Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7



Friday, February 05, 2016

A Bluebird of Happiness




Eastern Bluebird
photo copyright Praying for Grace



"How the waiting countryside thrills with joy when Bluebird brings us the first word of returning spring. Reflecting heaven from his back and the ground from his breast, he floats between sky and earth like the winged voice of hope."
– WL Dawson, Birds of Ohio, 1903



Thursday, February 04, 2016

Brisk Thursday Daybook






In the garden...
...yesterday was warm and very windy and today we woke up to a dusting of snow. We just never know what weather we're going to get each day. My poor daffodils just keep inching upward, with a warm sunny prompting one day, and then they shiver in the cold the next. The birds and squirrels seem to come no matter what the weather, but I haven't seen a chipmunk yet, which means it's still winter. Silly daffodils.


I'm thinking about...
...a foot surgery that is coming soon -- mid-February. I guess my Lent will be spent in a black velcro shoe with crutches, and I'll be offering up the freedom to get around and do the things I need and want to do. Some people would be happy to sit and bark orders out, but I'd rather do the work myself. We'll see how well I handle that. The surgery is to remove a neuroma in my right foot that did not respond to other treatment. I'll be relieved when I can stand without having burning in my toes. The burning from the nerves in my leg is enough of a trial.


I am wearing...
...a black corduroy skirt, plum long-sleeved top, a scarf, black leggings and boots.


I am reading....
...War Brides by Helen Bryan at night -- just started it a couple nights ago. I just finished listening to The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore ( a very good period novel), and up next is Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleeza Rice.


I am creating...
...mostly rosaries for my shop. This is the busy season, with Confirmations and First Holy Communions coming soon. I'm making one or two rosaries every day so my shop will be well-stocked (my fingers are getting well-callused). A sale every few days allows me to buy more supplies to keep working. I'll hopefully be able to get a lot of rosaries made post-surgery.

I also have some stitch-markers in my shop for those readers who knit. Miss Cheryl M. gave me a shout out on FB a couple of weeks ago, wondering if I could put some in my shop, and they turned out pretty nicely.







I finished the little green sweater I was making for my other Etsy shop and now I am working on another blanket -- stripes of white, wisteria and ice blue. It's rather boring knitting, but it serves its purpose.





I've also had a number of costumes from the dance studio to alter. I imagine that will continue until mid-May.


In the kitchen...
...lots of soups and stews and hot belly-warming meals. I'm doubling a lot of my recipes because my sister-in-law's mother lives nearby and she needs a little home-cooking love. I'm trying to deliver meals once a week. I'll have to triple my meals for the next couple weeks so I can deliver her meals and have some things put in the freezer for my recovery.


At the school table...
...chugging along. Faith is a little behind in a few subjects so I'm doubling one subject every day. Some days are better than others. C'est la vie.



Around the house...
...Candlemas is over so my goal today is to get all of the nativities put away. I haven't started my de-cluttering yet, but I need to get to work to get a little bit done in the next couple weeks.


Plans for the rest of the week...
...well, it's Thursday, so there is not much week left. The married kids are coming tomorrow night for dinner and laundry, and on Sunday we're going to Doug's brother's house for the big game (not that I'll watch a minute of it).  I'll have to be sure to take my knitting.



A few of my favorite things...
...Downton Abbey -- so far this season has been very entertaining
...a supply of pretty beads, and rosary parts
...good movies -- last night Faith and I watched the remake of Ice Castles and I put the older version in my Netflix queue because...Robby Benson? sigh...a window to my teen years
I also enjoyed Like Sunday, Like Rain -- a really good flick (adult language)



Prayers sent heavenward...
...for my husband and children, to do God's will every day
...for my cousin Amy who has a troubling infection
...for all priests and religious
...all babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion, for a change of heart
...for friends who have asked for prayers
...for a special friend who is going through a really hard time in her marriage








Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Daisy Chain Shawl Yarn Along (and a wip)



I finished my Daisy Chains shawl last week, but didn't get it blocked in time for last week's Yarn Along. 

It turned out pretty, though I'm kind of bashing myself in the head for making it gray. Gray, black, and navy tend to be my winter wardrobe colors. Why didn't I make this shawl a bright coral or powder blue, soft yellow or wisteria purple? Gray daisy chains are kind of like dead daisy chains. It's a good thing the daisy chains don't actually look like flowers.



I had a bit of trouble with this pattern. I am counting challenged, and the bottom pattern definitely requires attention. But, I did learn a new skill with the clusters in the centers of the diamonds.





As soon as I bound off the shawl, I started something familiar -- my favorite baby sweater. This time in KnitPick's Cotlin Sprout. The buttons will be dark brown. 




I'm listening to The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore, but I just started it, so no opinion yet. I read Divine Intimacy (pictured) every day. It's a very old copy, given to me by my mother-in-law. I love it. Also reading lots of cookbooks as I plan my menus each week -- a goal for the year. I love Michele Quigley's Menu Planner made just for this purpose.



Monday, January 18, 2016

Frigid Day-book




In the garden...
...today it's frigid outdoors. It snowed for a while yesterday, but today is dry, partly sunny, and freezing. It doesn't keep our little friends away, however. Faith snapped a few picks after we gave the animals their daily serving of peanuts.



Hello, Mr. Cardinal!


Bon apetite, Mr. Squirrel!


I'm thinking about...
...decluttering. 

I reserved the famous The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up to listen to. 


I'd like to unclutter like I'm moving, and then just not move. Or maybe be ready to move if I want to. As much as we love our house and the land we live on, I'm really tired of two flights of stairs for every load of laundry. My knees aren't going to hold out much longer. My younger brother just had knee replacement, and I really don't want to do that yet. There's a ranch up the road that I've loved since we bought this house 17 years ago. The couple is elderly and it might be nice to be ready if we ever decided to move.


I am wearing...
...a brown corduroy skirt and leggings, a gray long-sleeved tee and a scarf, with wool slippers.


I am reading....
...Divine Intimacy in the morning and not a lot else. I'd love to just snuggle up with a book, but when I stop and sit I always choose to do something -- knit, make a rosary, write a grocery list, or other really entertaining things. It's a bad habit. What have you been reading? Anything good?


I am creating...
...a 15 decade wire-wrapped rosary for a friend who is a Dominican Friar. The wire is really heavy and so I can't do many beads in a row, thus I have been working on it for a couple weeks.

I am almost finished with my Daisy Chains shawl. Maybe it will be finished to share on Wednesday. The pattern at the bottom gave me fits. I just can't do complicated patterns -- my counting (and memory) is deplorable.


I took my Jesse Tree ornaments down today and took a pic of all of them. I will post it as soon as I can get all the readings typed up. I'm so pleased I finally got them finished. In the embroidery department, I have a couple of scapulars to make.



In the kitchen...
...ltonight -- Zesty Chicken Bites and salad.

Last night for dinner with most of the kids, we had Yankee Pot Roast, carrots, turnips, mashed potatoes and rolls. I love these Sunday dinners when the grown kids come home. They bring their laundry and do it while they're here, so the washer and dryer get quite a workout on Sundays. So do I, though the pot roast was an easier menu. We also had a delicious pumpkin pie. I used roasted butternut squash instead of pumpkin. Yum!



I enjoy making Sunday dinner a little more formal and eating in the dining room by candlelight.


Butternut Squash pie.


At the school table...
...today is a day off because the university was closed and both Doug and Noah were going to be home. It would have been fruitless to do school, even if I had wanted to deal with my moody teenager. I doubt she would have learned anything, so it's just a catch-up day. I took a photo of our school cat on Friday, though. This is her spot all day when we school. She watches the birds and squirrels and dreams, I imagine, about eating them.



school cat




Around the house...
...I still have my nativities up, until Candlemas, but everything else is put away, and I'm trying to maintain a decluttering state of mind.


Plans for the rest of the week...
...dance lessons and a haircut, and, sadly, the funeral of the father of my dear friend Gina (you remember Gina?). Say a prayer for her family if you will. Her dad was a WWII veteran and was awarded two Bronze Stars. He lived a lovely long life -- he was 92, and I imagine he was overjoyed to be reunited with Gina's mom, who has been gone for about 15 years.


A few of my favorite things...
...Downton Abbey -- did you see last night's episode? (I won't spoil if you haven't)
...a hot beverage in my mug
...antibitotics (for another UTI) -- they're not really my favorite thing but I am grateful for them




Prayers sent heavenward...
...for my husband and children, to do God's will every day
...for all priests and religious
...all babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion, for a change of heart
...for friends who have asked for prayers
...for Gina's dad, God rest his soul









Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Pleasure and a Necessity





“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”-- Voltaire 




Days this week have been tiresome, trying this new method of eating, trying one recipe and then another with very little satisfaction. As someone who enjoys cooking, it is more than challenging to cook and find my food unsatisfactory. 

Tonight's meal was a success, topped with a dessert all seven of us enjoyed -- Paleo Flourless Chocolate Cake (though it did have butter in it, which apparently some paleo eaters eat and some don't). I'd be curious to try it with coconut oil instead of butter, but I am including dairy, so it doesn't bother me. It was soooo chocolatey.

Dinner was Danielle Walker's Greek Burgers, made into little mini slightly flattened meatball/ burgers that we ate like gyros, some of us with pita, some of us with romaine lettuce leaves with tomatoes and tzatziki sauce, Danielle's grilled zucchini salad (in her cookbook Against All Grains, Meals Made Simple), and roasted potatoes. All the family liked the recipes, even those who don't give a fig about paleo eating. 

If you have questions about the recipes, leave a comment. I would definitely make this menu again, and I know my family will be asking for this cake again, and again.



Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Epiphany Daybook




In the garden...
...tulips! Insane! I told them to stay in the earth because it was going to get cold, but they didn't listen. Now they're out there shivering. Actually they could be tulips, daffodils or crocuses, and the crocuses just went in the ground in early December, so I hope it's not them. 
The birds and other wild life are feeding all day every day and they have quite a buffet to eat from: peanuts (fed once a day mostly for the jays and squirrels, though the woodpeckers like them, too), thistle, sunflower seeds, dried mealworms, cracked corn and mixed bird seed. Don't you want to come and eat from my deck, too?




Faith has names for all the squirrels -- this one is "stubbykins" because he has no tail.


I'm thinking about...
...too much. The New Year is difficult for many people, including me, because, yes, I have goals, but I don't proclaim them. It's also still Christmas, and I don't want to forget that, but I have a lot of Christmas detritus that needs sorted through and put away -- wrapping supplies, receipts, food (thrown away!). The tree and decorations will come down this weekend.


I am wearing...
...a black skirt, black leggings, white knit top, black sweater and gray scarf -- my winter colors. 


I am reading....
...The Word Game by Steena Holmes. Still working on The Word Game, but listening to Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg, chosen randomly from my library's audiobook resource. 
I watched Tracks the other day on Netflix and now I have reserved the book from the library. It was a really good film, based on a true story, with Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) as the lead. 


I am creating...
...a 15 decade wire-wrapped rosary for a friend who is a Dominican Friar. That keeps me busy during the day. In the morning I am working on a new scarf, in gray (what else?), and at night I work on a baby sweater in green (I never get tired of knitting that pattern).





In the kitchen...
...lots of changes. I'm trying the paleo way of eating to see if I feel better on it. So far no dairy is really hard. I see now that I really depended on milk as my meal substitute. All I have noticed so far is that I'm hungry -- like real belly-growling hungry. It seems ridiculous that a glass of milk can satisfy me more than a plate of vegetables and meat or egg, but it does. I haven't felt satisfied yet and I'm not sleeping well. Hmmm. The only thing I am not avoiding is legumes, because I don't eat them often enough that they could be causing my problems, and they are a decent source of folate since I have to be careful how many leafy greens I get.



Sunday's dinner was popular -- Danielle Walker's Glazed Pork Tenderloin, and roasted butternut squash, turnips and mushrooms


At the school table...
...a rough start from the break. Every start after a break is hard for Faith. It's like I'm torturing her. More like she's torturing me.



Around the house...
...Christmas decorations and messes here and there and every where. The only thing under control is the laundry because my only resolution (if I were to say I make resolutions, which I don't) is to keep the hampers from getting to the top.


Here are a few pictures of the Christmas tables and my nativities on Christmas Eve (BBJ -- before baby Jesus). The kids' table (no one there is a parent, so they are kids) is the long one -- 11 kids. We are way outnumbered and they, except for Faith, are all adults now. Weird. 

The tables are not very pretty without plates -- we were eating buffet style.





This one has my Christmas candle in front of it -- it's made with frankincense, so I only burn it at Christmas.









Plans for the rest of the week...
...just getting back into the swing of things. My husband has to go out of town over the weekend, so hopefully I can get some of the messes cleaned up before he returns.




A few of my favorite things...
...the Epiphany and blessing the house
...a really good movie
...projects
...smelling my favorite oils from my new diffuser








Prayers sent heavenward...
...for my husband and children, to do God's will every day
...for all priests and religious
...all babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion, for a change of heart
...for friends who have asked for prayers









Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Yarn Along of the Year




It seems we've been on break for a long time, and yet, it seems I've not had a spare minute to relax. Oh, yeah, I'm the mom.

We hosted for Christmas Eve, with 19 for dinner -- the youngest being Faith. I just can't get used to these little kids all being adults now. They take up a lot of space and they eat a ton! All of my own kids came at varying times during the day on Christmas day, and Christmas dinner was at Doug's brother's house, but of course there was cooking all day long. There's no holiday for cooking and washing dishes.

So, after cleaning and then cooking for Christmas Eve, there was clean-up from Christmas, and getting the laundry back on track -- never ending. During laundry time, I have started singing the song "It was the Song that Never Ends" -- do you remember that from Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop? That's the laundry song now, because "it just goes on and on, my friend."

This week we were planning and cleaning for our annual New Year's Eve party -- really just family (and girlfriends/boyfriends). Faith came down with a stomach virus on Monday -- she was sick all night long, but it stopped in the morning and then she slept all day. She was fine yesterday, but 7 am today, Noah fell. He never gets sick so it's a real bug (Faith gets sick so often I never know if it's a virus or something she ate). Now I have to warn everyone and see what happens. We have an awful lot of fireworks if we're not having a party.

Anyway, I started this post as a Yarn Along, although I haven't read anything in weeks. I am listening to a book -- Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, but it's not very relaxing, as you can imagine. In fact, I think I've told Faith several times this week that she should never, ever get in a car with anyone, no matter what they say. She has no idea why I'm saying it, but hopefully she'll always remember it. Not that she's in the same circumstances as these girls. She'll never be walking from school or work, but then, you never know what situations teenagers can get into. Sadly, one of the girls was just 14, and Faith will be 14 in February. That thought terrifies me -- not that she's turning 14, but that this madman could have done what he did to a 14 year old. Well, that he could have done what he did to anyone is terrifying.

Mostly I've been watching Christmas movies and knitting. I started with this cute little beret for my cousin's little girl. The pattern and notes are on Ravelry. I learned a new trick knitting it -- cabling without cable needles. Yay for me!





Then I quick cast on a hat for my niece's boyfriend for Christmas -- and tucked in a Panera gift card to go with. Pattern and yarn notes here. That's Ginny's beautiful yarn there in the red (pokeberry). I had hoped to save it for something special, but Knitpick's shipping really let me down and the yarn didn't arrive until Tuesday before Christmas. The hat was almost knit by then.





My last project was a preemie hat and bootie set. I had wanted to try my hand at adapting my bootie pattern for a preemie and I think it worked, except I don't have a preemie to try them on! They are pretty tiny even though you can't tell in the photo. I think they are 2.5" long. The hat's a preemie size too. Hat pattern and yarn notes here and notes for revised bootie pattern here




Now I'm waiting for more yarn to arrive to start this Daisy Chain shawl. I need a big project just now.

Check out Ginny's post for more ideas -- and a book suggestion if you need one.





Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Merciful Christmas



“Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge



from my family to yours






Monday, December 21, 2015

Mercy -- the Most Important Gift





It's mad-dash week. With Christmas landing on Friday, most folks have almost an entire work week to dash around getting their shopping finished (or shopping started) and cram in all the other day-to-day activities that need to be done because of life -- laundry, cooking, cleaning. It's the craziest week of the year, I believe.

As a result of the craziness, many (most) of us forget what this great Holy Day is all about, or at least we forget in the moment -- when pushing a cart full of items that could have been purchased weeks, or even months ago, through a store crowded with other people who are frantically looking for the right thing, or maybe just anything to fill the need of giving. We forget when we gather with family and we observe our child's feelings hurt by a family member and the mother bear in us comes roaring up to full height. We forget while rushing about and dismissing someone's needs because we have a to-do list to get finished.

My mother reminded me this morning that we are in the Year of Mercy -- forgiveness is in order, forgetting hurt feelings for the sake of Mercy (and to keep from constantly poking that hurt inside, like one's tongue poking a sore tooth); giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, assuming that each person we encounter has a cross heavier than our own; looking at each individual with the eyes of Mercy -- as Our Lord does; giving much more than we get because each soul is more important than any earthly need. That is what this great Holy Day is about -- embracing the Infant God as we celebrate the Mercy He has brought to us through His birth.

So in this last crazy week before we celebrate the birth of Our Savior, remember that no wrapped gift, no baked cookie, no perfectly prepared meal is as important as the Mercy we show toward each other. I'm tempted to have it tattooed somewhere on my body where I can see the word and remember -- Mercy toward all God's children is the only thing that matters this season.

I'm checking out of social media for the rest of the week. I'll answer comments here and emails, but otherwise... silence.




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Los Posadas Daybook




Today is the second day of Los Posadas, the nine-day Mexican tradition that celebrates Mary and Joseph's journey into Bethlehem, looking for a place to stay. We're not Mexican, but what devotee of Our Blessed Mother can help but celebrate the pregnant Mary on a burro?


In the garden...
...brown, but warm. Each day I think maybe the weather will turn and we'll get winter, but not yet. Some days it's too warm even for tights, and long sleeves. It's crazy! 

The squirrels are hungry because the big oak trees in our yard failed to produce many acorns this year (did you know oak trees have cycles -- some years producing masses of acorns and others years hardly any?). The squirrels eat the sunflower seeds from the bird feeders and the peanuts we throw out for them every day. (I only do that in hope that they won't dig up my tulip bulbs in desperation.) The Blue Jays must be hungry too, because there are squabbles over the many peanuts available.




I'm thinking about...
...trying to stay in the Advent state of mind. It's difficult not to start panicking at this time in Advent, when so much is left to be done for Christmas. Mary on the burro sometimes helps -- she's still looking for a place to rest. But sometimes the thought of being nine months pregnant on a burro with no place to birth makes me panic even more.


I am wearing...
...pajamas and slippers -- it's 8:30 and I'm done for the day.


I am reading....
...The Word Game by Steena Holmes, but I'm only two chapters in, so no opinion yet. I just finished listening to Carly Simon's memoirs, Boys in the Trees, which I found to be very sad in many ways.


I am creating...
...the last few Jesse Tree ornaments in my collection. I made December 1 the cut-off for special orders in my Etsy shop -- scapulars, Consecration bracelets and rosaries -- and the weekend of Thanksgiving I received orders for eleven scapulars and two Consecration bracelets. I just finished up the ones owed to people for Christmas, and decided to finish up the Jesse Tree ornaments while I wait for yarn to arrive for one last minute gift. Will she make it?

I'll share a photo of my Jesse Tree ornaments after Christmas if you want inspiration for your own set.


In the kitchen...
...simple meals and very little baking. I'm only going to make a couple kinds of cookies this year -- too many were wasted last year.


At the school table...
...one more day of school until break. Woohoo! 


Around the house...
...everything is fairly clean  (at least for the moment) as we just got all the Christmas decorations up. With company coming next week, I'll have to do some tidying up again before Thursday.


Beginning


End


Plans for the rest of the week...
...well, there's not much to the rest of the week, is there? After school tomorrow I have a few errands to run, and then it's officially weekend. We have a family gathering on Sunday, but mostly there will just be last minute preparations and a little bit of baking to do.


A few of my favorite things...
...Christmas trees
...Christmas cards in the mail daily
...violet and rose candles
...new tubes of homemade lip balm and a new recipe for hand sanitizer


Prayers sent heavenward...
...for my husband and children, to do God's will every day
...for all priests and religious
...all babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion, for a change of heart
...for friends who have asked for prayers