. So I didn’t have to go purchase any trim–which IS my ideal. :)
(Sorry–I took these pictures out in the shade, thinking they would be better that way. Rather blue-ish, even with trying to edit.)
I got measurements from Sarah for the legging size. I wanted to make sure it would fit the thunder thighed wonder.
(I say that with the utmost love and respect.)
And it did! With a little growing room. Because we know that these babies grow so fast.
Here she is giving three cheers for grammie! Or possibly just wiggling around.
I used the same measurements for Townsend’s leggings. However, I didn’t have quite as much fabric for his, and had to make them a little skinnier.
It all worked out, because he was over 2 lb. less than she was, at birth. So they should fit him fine. :) Plus, the stretch, you know. I am hoping they won’t be outgrown too soon.
Speaking of the fabric for T’s: I found an XL men’s tee shirt on the clearance rack at Old Navy, and really liked the color combo of the stripes. I knew that I could make something out of it that would fit a baby, and the cost was about $4 total, which is far less than one usually has to pay for knits. Score.
His trim was a turquoise (also spandex-y) knit that I had on hand. (If you’re wondering why I have so much random spandex knit on hand, the answer is that my sister found me a huge stash of fabric at a garage sale once, for a measly 10 bucks, and it was along with the batch. So now I’m also set if I decide to whip up a Speedo swimsuit for Marc. ;))
Although I messed up and sewed the front part on inside out (oops!), I left it as is, because a) ripping seams out of jersey knit is hard to do without totally shredding the side of the fabric, and b) I showed it to Marc, and he couldn’t tell that it wasn’t the correct side. Granted, he isn’t a sewer, but he is a perfectionist. If he couldn’t really tell, then probably not many people would be able to tell.
The folded over part is the back, which is the way it was meant to look.
We will just pretend the front is supposed to be that way, to be edgy and cool. If any of the other infants ask.)
On the positive side, I was successful in matching up the stripes on the side seams. Yay!
I don’t have pictures of T in his outfit yet, because we haven’t been to visit him–but we will be next week! So I will try to get a picture of him doing a “hurrah for grammie” pose as well.
All in all, I was happy with how these little outfits turned out for the babies.
Some of you have totally forgotten how this post started with me talking about the blanket, but perhaps one of you hasn’t. “What about the awesome blanket??!”
All right, all right.
I decided, after doing Ambrose’s quilt, that I wasn’t really up for doing a quilt-type blanket again, so soon. (Sorry, Townsend. Maybe later.) I was thumbing through my book “1-2-3 Sew” by Ellen Luckett Baker, and saw this sweet little flannel blanket pattern.
Hey–my material is flannel! I could do this!
So I did.
Here are the two flannel pieces:
I modified the pattern slightly: instead of an embroidered initial (because I am not very expert on embroidering), I used this technique and appliquéd a “t” to the corner. I am pretty happy with how it turned out, although it would have been better if I had had Wonder Under instead of just regular iron-on interfacing, as it would have kept it from slipping around as much while I was satin-stitching around the edge. But I didn’t have it on hand, and Joann’s Fabric is 30 minutes away. So. Make do!
My printer only went up to a font size of 72, and an enlargement size of 500%. Which wasn’t big enough. :( So I had to free-hand it, to make my monogram, out of cardboard.
Then I traced it onto the interfacing(wonder under), then ironed it on (backwards, so that it is facing the right direction to apply) to the fabric. The fabric for the monogram was a scrap of an old dress shirt of Marc’s that got some ink on the pocket area, and has subsequently found its way into various sewing projects. I liked that it a) coordinated color-wise, and b) was a nice menswear-type look, and c) belonged to Grandpa Marc!
Like I said, a little wonky because of the slipping around, but still turned out okay.
I satin-stitched with my machine around the “t” on one side of the blanket, and then stitched together the two pieces, right sides together, leaving an opening for turning it right side out.
I found a taupe-y gray thin yarn, and used it for the blanket stitch around the edge, instead of embroidery thread. I like the weight of it against the blanket, and again–it was on hand. The colors of embroidery threads I had were not going to work. :)
And here is the end result.
I really enjoyed the hand-work that this blanket needed, and I think I am going to use this pattern for more easy baby blankets.
In fact, I know of a little girl that was just born to a dear friend in Alabama….
I really ought to write a reading list update, since it has been 3 months since my last one. But I don’t feel motivated to tell what I thought of the books I read. Too much like a school assignment? Perhaps soon.
Instead, you get “random thoughts with Kerri.”
- It has been rainy here in Washington (imagine that). But more so than usual, for September–in fact, this is the rainiest September on record. Saturday was a doozy–Olympia got over 2 inches, and if you were watching the Washington-Arizona football game, you may have noticed that it rained the entire game. (Which led to the announcers saying brilliant things like, “These Arizona players aren’t used to this kind of weather!” Gee, you think?!? ) Locals tell us that this weather is more like November weather than September weather. I am hoping for a few more sunny days in October, before we move into the “all-rain-and-clouds-all-the-time” season.
- My neighbor Roseann brought over apples from their apple trees, and I am already looking forward to the apple crisp and chunky applesauce I am planning on making. The other night, I made a meal that had stuffing topping on it, and Marc thought it was apple crisp from its appearance at first. He was disappointed (although he did like the meal). :) Hoping to make up for that initial disappointment.
- I am kind of an “out of sight, out of mind” person, and so am not always the best at doing those things that a mom who lives far away from most of her kids probably should do (call often, for example :-/ ). But I managed to make some cookies and gather a few other bits and pieces, and sent off a care package to the college kids today. Full disclosure: I made snickerdoodles first; we ate all of those before I could send any; I had to make chocolate chip oatmeal instead, because I had run out of one of the ingredients for snickerdoodles. How insensitive is that, to eat all of the goodies you were intending to send?!? Mother of the year, folks. Oh, well. (If they don’t read my blog, they may never find out. Keep it on the down-low.)
- I am re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. It has been awhile–probably since the last time I read it aloud to my boys, around 10 years ago? I am enjoying reading it–trying to go slowly enough to savor the familiar phrases, while also noticing details or sentences that maybe didn’t catch my attention the first (several) times. There is something about reading an old favorite. I’m almost done with Prince Caspian, which was always one of my favorites of the bunch.
- We are home for a few weeks, before we go to visit the new grandson (who has not made his appearance yet, as of this writing). I finished a shirt and leggings for him (blog post soon), but have yet to get going on the blanket. I keep changing my mind on how I want to do it. And then I lose momentum. Maybe once he’s born it will get me going. Come on, baby boy!
- I purchased an old Bernina sewing machine off of ebay. I was motivated by the fact that my current machine, Miss Fancy Pants Baby Lock, was acting finicky, and although it’s still working, I am tired of not knowing when it’s going to throw a hissy fit and be unusable. The Bernina is one that was made in the 1960s and is heavy-duty metal, through and through. They were built to last, and I am looking forward to it being my workhorse—nothing terribly fancy, but gets the job done. Unfortunately, the seller neglected to put in the manual and the walking foot. They are being sent out separately. I will have to wait until they arrive to do much noodling about with it.
- I want to make some clothing for myself, but I’m thinking that since it’s October, I had better get started on Christmas gift-making first. After the baby blanket, of course. But that would require deciding what to make…..
- Matt is in driver’s ed, and is doing well, in spite of his mother being unwilling to be his primary teacher, and his dad not having much time to drive about with him. Washington law requires 50 (!) hours of driving with your parent, outside of driver’s ed, before you can be issued a license. And 10 of those 50 have to be nighttime driving. I’m guessing I will need to get over myself once the formal instruction is done.
- I am considering naming my Bernina. Bessie? Bertha? Bertram? :) Send me your suggestions. Alliteration not required.
- Filed a load of paperwork that had been building up to a stack as high as an elephant’s eye. Or close to it. Filing works best when you do it often. When you don’t–crank up the classic rock and let John Fogerty/CCR ease your pain.
- It’s kind of weird to watch a Nebraska football game at 9 am on a Saturday morning.
The gospel of Mark is a fast-paced story. Mark dives directly into the life of Jesus, with nary a genealogy or birth story in sight.
That doesn’t mean that we should fly through it, though. Sometimes, those of us who have been reading the Bible for quite awhile, can forget that. And you can miss some important stuff, if you don’t slow down enough to look.
I was reading in Mark, and something I read struck me for the first time. It’s in the very first chapter, verses 9-13:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Jesus is baptized, and God shows his pleasure with him (actually tore open the sky to do so, he was so anxious to show his pleasure!), and how he loves him, and the Spirit is resting on him and descends on him “like a dove”–gently, softly. God pronounces that this is his Son–Jesus, whom he loves completely, and with whom he is utterly delighted.
Then–do you notice?–immediately the Spirit drives him out into the wilderness. Drives him out. Immediately. To a time of deprivation, of temptation, of struggle with the enemy.
And not just for a little while, but for forty straight days of extreme difficulty: physically (hunger), emotionally (all alone out there), and spiritually (tempted by the devil himself).
Now, if it were me this was happening to, I would be tempted to say, “What’s going on? I thought you loved me, God! I thought you were pleased with me! And this is what I get?!”
Because, to tell the truth, isn’t that what I sometimes think?
When struggles and difficulty comes my way, I may say, “I don’t get it. Why is God doing this to me? Why are these things all going the wrong way (not the way I want them to)? Does he even care? Does he love me?”
(If I am trying to be slightly more mature, I may just think these in my head and not say them out loud.
Maybe I’m not more mature, but am just more worried about what other people would think of me if I did say it out loud.)
It’s all happening to Jesus. Here he is, Son of God, upon whom God just pronounced his love and favor, who has enjoyed intimate fellowship with the Father throughout all eternity—experiencing extreme hardship.
Not only that, but the Spirit drove him out there to the wilderness.
It wasn’t a mistake, wasn’t the wrong address.
God drove him there himself.
He was supposed to be there. He was supposed to go through those days of fasting, that time of temptation, that hardship and trial.
It was meant to be. It was a part of the Story.
It was for God’s glory.
And for our benefit.
One Bible translation puts it, “At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild.” This same Spirit who descended upon Jesus to show visibly to all who were there the full and lavish extent of God’s pleasure with him, this same Spirit led him, no, pushed him, into affliction and discomfort and loneliness and pain.
What can I learn from this?
Times of hardship and affliction are not indicative of God not caring or loving me. They weren’t indicative of that with Jesus, and they aren’t with me, either. Instead, they are a part of his plan, to make me more like him. To show me my need to repent. To strengthen my faith. To depend on him and his Word. To cling to him and his strength.
To build my faith.
To bring me through. To bring me to fall into his arms, and be ministered to.
To bring glory to the one who made me, and loves me, and delights in me.
This is what I can expect. (1 Peter 1: 6-9)
This is what I can hope for–
from this same Spirit.
I have one more project that I finished that I want to share with you. This one falls into the category of “half done for no good reason, because it took so little time to finish up”.
I wanted some more modern looking (less traditional-looking) pillows to go in our living room. I had some fabric that I had purchased waaaay back a long time ago, when I was going to re-cover my dining room chairs.
Then we downsized (not this last move, but the move before) and sold that dining set.
But I still really liked this fabric.
And I decided that it would be lovely on a couple of pillows.
So I made one. It looked great.
I think it has been about six months since I made that first pillow. Perhaps longer.
Was I waiting to purchase some needed trim? Perhaps I didn’t have a pillow form to use? Maybe I ran out of thread?
No. Nope. Hardly.
I really have no good reason as to why I did half of this project, and then let it sit.
But no more. I got motivated and whipped out that pillow in practically no time flat.
Want to see it? (Of course you do.)
But first…..I am going to take you through the evolution of the space.
First, we had this area, with two chairs, and a whole lot of boxes of books.
(And two sad little brownish pillows, which were nice in their time, but needed some revamping.)
The first step was getting appropriate shelving for the books.
We found some that fit perfectly in the space, and were just the style we were hoping for.
(“Wow. That’s a lot of shelf space. How in the world will you ever fill it?”
Oh, dear friend. Do you even know me?)
Wait— first let me show you the pillow. Pillow #2, that is.
Aww. So cute–little orange lumbar pillow with tan piping!
And here’s the whole scene, complete with books, a sweet floor lamp, and yes, not just one modern orange pillow, but two.
Isn’t this a sweet little place to read?
(And did you notice–no empty shelves. :))
Future changes include a more modern patterned rug, and possibly slipcovering the current sofa.
All in good time.
I just hope it doesn’t take as long as that little pillow did. :)