Monday, December 31, 2012

All of my girls. L-R: Laurie, Eva, Bekah, Mel, and Mary

The tortilla assembly line.

Our whole family: Back row L-R: Dan,John,Paul. Front row L-R: Laurie,Eva,Joe,Mary,Jacob,Abe,Nines,Bekah,Will
Nines' Feast...

My feast is the last one of the season.  (Paul has been in Alabama for the past six months, so we might be able to get his feast in before he leaves on his next trip.) I'm 45- thought it only fair since I mentioned everyone elses' age. I'm letting my gray hair grow out, today.  I might change my mind, tomorrow. I'm emotional- I cry when I hear/read a story I like. I especially love to hear about people's stories- I'm never bored.  I don't laugh at jokes, but I do laugh when I find something funny.  I love to do things with my hands- gardening- especially flowers, quilting, crocheting.  I have to set time limits for myself in those areas, because I can do them for hours on end. I can only input information for about two hours, tops. So seminars and lectureships are completely wasted on me. I'm a sponge for minutiae- I am filled with useless bits of information but find it all very fascinating. But, because of the limited attention span, ya better get to the point relatively quickly.  I don't much care for being told how I should do things, but I like being told how things are done.  I love snow.  My husband, Will, is my favorite person.  I am amazed by my children in so many ways. How can eight people be so different when they spent the majority of their lives together?  They fascinate me and I find each of them absolutely delightful. I am so proud of them and the people they are, but when others mention what a good parent I am, I look at them as if they are aliens.  I tried, I did, but it's a very gracious God who smoothed over all of my mistakes.  And I made so very many. Praise be to God for His grace!  I am happiest when in their company.  I'm blessed- my cup overflows.

I never keep my feast a secret because I don't like being sequestered from the family. I invoked the five girls' help with my meal. What a delight to have them all bustling around the kitchen, chopping vegetables, getting things into serving bowls and on the buffet in the dining room. Eva and Bekah decorated the table for me with bright table clothes, oil lamps and crepe paper.  The three oldest girls made tortillas.  I whipped up the dough and they rolled and grilled and pressed and twirled.  Mary showed them how it was done. When Mary dusted the front of her shirt off, saying she got flour on herself, she stopped and said, "Hey!  I've got an apron now!  She went to her little pile of presents and pulled out her apron I made for her with dogs on it- she's an animal lover.  And then all of the girls scattered and came back wearing their aprons. I think I've never seen anything more adorable than all five of them in their aprons, with specially made hand towels hanging from the side loops- embroidered with cupcakes to match. The rest of the prep work we all shared. So we had tortillas, meat, refried beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, salsa(Mary made), sour cream, black olives, jalapenos and I don't remember what else.  And there was ketchup for Will because he eats Gringo tacos. I made hot fudge pudding cake a couple hours later because everyone was too stuffed to eat anymore right after dinner.  All in all, I think it was tasty and it was such a thrill to have them all sitting at the table.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Will officiated at Jacob and Mary's wedding
Sweet William's Feast...

He's the love of my life.  My rock.  We've been married for 25 years and I can't imagine my life without him. He's very affectionate.  I love all of his hugs and kisses.  He gives his all to everything he does. He's thoughtful and even if he doesn't always say anything, you can be sure that if he knows you, you're in his prayers.  My Dad won't often call on Bill to say prayer because my Dad wants to get to bed sometime in the next eight hours!  The food on the dinner table will rarely be piping hot because he always seems to have one more thing to say to the Lord.  And really, what's more important?  Hot food or a heartfelt talk with your Father?  He's wise.  So often, I can't see the problem with certain actions and then he'll elaborate on the consequence of those decisions. Ahhh... now I get it.  He adores his kids and is the strong Dad they need him to be. There's nothing he wouldn't do for them. He's such a good guy.  I wish you could all get to know him. I love him so much it breaks my heart.     

Will always has his feast on our Xmas Eve.  As most of you know, I don't have any attachment, whatsoever, to December 25th. Any time I can get my family under the same roof is cause for celebration.  So, tomorrow will be present opening day. (And wouldn't you know it?  It'll be white.  It's always white on my Xmas.  I think everyone else should wait to celebrate with me!) 

This year, Will insisted he make things as easy as possible for me so that I was rested for our big day.  I think the guy in him sees all of the kids creativity when it comes to feasts and just can't wait to give it a try.  In the theme of keeping it simple, he recycled some of John's idea with boarding the windows up with some loose lumber- John used PVC pipes.  And he used John's gate. He had me cook up a big pot of... gruel.  I guess that's what you'd call it. (I boiled some water and added some oats- didn't have enough- the kids would have been thrilled with oatmeal.  They're weird that way. So I added... all the stale cereal, crackers and chips in the pantry.  Been meaning to clean that out for a while now.  Giggle.  You know, around here, the kids hate to throw food away, but they also hate to be the one to discover that something is stale.  If it's a possibility, they'd rather someone else discover that fact and testify to that effect. By the time the pot was full, it was a thick, gooey, gluey, grey, glumpy... well, it looked very bad, indeed.) He divided the gruel between two pots and set them out on a long table with styrofoam plates and a ladle.  A big, military ladle. 

He went out to invite his "guests" in by carrying a big stick and using a loud bark.  The man has a set of lungs on him.  He transformed himself into the prison warden and got them into single file. If the giggles were anything to judge by, I don't think anyone was too intimidated. "You know the routine.  I hear any complaints, you'll be eating through a straw!"  So when he said, "Next!" the next person in line would file in through the curtain and down to the table.  He asked if they wanted turkey or chicken.  Whatever they asked for, he gave them the opposite- 'cause that's how it works in the pen. And of course, the gruel was the same in both pots so it didn't really matter.  You should have seen the look on their faces when that gelatinous mess would hit their plates.  They would stand there and stare it... and then ask for a spoon!  Will would bark at them and say they'd get a spoon when he decided to give them a spoon- now get in your seat!  Finally, they all sat there at the table looking like a pack of kicked dogs. So sad.  We had the Bible reading, but I'm afraid the kids were too distressed to pay proper attention. 

Will hops up after the prayer and says he'll clean those plates away, now.  The kids were so relieved and when he brought out a stack of eight Little Caesar's pizzas with eight orders of crazy bread, I thought there might be a riot.  You should have heard the whoops of joy!  Pizza!  And he had about eight bottles of different flavored pop- so they could have anything they asked for.  As is his custom, he gave the kids chocolate for his gift. Two big bars, this year. Mine even have almonds in them! I made a pan of Mountain Mama Mudslide for dessert and, aside from the gruel, that was my only contribution to his feast.  That was so sweet and considerate of him to be especially careful to make it a breeze for me. 

Scripture reading: Romans 6:16-18
"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either to sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness.
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."

Well folks, as unsavory as slavery is, that's what we all are- slaves.  The good news- we can choose who our master will be.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Beautiful Eva

Eva's Feast...
Eva(13y) is a dear, dear girl.  She is sweet and loving.  Doesn't know a stranger.  She's very artistic- as all of my children are.  She loves to draw pictures- the more detailed the better.  She will cover the entire page- no white spaces for her. She's a hard worker- she loves to clean her room- no joke.  I rarely have to remind her to do her chores.  She is the fastest dish washer in the house.  She just pops in her ear buds and off she goes. And the sink will absolutely sparkle when she's done.  FlyLady would be proud. She joined me in my Nanowrimo this year. She's even illustrating hers.  She's the goofy one of the two girls and gets downright punchy at times.  Late at night, I'll hear her squealing and laughing while Bekah is saying, "Eva!  Be quiet! I wanna go to sleep!"  She loves being outside and will go out no matter the weather.  She loves to do acts of daring on the tire swing.  Sometimes she can talk Bekah into joining her in her silliness- if the weather is pleasant. She's just an all- around fun girl and we love her bushels and barrels.

pomegranate blood

poor Daniel

He looks upset to be the appetizer

Fingers, toes, and eyeballs in sweet and sour sauce

Her feast... Every year at least one of the kids completely floor me and this year, it was Eva's turn.  This is where you'll see her silly side.  Her theme was the Zombie Apocalypse.  Really.  This was a first.  She completely destroyed the dining room. She tore up pieces of newspaper and scattered them about, along with other debris. The tablecloth was all rumpled. Kerosene scattered around the room- because there will be no electricity during the zombie Apocalypse. Machetes abounded. So... Will, Eva and I put on a audio skit before she invited her guests in.  We pretended that Daniel(who's still in Boston) was being chased by zombies and comes crashing through the door.  We all start screaming for him to get in.  We fire our guns(slamming blocks of wood together.)  NO!!  Daniel was killed.  We cry and sob only to start getting attacked by the zombies, ourselves.  First Eva is killed and then me and Will valiantly tries to hold them at bay, but as he shuffles his pump action shotgun(yes, we believe in the second amendment- you never know when zombies might attack) it is obvious he is out of rounds.  He screams his last breath and collapses to the floor.  The laughter in the next room was proof that they were being highly entertained by our demise- should I be concerned?  Never once was the word "zombie" mentioned, but they clearly understood what was happening! The dining room is silent.  After a minute or so, gurgling and moaning began to fill the air and it was time to invite the guests in.  Eva pretended to bite each of her guests.(For those of you out of the "zombie apocalypse" loop, that's how you become infected.)  So now we're all one big happy family of zombies.  Daniel is spread out on the dining room table(I am so sorry, Daniel.  We were all really sad to be eating you, but we are mindless zombies remember.) Eva had sweet and sour hot dogs and meatballs in a crock as his head and spaghetti in a larger crock as his belly- we all agreed that he was much too fat to be Daniel.  Garlic bread made up his arms and feet.  There were pomegranate seeds scattered around the body giving everything a rather bloody and gruesome appearance.  We were a little dismayed by the requirement that we eat with our hands.  She was considerate enough to provide serving spoons. Most of us were inventive in using our bread as eating utensils.  Her beverage was tropical punch and her dessert was a strawberry jello cake topped with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Her gifts were hair clippies for the girls- to keep their hair out of their food- and the guys got paddle balls. And so I think, "How can we top this one?"  and I know that one of them will.

Will was hesitant to read a scripture before this feast as he was concerned about blasphemy. He asked everyone to try and ignore the body on the table and concentrate on the passage as he read:

 Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

I love how Paul uses the "therefore" card.  He does it so frequently.  There's something relevant to these verses before this passage. Chapter 11 is rich, indeed, in the illustration of the mercy God has extended to us, sinners.  The forgiveness of sin, grafting us onto His root. The depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.  "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

And so offering yourself as a living and set-apart sacrifice is a reasonable and rational thing. Don't be like the world, but completely change yourself by the new understanding you gain of the wisdom and knowledge of God and his mercies. By doing this, you prove what God's good, well-pleasing and perfect will is.        

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bekah's Feast...

This is Bekah and she's 11 years old. It isn't easy to describe her.  It's complicated.  She loves babies and kittens.  And all things sparkly.  We got her a bedazzler for her birthday.  It was a no-brainer.  She likes to read and sew.  And yet...she's a realist.  Very pragmatic.  A few weeks ago, I took the girls to a matinee and I was so floored when one of my favorite characters in the movie was killed. I whispered to Bekah, "I can't believe he died!  I really liked him!" to which she whispers back in her most please-grow-up voice, "Mom, somebody's gotta die."  Who could argue with that?  (Truth be told, I could be just as happy at the end of a movie if all the bad guys die and all the good guys live.  But this isn't about me...)  She's thoughtful and generous.  While shopping for her feast, she says that she wants to get Paul a present.  I can't tell you what she wanted to get him because he might be listening.  Paul is 18 and has been living down south for about 6 months.  Apparently, she misses him because she spent every penny of her birthday money from her grandparents on his gift.  The mommy in me wanted to say, "Whoa there, missy, that's not what they gave you the money for,"  but then I see what joy she had in searching for just the right one, wondering if he would prefer this one or that one, finally picking up the one she thought he'd like the best and placing it in the cart... The biggest grin ever stretched across her face.  What else did they give it to her for but to be blessing to others?  And she is such a blessing to all of us. And we love her so much it hurts!

As you might can tell from the picture, the theme for her feast is, "Welcome to Africa!" She had a West African Feast and it was pretty incredible.  The internet is an invaluable tool, there's no doubt about it. She has been struggling with the 'flu for a week or two and, when I tried to get her to trade her feast day with Eva, she was crushed.  So I agreed to go ahead- under the stipulation we shop early so she could still get some rest in the afternoon.  She slept all the way home, and then curled up on the couch for an extended nap. She got her second wind and then worked very hard to prepare her feast. She greeted her guests wrapped in one of my favorite pieces of kente-cloth inspired fabrics and wearing one of the necklaces Mr. Phil brought back from Sierra Leone.  Doesn't she look like a doll?  Ok, I'll shut up my inner mommy.  She offered a cup of water to each of her guests as she invited them in- as a sign of hospitality and respect.  She decorated the dining room in bright colors- red, purple, yellow, orange and gold.  There were kerosene lamps on the table and a jar she had hot glued glass globs of blue and turquoise onto- with a candle inside. She had the tops of two pineapples and some coconut shells filling things out.  Each plate came with a map of Africa and there were crayons set in the center of the table to color in the different countries.  Her appetizer was a ton of fruit- oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, bananas, kiwi and coconut. And then there was the chin chin.  Chin chin is a West African treat that you have to taste to believe.  Imagine a sugar cookie.  Now deep fry that puppy.  Oh man!  Sooooo good! Her main dish was chicken skewers seasoned with spices.  We made couscous and divided it into four flavors- plain, garlic, parmesan, and mushroom.  Then we had a dish called Jollof Rice. Bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant and rice all cooked together with a lot of spices- ginger, red pepper, thyme, etc. Orange juice was her beverage.  And finally, coconut cream pie for dessert.  I am beyond miserably full. Bekah made little bracelets with wooden beads for her gifts. So sweet.

Will read Acts 3-4:20. The story of the lame beggar being healed at the gate Beautiful.  How he was walking and leaping and praising God. How the people were amazed.  How Peter preached to them about the Jesus they had disowned and murdered.  About how they had done it in ignorance but they could still turn away and return to the presence of the Lord. How Peter and John were imprisoned by men who were hard of heart and refused to accept this One who would bless them.  These leaders, wanting to pretend that a miracle had not happened, even seeing it themselves, ordered Peter and John not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  And how Peter answered and said, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." 

...We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard...

 ...We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard...

 ...We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard...                  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lady Mary and Sir Jacob
Jacob and Mary's Feast...

(Sorry about the blinding yellow.  I took the picture in almost complete darkness- candlelight only.)

Jacob is our third son and Mary is his beautiful wife.  They live 1.2 miles up the road from us. Jacob is a fun-loving guy and Mary is a good sport.  Jacob is artistic and creative.  He likes to forge steel, carve wood, and even cook. His heart goes pitter-pat when he spies a chainsaw. He loves cold weather camping and hiking.  He's an excellent huntsman and has put a good deal of meat in our freezer over the past few years.  He especially likes to bow hunt, but he hasn't had any success with that, yet.  His aim is spot on, so it's only a matter of time. He's a sentimental guy, with a trunk filling with objects from his and Mary's courtship and the beginning of their marriage.  Mary... she's a perfect match for Jacob.  She's a lovely, loving person.  She's delightfully feisty and tries to keep Jacob from being such a guy.  She has a thankful heart. She's easily pleased and dotes on her new little sisters- who adore her.  She does tend to worry and Jacob is a perfect match for her in that he rarely worries. Maybe they'll balance each other out. I'm pretty sure they couldn't make a decision without the other one's input to save their lives.  Not a bad thing, I suppose, for newlyweds.  Definitely keeps the peace.  We just couldn't imagine loving them more. (I can't talk about Jacob and Mary without mentioning their puppy, Brave.  He's a labroshepherd and I must say, he's adorable in the way that only puppies can be.)


Their feast was a medieval extravaganza. We arrived at their house and dinner wasn't quite ready.  Mary was worried that we were waiting.  We assured her that we were enjoying the wait.  How often do we get to wait for a meal- that someone else is cooking- while seated in comfort?  They invited us into their candlelit meal with a ribbon festooned hair piece for the girls and a Nerf-type sword for the guys.  The table was laden with piles of grapes and loaves of homemade bread(lemon raisin- it reminded me of stollen.)  The bread was braided and as tasty as it was pretty.  There were candles and shields everywhere. They had sparkling grape juice to drink. Then, they brought out the food.  Oh my, what a feast!  Jacob had won a turkey at a turkey shoot.(For the non-country folk- or for those of you who have never seen the movie, Private York- a turkey shoot is a type of sharpshooter contest.) So they had a big turkey with stuffing on a platter, two roasted hens, potato pancakes, homemade rye/bacon rolls and English peas.  We were allowed plates, but no serving spoons or silverware.  As you can imagine, the kids jumped right in with both hands!  It was very, very good and so much fun. Mary worried there wouldn't be enough food, but we had plenty.  (John and Tim went over there and wiped out the leftovers for lunch the next day.)  Their dessert was chocolate cake- made from scratch- and filled with bananas and cherries and topped with whipped cream.  And just in case that wasn't enough and because Mary loves her new father-in-law, they also had another chocolate cake with a chocolate glaze on it- again, made from scratch.  Can you imagine making two different kinds of yeast bread and two different cakes from scratch all in the same day- not to mention a turkey?  And then they say that every recipe was from their new German cookbook. My feet hurt just thinking about it.  We were all stuffed when we rolled away from the table.  We ended up hanging around for another couple hours watching a movie (and napping.)  We had a wonderful time and they did a great job of preparing their first feast on their own!

Will read Isaiah 62:5
  "For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry You,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you." 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Timothy's Feast...

Most of you won't recognize this young man- He's my nephew, Timothy(18y.)  He lives in Arizona with my brother and sister-in-law and family.  Like several of my nephews have done in the past, he has come to stay with us for a little while.  I think it helps when my kids move out to have another one move in- however temporary that may be. Kinda eases the whole, "No, this can't be happening!" kinda thing.

Timothy is... well, his family calls him, "That Tim boy."  He's not much of a boy in stature, but he is in spirit.  He's a big guy- over 6 foot and he's strong as an ox.  But he's very gentle.  And, for the most part, quiet.  He will never strike up a conversation with anyone.  It just won't happen.  He'll suddenly contribute to discussions, though.  The whole room becomes still and you can just see everyone start to grin and their eyes sparkle.  Tim just spoke.  He didn't notice, though, 'cause he hardly looked up. He's very intelligent and can tell you all about... well, just about everything.  But if you ask him a personal question- even as simple as, 'How ya doin'?" he will take the longest time to answer- if he answers- and usually it's more of a shrug of the shoulders.  He's much more animated late in the evening and you can hear him all over the house, playing with the little kids and watching funny movies- just yucking it up. He's very hands-on- loves to work on engines, motors and anything mechanical. He has a silly streak that is a pleasure to watch. One of my favorite things to observe about Timothy is his intense concentration.  Even with the most mundane task.  He stands by the kitchen table with his nose about 12 inches from his plate while making a sandwich- that's a long way to bend down.  I asked him if he'd ever had his eyes checked...eventually, he explained that his sight is perfect, he just likes to see things close up- in detail.  That's Tim, and we love him to pieces.

He was very decisive about his feast.  He was going to have a "weight" theme.  (I know I gained weight during his feast- but he wasn't talking  about that kind of weight.)  Weight, like muscle building.  The guys have a home gym and weights in their room and he's enjoying working out with John.  So, he spread the table with a white table cloth and his center pieces were various sized free weights, a pair of weight lifting gloves, a jumping rope. He put on his athletic garb and explained to his guests that he had a special feast prepared for them- Tim's Diner, and he would be their waiter.  I do declare I heard him talk more during those two hours than I have over the past two months!  He was so tickled with what he had prepared for them and he was giddy as he went around the table serving them each course.  He found aluminum water bottles for them at the dollar store and that was his gift.   He made everyone very happy with tortilla chips with nacho cheese- mixed with salsa and chili.  Topped with jalapenos. Dr. Pepper to drink- they have this Ten Calorie type that's advertised as "10 manly calories." His main course was wonderfully seasoned hamburgers, topped with pepper jack cheese, on a toasted roll and tator tots.  All the fixings for the burgers were arranged on a big tray. The dessert was "cherries in the snow." 

Will read Romans 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."  We must have complete confidence that He exists, we must seek Him, we must come to Him and it pleases Him to reward us.


Friday, December 07, 2012

John's Feast...

This is John, age 16. He's kinda cute, isn't he? What can I say about John?  Pretty sure he's the tallest of our boys- so far.  It's been disputed on several occasions as it's a coveted position, especially when you're the fifth son. He's very thin and so when he walks... I don't know, it just makes me laugh. It's more of a lope than a walk, maybe.  Long strides. He spent Black Friday talking to folks in the long lines at Best Buy about God and the Bible.  His idea.  John has the uncanny ability to push personal discomfort aside and push on with what he wants to do. It's not that he doesn't feel it, he'll confess that his knees were shaking, but he just forges ahead. He wants me to say that the knee-knocking stopped after the third person. I suppose the captive audience was too good an opportunity to resist.  He smiles a lot and most people appreciate the guts it takes to go up and initiate a conversation with a total stranger.  And he genuinely likes people and that comes across, too.  He finds joy in everything.  He has a beautiful voice and loves to sing- he can mimic just about any singer you can name. Amazing range. He's a big help around here and easy company. He likes to camp out in cold weather, forge knives, build things, carve, and even sew.  He's creative and always busy.  He doesn't play video games or watch TV.  Maybe a movie once or twice a month.  Weird, huh?  But I'm not complaining.  We just  love the stuffing's out of him!

He met his guests by bursting through the curtain in a "straight-jacket." (A turtle neck shirt with the sleeves pinned together in the back.)  He was talking to several of his own personalities and finally said he'd go and fetch "the chief.'  When he returned, dressed normally with a clipboard in hand, he pulled the curtain down to reveal a gate of PVC bars across the doorway.  He explained why they were here and that he had hopes to rehabilitate them so they could return to be productive members of society. If they played nice and didn't spit on anyone they might one day get out. All the names were read as the gate would open and then shut ominously behind them.  Yes, he had an insane asylum themed feast.  There was a plain white tablecloth on the table- chess, dominoes and cards were the centerpieces.  No candles- that would have not been safe!  The appetizers were "meds"- consisting of trail mix in little paper dosage cups served on a tray with a side cup of jello. He had a cafeteria style lunch line where he slopped food onto their compartmentalized styrofoam plates.  Mashed potatoes, sausage gravy and biscuits. No forks allowed- you might hurt yourself. He had Jones sodas with those little straws that bend.  Dessert was chocolate pudding filled crepes with whipped cream and mixed berries. (One of their favorite shows has this guy in a mental hospital and he gets caught in a restricted area. He gets out of the fix by dropping his drawers, reaching for the sky and yelling, "Pudding!"  So that was the reason for the pudding-ish dessert.)  His gifts were these bouncy balls that are attached to your wrist by a piece of elastic and wristband of nylon and velcro. I had to retire when they started slinging those things around.  They are much more skilled, today, than they were yesterday evening.  Nothing broken, to date, even with a constant bump-bump bump being heard. 

 Will read from Malachi chapter 3- "Test Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, bring the whole offering into the tithe house and see if I do not open the windows of heaven and poor out such a blessing that there will not be room enough to hold it."  We need to live that way- don't hold anything back.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Let the Feasting begin!!!!!

It's that time of the year, again! Most of my blog readers have been waiting patiently for this day, but for the newbies here~

Explanation of Feast Days:
  • Quite a few years ago, I decided that the holiday season was just too full of thoughts and energy surrounding the "stuff we get." (As the parent of 8 children, I just didn't see any way around the holidays being a disappointment because of tight financial circumstances.) Children are naturally generous, but we can really ruin that by making the holidays about material things- which, let's face it, they won't remember a month from now, much less as they grow into adults.
  • So I decided to use, loosely, the lesson of Esther and create a month of meditation on the "service we give." Let's just try to do something simple in the service of others. Acts of kindness. Memories of time spent with family that will last them a lifetime. Not about stuff that money can buy, but about service that can be freely given.
  • Hence, Feast Days! On the first day of December, the children draw numbers to set up the sequence of Feast days- all fitting within the month of December, but may overflow into January. After the numbers have been drawn they all meet with me, individually, in my room and make out their menu for their Feast. It's all a grand secret. It becomes obvious that they have been putting a lot of thought into their menus for several months- and keeping it a secret- amazing! They try their best to choose dishes that are family favorites- ones they know their brothers and sisters will love. They also plan how they are going to decorate the dining room and what small gift they hope to give their siblings- there is a $5 limit on all 8 gifts and decorations, so you can imagine they are quite simple- like a pretty sparkly pencil, a holiday cup or a fancy bit of candy. The decorations can be gleaned from the attic or dollar store and with a bit of tinsel thrown in, it usually is quite festive!
  • I take each child to lunch the day before their feast and then we go shopping for their ingredients. They have to heft all the food into the house while the other children are hiding upstairs. The kitchen is curtained off from prying eyes and we begin to cook. What fun this is for me to have the company of each child as they excitedly giggle and whisper about who is going to be the most surprised and who is going to like which dish the most!
  • Then, my favorite part. The child opens the curtain and very ceremoniously invites his guests to the feast. The children are so sweet and encouraging about the decorations and the good smells. We sit around the table and Bill reads a scripture then we each say what we are thankful for and after the prayer, the feasting begins. The server is the child who prepared the feast and they always wait until last to serve their own plate. The food is usually stashed away in the oven to stay warm and so it is a lot of fun to see what comes out next!
  • Finally the dishes are done by me- my service. 
Abe's Feast...

Abe(age 9) is known by his nick name "little man."  He's the youngest of our six sons and, like many youngest children in large families, he is a bit more grown up than other kids his age.  He's very laid back and easy going- for the most part. (Last week, we heard him sobbing up in his room.  It was a real humdinger and we waited, and waited, for him to get it all out. He came downstairs- still trying to get a grip on his emotions, and we asked what was going on.  When he was finally about to articulate clearly he waved his hands in a vague way and said, "Sometimes it just builds up."  Which is an altogether true and wise observation. By my estimation, he can take about two years of accumulating enough angst for it to finally "build up." We all finished what we were doing, cuddled on the couch and watched a funny Xmas movie.  That seemed to fix what ailed him.)  Maybe he just needed to slow down.  He's one of those kids that enjoy the occasional outing but you can see that it wears him out and when we return home he will mention, several times, how glad he is that "things are back to normal."  He loves to ride his bike- with the prerequisite daredevil stunts that Mom "needs" to see.  No one ever said that being a mom to so many sons was for the faint hearted. He is thoughtful for someone his age- he now sits with a lady at church because her granddaughter has moved away and he was worried grandma would be lonely.  He's just a very sweet boy. And did I mention we love him beyond words?

Abe did an spectacular job on his feast.  He got to go with his Dad to the bank a few weeks ago.  He'd never been inside- just the drive-thru. Apparently, he was impressed because he had a bank theme for his feast.  The bank had, literally, dozens of play dollar bills strung on garlands across the dining room, scattered on the table, hanging from the ceiling fans- (and this from the boy who won't take any of Mr. Jim's change because, "Money is the root of evil."  Mr. Jim explained that it's the love of money that causes the problem.  I suppose since the money in this case wasn't real...)  The dishes all had green on them.  The table cloth was green.  He had Mt. Dew to drink because it's green.  The most impressive part of the feast was his idea for the drive-thru.  He and his Dad found a long piece of piping in the garage and they engineered it to begin in the kitchen and end in the dining room on a downward slope.  The patrons of the bank put their deposit slip- with their name and what they wanted on their fries- chili and/or cheese- in an eye glass case. Abe had tied a string to the case and- whoosh-  he'd pull it up through the shoot.  The kids loved the fun of that.  They were even more tickled when he sent their request back down the shoot!  Dad and I helped him put the fries with the chili and cheese in a large solo cup, invert another cup on top, duct taped it together and it slid perfectly down the tube. Everyone agreed it was the best fries they'd ever had. He served homemade chicken and noodles for his main course- with peas- get it?  They're green.  He made four triple batches of noodles.  Abe always cranks the pasta maker for me and that's a whole lot of cranking. He had rice crispy treats cut into thick circles- like money- with a dumdum standing out of the top- 'cause "fancy is my middle name."  We had a great time. Bill read Matthew 6:19-34. "Consider the lilies of the field."  A good passage for Abe's feast. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1970 orange and gold

feather border

feathery meander
Keeping an open mind...

As usual, I've been busy.  In a good, non-stressful kinda way.  Which is probably not usual.  More's the pity.

This quilt was made by my friend Jane's mom.  Yep, from a Hirschner's catalog back in the 1970's.  Jane didn't think she liked it.  Might have been a little too... orange. Of course, it's orange so I gotta love it.  I talked her into quilting it.  That really wasn't hard.  She's the one who made the decision to hand quilt it- because all of that applique is by hand.  I get that.  But and however, the quilt has been sitting in a closet for 40 years... is it really something you want to put that kind of time and commitment into? I didn't voice my reservations and, somewhat predictably, it didn't take long and she was handing me the quilt- after ripping out some of her handiwork.  Turns out she doesn't particularly care for hand quilting.  Well, you never know until you try.

So I lived with the quilt for some time.  Maybe too much, but you remember the wedding dress and the wedding, right?  I was distracted. But now, it's quilted.  She'd putting on the binding and I think she'd liking it.  Even if it is orange and gold.  Ya gotta keep an open mind. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Koen

Just wanted to share our happy news!  The wedding was lovely and now they are on their honeymoon trip in the mountains.  We're all very weary, so I'll make a proper update, later.  ~nines

Monday, September 17, 2012

Loreena McKennitt - The old ways

Diagonal it is

something for their wall

the bride with her quilt

Happy Fall, Y'all!!

As you can see, I decided on the diagonal setting- especially since I also decided on a busy border.  That made the quilt a very generous queen size.  There's a couple feet of quilt folded up under there on the ground.  My helpers are shorter these days than they used to be.  I'm also  a little more pressured than I used to be as the girls' arms just don't have the stamina the guys had.  But they get the job done and that's what counts.  The small quilt is a wall hanging- maybe for their kitchen as that's the colors they were thinking of using- subject to change, of course.  Mary looked pretty pleased with her quilt and that's what it's all about. 

32 days til their wedding.  But who's counting?  I'm swimming in a sea of satin and chiffon.  Doesn't that sound kinda poetic?  And it's not a bad sea to be swimming in.  I've been spending almost eight hours a day in my quilting room making a wedding dress.  I'm going very slowly.  No room for mistakes so let's not make any, OK?  OK. I actually dream of making wedding dresses.  Last night, it was wedding dresses and bridesmaids' dresses.  See?  I rather enjoy making this. But I think I should be able to "leave it at the office" so to speak.  don't you?  But it's occupying a lot of grey matter.  I've spent the better part of a month plotting and planning, drafting and re-drafting.  Finally, cutting.  The scariest part of the equation 'cause there ain't no fabric to spare.  (Poor grammar, but I didn't say what I wanted to say and that's, " Ain't got no fabric to spare." There, I said it anyway!)  Bekah took a peek into the quilting room while I was cutting and laughed at me- the snot!  "Mommy, you're hands are shaking! hee-hee-hee." Yeah, hysterical.  When I expressed my dismay at the daunting task before me, John just says, "Mom ya gotta sew by faith."  So this is me, sewing by faith.  One inch at a time.  Little by little. Just me and Loreena McKennitt.  She never pressures me, but encourages me to float serenely along.  Ever hear of her?            

I'm enjoying myself and the time I am spending out there, sewing.  Every day I make progress and it brings me that much closer to the finished dress that is turning into something rather lovely. And the happy day of their wedding is another day nearer.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


#1 or #2??

I feel like I'm at the optomotrist's.  #1 or #2?  1 or 2.  And honestly, I can't tell the difference between one and two.  Of course, here I can tell the difference in how they look, I just can't tell the difference in my preference for Jacob and Mary's quilt.. If I make #2, I need to make another large leaf- which is no biggee as it only takes about ten minutes to make one. So that's not a consideration.  #1 has cleaner lines, but #2 looks a little more interesting... The leaves stand out as leaves more in #1...  The leaves look more like they're tumbling in #2... But #1 looks like the leaves are falling...They're both ok. And I'm sure they'll like either.  They're both easy to please.  I'm leaning towards #1... I think.  ugh.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

20 gallons of peaches- aren't they lovely.  They've been frozen, eaten and shared
 Everything's Peachy!

What happened to my summer?  It flew by. I think it's technically still summer, but you would never know it from the weather.  I've been wearing socks, long sleeve shirts and sipping hot tea. And that's a shame because I like hot weather.  And cool weather comes soon enough in the midwest.  Maybe we'll have a warm autumn.  The crickets and the birds already think it's Fall, too.  The crickets are loud and the birds are quiet.

About 60 new postcards made

 I've been making some postcards to replenish my supply.  I've been trying to get postcards out to the sick from church and also for the birthdays.  I use up postcards pretty fast that way.  It's been an unexpected pleasure- people that I rarely have a chance to speak with will make a point of finding me and thanking me for the card.  Not that I'm seeking the thanks, but it's wonderful to connect and fun to see how much a silly postcard meant to them.  And there's the novelty factor- a nice surprise for them.  Wish I'd thought of doing this more regularly, earlier. But with using so many postcards, I'm having to make them more en masse- which isn't quite as much fun as doing each one differently.  But much more time efficient.
happiness is... doesn't take much

Come on. Tell me all you quilters out there didn't feel your heart go pitty-pat and a tingle zip down you spine at the sight of all those wound bobbins.  It makes me feel so secure.  Of course, I'd rather have a box full of cream colored bobbins, but you know how we are, any thread will do when we are chugging along.  I like to get my sewing thread from "Thread Art" as their prices can't be beat.  But I guess a whole lot of other quilters like to do the same and the cream, beige, tan, gray threads are always on back order.    

Love this for their fall wedding

Jacob and Mary's wedding is quickly approaching.  I'm working pretty diligently on their quilt. The wedding is two months away, but the shower is much closer.  (Bekah said I shouldn't post a picture of the quilt in progress as she's seen Jacob visit here.  Who knew?)  But I'm still gonna- 'cause we all know that things look different in person than they do in a picture.  Plus, I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out. There are 21 of the 12" leaf blocks and 42 of the 6" leaves.  This picture is just a few of the larger ones.  And the cool thing is, that I didn't have to buy a single fabric especially for this quilt- they were already in the stash. Making scrappy quilts, almost exclusively, has it's perks! Someone asked me the other day how I choose colors for a scrappy quilt that works.  How do you know they all go together?  I've given it some thought and here is a short list of my process:
  1. It has to make me smile.  I start pulling colors and if I smile when I lay it with the other colors, then it's a keeper.  Sometimes it'll get booted off the team because another color will make me smile even more and I move in another direction.
  2. I think of colors as members of a family.  Every family member is unique, but have some kind of similarity.  And I've noticed that in families there is always that oddball who everyone thinks must have been adopted.  But without the oddball, it wouldn't be a real family.  So a color that seems unrelated has to be there- just try not to make the family so dysfunctional that all of them are oddballs!
  3. Never include seasonal (Christmas, Halloween, Easter) fabrics.  Never ever.  Nothing will hi-jack your quilt back to 1973 faster.
  4. Try to keep your neutrals in the same tone and shade.  This isn't a hard and fast rule, but it will help the design pop. Sometimes, I use different shades to accent different elements in a quilt and that works well if you have a limited amount of neutrals.
  5. Relax.  Don't over think it.  Do you think great grandma dithered over which fabric to use in her scrappy quilts?  I doubt it. I've seen ladies spend two hours choosing the "perfect" fabric for binding.  Really?  I can usually choose the fabric for an entire quilt in less than 30 minutes.  Am I that good?  No way.  I just relax and have fun. That's why we quilt, right? To have fun.
Daniel is coming home for a short visit.  I'm beyond excited.  His birthday is tomorrow and we're celebrating, tonight.  I'm frying chicken, mashing potatoes, making gravy and yeast biscuits. And there's corn on the cob from the garden. And because it's Daniel, apple pie and ice cream. 

Hope everyone has a blessed day!         

Monday, July 16, 2012


New members of the family!

Two sweet boys were born into the family, this month.  I've two new, very handsome, great-nephews and I'm just pleased as punch- like I had anything remotely to do with it!  

Joshua looks so much like his daddy and grand daddy it's amazing!  I have yet to meet him as he lives in Florida.  My nieces(his aunties) are visiting next week... maybe I could talk them into a little kidnapping scheme... ya think his momma and daddy would notice?  Yeah, you're probably right.  But what's a great auntie to do?

My great-nephew, Asher, was born yesterday.  Isn't he just the juiciest thing?  We are keeping his two older brothers while mommy and daddy cuddle the new one.  I have to say that I am enjoying myself, intensely!  Bill says, "You're so good with children... maybe we shouldn't have stopped!"  Whoa cowboy!  Let's not get carried away!  And kinda funny the near surprise in his voice that I could hold my own with little ones- I did have a few of my own, ya know! But it's sweet to have little ones around the house, again.  Children, what a blessing!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Woohoo!  Finally!

Saturday, Already?

How did that happen?  The way of things, I suppose.  I had a good week. Got the pool set up, finally.  Will, my hero.  He worked so hard. The water was delivered, yesterday.  Of course the two youngest had to jump right in.  It was inexpressibly cold, but that didn't stop them from having a wonderful time. I put my feet in and between the cold water and the hot sunshine, it was very pleasant. As you can see, the pool sits on our back lot and is in the middle of pretty much nowhere. Just the breeze rustling in the corn to keep you campany.  And now the shouts and squeals of excited kids.  It's all good. I guess they stayed in almost two hours before the shivering and the chattering teeth sent them into the house. Funny how not having air conditioning isn't a big deal...

"that's what I'm talkin' about!"

The breakfast of champions... Bacon and freshly ground and brewed coffee.  Jacob is old-school.  He has an antique coffee grinder and insists it makes the best coffee.  And the bacon he got at work, where, who knows?  He might have been acquainted with the pig while it still stood on four feet. That guy loves his bacon. 


Lilly has a pool her own size.  Abe got her a pot of water to pour on the sand to make it easier to play in... it was no time at all before she dove into the pot.  And look how pleased she is with herself!  She is the older daughter of Jason and Lindsay B. and they came for dinner the other night.  We hadn't done that in a long time. So, you guys make the effort look up some old friends and have them over.  It's not as hard as you think and it's well worth the effort.

Isn't that a silly and fun quilt?  I have no idea of the name or designer.  I quilted it for Glenda J. and she did a wonderful job of sewing it up.  Can I just say, that is way, way too much applique for a simple girl like me.  To each her own.  I have a "Grandmother's Flower Garden" on the frame, now, and the red snappers made that a much easier job as the edges of that quilt has that uneven design of hexagons.

I'll hopefully, be quilting, wading, babysitting and sewing, today, with some cleaning and gardening thrown in there, somewhere.  Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morning Folks!

Absolutely no sewing this past week.  Well, not absolutely no sewing.... I did piece a backing for a client... but I really don't think that should count. It ranks right up there with sewing curtains in my book- boring! Oh, and I mended a shirt for my nephew- a two inch tear.  Again, hardly noteworthy.  I have a more open week than usual and hope that the sewing machine will not be such a stranger. (Though, "open" is a comparative term.)  Nothing specific in mind, but I'm pretty sure something will come to mind, dontcha think?

We've been working, sweatily, on getting a pool set up.  Is "sweatily" a word?  Well, it certainly is accurate in this case.  Sandy gave us a pool and we have been trying to get it set up.  Three times we had to set the walls up.  I was beginning to feel some resentment towards Sandy as our laboring seemed to be in vain.  But we are finally reaching the end of the battle and I sure hope it'll be worth it!  The little children are extremely excited.  I think the big guys will be too, once it is set up.  Presently, they are traumatized by the amount of excruciating suffering involved. Truly an ordeal.

I walked into the house the other day and these two pairs of shoes just made me smile.  Mary Ann wears her boots just about everywhere and there they were plopped right next to Jacob's shoes.  I just thought the comparison was funny.  Jacob wears combat-styled boots most often, but for comfort, he says these can't be beat.  I don't think I want something between my toes, but everyone I've spoken with that owns a pair similar to these, agrees that they are extremely comfortable.

Well, the rooster is crowing and that garden won't hoe itself. Have a great day!  I'm plannin' on it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy Thursday!

My favorite day of the week.  Maybe I start my weekends early... I've had a stellar week.  Been very busy, but in a "things I wanna do" way instead of a "things I have to do" way. 
Sweet William teaches a Bible class at the prison and about twice a year, I make cookies for them.  So, Monday and Tuesday I baked.  I made chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, chocolate w/white chips and macadamia nuts, peanutbutter and gingersnaps.  I also made oreo balls and peanutbutter smoothie treats.  I doubled, tripled, and quadrupled the recipes and the oreo balls, I made six batches.  All in all, two banana boxes full. That was a lot of baking.  How is it, that the oven does all the work, yet, I'm tired?  So for a break, I stained my swing.  It looks very fresh and pretty. One of my favorite places to be. Two days in a row of not going anywhere.  It was intensely pleasurable. 

I made a jumper for each of the girls- just something loose and comfy for wearing around the house and playing in. So I got to sew.  Score!  They were so surprised and thrilled.  I love seeing that in my children. Unfortunately, Eva has been a little under the weather.  She has some swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat and fluid in her ears, but the doctor thinks her own immunities will thrash it out.  She did nearly pass out on Monday evening.  Not fun for any of us.  She simply said, "Dad, I'm not feeling so good." and we all turned to look at her and the boys are like, "Whoa!" and Will and I both yelled, "Lay down!" She was positively gray.  I think she was just trying to do more then she was really up to.  After a huge jar of ice water and a shower, she seemed fine and she's doing better every day, now. 

I know it's not Friday, but I want to talk about one of my favorites.  Twilight watering.  I absolutely LOVE to water my garden and flowers when the sun has set and the air is cooler.  The lightening bugs are started to gently drift up from the corn fields.  Just lovely.  So quiet and peaceful.  The sound of the water splashing and feeling the coolness of it on my feet.  Like I'm a a plant in the garden, soaking it up.  You can even hear the plants and  flowers sigh.  You go ahead and try it- but ya gotta be barefoot.  Ya gotta be.

The weather is a trial.  It hasn't rained in a month, the grass is all brown and crunchy.  The varmints are more bothersome than usual- I lost count of the chipmunks, mice and shrews we've caught.  John could tell you as he gets paid 50 cents for each one.  Will shot 7 groundhogs. Moles are everywhere.  It's a nuisance to us, but I can't help feeling sorry for them as they have no water on tap. Below is a bird bath we set out.  A country birdbath and hardly picturesque, but the birds don't seem to be picky. I dump it on the flowers in the evening and refill it with fresh.  The seeds I planted are slow growing. But growing, all the same.  The garden is a dust bowl, but we water each little plant in the evenings and mornings and I'm quite proud of them for doing so well.  Of course, I avert my eyes from others' gardens that have ready access to water. (It's funny how people laugh and say, "Oh, we've already had two pots of beans from our garden." And, again, they laugh.  Is that nice?  I don't think so. I find it very anti-amusing.) Ours is watered one bucket at a time.  30 lbs per bucket. I need to have John devise me some sort of yoke as it's a fair walk to the garden and while my arms are getting a workout, my shins are taking a banging.

Well, folks, that's all the news that's fit to print.  In a manner of speaking. I'm having another day at home here.  Woohoo.  Who knows, I may be able to squeeze another day home this week.  Doesn't that sound deliscious?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A lizard named Abraham


Guys, I am so sorry!!  I didn't mean to be away for so long. Sometimes that's just how it goes, I guess. Again, I am sorry.

We've been up to quite a bit, lately.  Summer things.  We got the garden planted.  You'd be so proud of me, I only planted 25-30 tomatoes and the corn and green beans I reduced by about a third.  Rather glad I did as we are in the middle of a drought.  When we hoe- 'cause weeds aren't as affected by dry weather- plumes of dust raise off the garden.  So sad.  There is just no way to water that much garden, effectively. I feel like I'm on one of those survival shows, rationing out water. A cup here, a cup there. Choosing which plant lives and which might die.  Sure could use some rain.  God's will, though.  Abe was "helping" me weed around the flowers.  I thought he looked rather like a lizard on that rock. It was a lovely morning and a good time to lay around in the sun.

paper pieced zipper bag

Did I mention my sissies came for a visit?  We had such a good time, as always.  It is a real joy to have them come. Just sitting around talking, eating out and talking some more. I made this little zipper bag while they were here.  (And I, vaguely, remember sewing something else... I just can't remember what...)  This little bag is only about 2 1/2"x4" and is for the dreaded glucose meter.  But it makes me smile when I get it out, so it's all good.

Jacob and Mary

Jacob, son #3, became engaged, this week.  Now that's big news, isn't it? Mary is a lovely young lady and we welcome her gladly into our family. One thing I have to say, is that our sons have impressed me thus far in their choice of important people in their lives.  It gives me peace and helps me feel like we didn't mess up, too bad.  Jacob just got a new job as a meat cutter at a local butcher shop.  He gets to work with sharp knives, so I think he's gonna like it! They are planning a October wedding.

Melanie and Daniel

And while I'm showing off my sons' good taste in women, I love this picture of Daniel, son #2, with his sweetheart, Melanie.  And she is a real sweetheart.  Such a dear, gentle spirit. Daniel has plans to move to Boston in the Fall and so, coincidentally, he'll be nearer to her and her family who live in New Jersey. In the mean time, he's putting a whole lot of miles on that car of his.
Red Snappers

In quilty world... Lookee what I got for my birthday!  You know my sweet William.  He heard me mention these really cool "Red Snappers" that I saw in a local quilt shop a few weeks ago.  He did some investigating and scheming with Sandy and bought them for me.  He took me out to lunch and before we go in, he pulls a gun case out of the back of the van.  He's looking all sheepish and says, "How am I gonna sell this?  But this one is just for you." And I'm thinking, "That man will use any excuse to buy a gun!" Of course, when I open it... I was greatly surprised and not a little relieved. For all those long armers out there, I have a feeling you might like these, too.  They are plastic tubes that slide into a casing at the end of your leaders and then there's these split tubes that snap over them and hold the quilt in place while you quilt.  No more pinning!  (You get a few shorter split tubes to hold it all in place until you snap the longer ones on).  Way cool.  I thought Sarah over at would especially like them as she absolutely hates to pin quilts on.  I don't think it's such a bad job, but it is time consuming and eats into quilting time. But then, I actually like to bind quilts so there's no accounting for the things we like and dislike.  Sandy got me a new ruler.  She visits and sews with me from time to time and she's been appalled at the condition of my old ruler.  But, hey, I've had that ruler for 12 years and maybe I was emotionally attached.  Maybe.  All the markings were rubbed off but I could still tell where to cut, mostly.   

Speaking of things quilty... I might get out there and actually sew. Its been a couple weeks.  Do you think I remember how?