Sunday, February 16, 2014

Welcome to X-Stitch Hall

A little while back I shared a small but hopefully growing collection of cross stitched treasures I have and a plan to eventually hang them in my front entry hall. Each of the pieces I've picked up send a clear message of the kind of home I want to have. A welcoming home-sweet-home where you are encouraged to live life at its best, a place of comfort and rest where family and friends feel God's love and are surrounded by interesting old treasures. :)

Several weeks ago, during a zip into Sally's, I scored a bunch of these brown metal stencil-tags at the bottom of a box of junk. I found the letters I needed to spell our last name and our house number for mere pocket change. I was psyched.

(According to that picture, I bought them at the same time as this $2.99 cake pedestal I never told you about.)

So I recently was inspired to finally unify the x-stitch frames and hang them up along with the stencils for our house number.  I ended up just spray-painting the two ugliest frames black, keeping one original black and one original brown. I don't mind a mix of brown and black, except when there's three black and only one odd-ball brown. So I decided to move another brown-framed piece of stitchery that was already hanging on another wall in the mudroom to join this mix and keep the other brown frame company. And like I usually do when nailing things up, I just sort of eye-balled the arrangement after playing around with potential layouts on the floor. Measuring is for cutting wood, not hanging frames.

Welcome to Cross Stitch Hall.

If you like my hanging collection of old cross stitch pieces then you're probably weird like me. If you don't, then perhaps this isn't for you. More on that here.  

Now I also gotta think about what color to eventually paint these walls. Suggestions?

The shoe/boot boxes were scored at a yard sale a couple years ago.

So I thought it was all set and I took my pictures when this dark hall is at its brightest. Then later that day I was digging through a closet for something and I stumbled across a thrift shop treasure that my daughter found in Florida last year. I just had to add it to this wall because, well, it just goes with the "home" theme:

I appreciate vintage needlework but I also like to dabble in it myself. I'll be honest though, I don't think I've picked up a hoop and needle since I've had kids! So sad. :( Lately, I've been itching to get back to my old  hobby and I'm having trouble deciding whether to start back with some doodle stitching or with this Martha Stewart template for our family.

I want to do a couple very small cross stitch and/or embroidery pieces but my stitching won't go in X-Stitch Hall.  I'd like to hang a couple somewhere else, maybe along with these beauties:

And this is probably a pipe dream, but I'd love to do each of these season patterns for our three season porch. Maybe I should break in the porch this spring with a stitching club. Who wants in?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Treasure Hunting in Snow

The snow had only been coming down for an hour or so this morning when I noticed some interesting, fresh animal tracks outside a 2nd story window. I decided then and there we needed to go out and investigate immediately. So we bundled up over our jammies and headed out, following what were deer tracks and probably bunny tracks all around our house and into the woods. It's so lovely out in the woods on a blizzard morning! The only thing I regret is not heading out sooner, before a lot of the animal tracks were already being covered with fresh snow.

Here are a few of our discoveries:

Two deer tracks crisscrossing (next to our tracks having trudged along beside them):

Where Bambi and Thumper met up early this morning:

It appears the deer lay down here before heading back into the woods? Odd.

The deer walked in a heart shape, just in time for Valentine's Day!

This one is hard to see, but there are two deer prints behind her very far apart. There was a section of their trail where they had to have been bounding to have their tracks spaced so far apart.

One of Poppy's piles in the junk graveyard makes a lovely bunny shelter:

These tracks led straight to a bunny home:

Bunny's front door. Or maybe it was the back door. Because there were both:

Just tonight for the girls' bedtime story, we are back at the beginning of creation, and I was reminded how God created this world for us. Every element of creation was created beautifully for our enjoyment. Not just green stuff. Not just the summertime. Not just the sun. Even two feet of snow in mid February is created beautifully for our enjoyment if we just take the time to discover it and really see it.

Well, I cannot lie - nature wasn't the only treasure we discovered. I did stumble across an amazing man-made treasure. How on Earth did I not see this until now? It was in a corner of the woods we go into the least and far enough in that I completely missed until it was covered in a big mound of snow.

She cleared it off for a place to rest.

I knew it was hanging around back in the summer when there was lots of construction underway around here. And I had every intention of snagging it. Then it seemed to disappear one day and I figured the workers hauled it off. I was so bummed. Well, surprise, surprise. They just buried it in the woods.

Oh, the possibilities! Do I keep in inside, along the likes of these (because we are still in desperate need of more book storage)?
Or do I keep it outside, along the likes of this (because we've outgrown our Little Tykes table)?

So my plan is to head back out first thing tomorrow morning if the snow isn't too high for my kids to trudge through!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Perhaps This Isn't for You

Blogging puts me in a weird place.

For one reason, it sometimes makes me look and/or feel braggy and proud. It's a creative outlet where I share a lot about what I like and what I do and what I create but I really don't like using the word "I" too much. (Well, not usually.) 

For another reason, it makes me vulnerable.

What if people don't care for my writing style?

What if people think that what I find to be beautiful is ugly?

What if people don't agree with my theology?

What if people don't appreciate my decorating style?

Last month I stumbled across a post by one of my favorite business authors, Seth Godin. (Oh, back in the day when I read his marketing books for fun...)

He talked about the humility of the artist. It just made me feel good when I read it and it's short so I'm quoting the whole thing for you here:

The humility of the artist
It seems arrogant to say, "perhaps this isn't for you."

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn't buy, the artist responds, "that's okay, it's not for you." She doesn't wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn't that arrogant?

No. It's arrogant to assume that you've made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can't possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don't get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Thank you, Seth, for helping me understand that I am "working to delight the weird." To my weird, faithful readers and sharers, I say, "Thank you!" If you'd like to receive my blog posts directly to your email inbox, sign up here (then make sure you check your email and click to verify).

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And to the rest of you I say, "That's okay, perhaps this isn't for you."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Filling the Rooms of My House

A few months ago, my girls and I had finished up a series we'd been doing for our breakfast time devotions and I wasn't yet sure what to do next. My oldest suggested one of her "Bible books" that was her favorite when she was about 2 or 3:

I'm pretty sure I picked it up at a yard sale (surprise, surprise) when she was a baby - but it was still way above her age level when she first started asking me to read it to her several years ago. I think she just liked the pictures and the characters. There's Joy and Smiley, who represent those who are searching for wisdom and trying to act accordingly. There's Mr. Wisdom, who represents wisdom and is ready to teach all who will hear him. Big and Bigger represent rewards and consequences as the result of wise and foolish actions. And then there's Mr. Bad Attitude, who represents those who reject wisdom. He's unteachable and always does things his own way. My daughter especially identified with Mr. Bad Attitude at that age and found his actions in the comic pictures quite humorous.

Each page of the book has a topical heading, a comic-type picture, and a paragraph summarizing/paraphrasing several verses from the Bible book of Proverbs that have to do with that topic. The wisdom of these proverbs were often way over my daughter's head back then but I remember trying my darndest to bring it down to her toddler age level. It was very challenging but I am a firm believer that reading and discussing scripture is NEVER a waste. God said so himself in Isaiah 55:10-11, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Now, several years later, when my daughter and one of her sisters are certainly old enough to understand, she has recommended this book for our morning devotions. And I'm happy to oblige, (although I skip the paraphrased paragraph and get right to the actual scripture). It would take us a too long to go through the 250+ page book cover to cover so we read and discuss it a couple of times a week between other things.

I've always loved the book of Proverbs. As long as I can remember reading the Bible of my own will and on my own time, Proverbs has been a staple of mine. Part of my testimony is how God has led me to make wise choices during times in my life when many of my peers were making foolish ones. God and His grace get full credit here. He spared me from living a life full of regret and I know it is in part because of the truths in Proverbs that have nestled deep within my heart, even at a young age. I recently stumbled across this MUST READ by Sally Clarkson about how God's voice always led her to pursue a different and opposite path than many. It really resonated with me because it takes wisdom to hear that voice and discern where God's Spirit is leading you.

I don't know the plans God has for my children but I sure as heck want them to lead lives marked by Godly wisdom. Part of the beauty of Proverbs is that it was advice written from a parent to a child. It's meant for us to read and apply to ourselves but also to teach our children.  I pray out loud with my girls daily, asking God to give me wisdom and give them wisdom. I remind them that God promises us in James 1:5 that "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." YOU HAVE A GUARANTEE TO BE GIVEN GENEROUS AMOUNTS OF WISDOM FROM GOD WHEN YOU ASK FOR IT!!! No strings attached! What an amazing promise!! Take full advantage of that. Daily.

There was one specific nugget of wisdom I came across in Proverbs not too long ago that really stuck out at me:
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” -Proverbs 24:3

I mentioned recently that I want to trend back to sharing more spiritual treasures in this blog. I love to fill my home with second-hand stuff that I go hunting for or simply stumble upon when I least expect it. It's a super-fun hobby and a creative outlet for me. But those physical things are not the real foundation my house is built on. My search for wisdom, understanding, and knowledge is of utmost importance. Those are the real precious and pleasant riches that I seek to fill the rooms of my house with.

So how do I do that?  Proverbs again shares the key in chapter 9:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Fear of the Lord is awe and reverence - not a scared fear. It's recognizing and respecting God as the Holy One, compared to me, a sinner. That is a starting point, together with a growing knowledge of Him. Not just knowing about God, but knowing Him personally. These are both accomplished in part by reading His Word. Getting my head and heart in The Book. I go treasure hunting for wisdom, understanding and knowledge in the Bible - God's Worth. It's Living. It's Truth. It's SO GOOD!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Will Work for Junk, Cont...

Last month I shared some treasures I scored the first day of helping my friend Lori in her moving process:

Well our last day of moving and cleaning resulted in her encouraging me to take a few more items home. Her basements has turned up the coolest stuff! (BTW, that usually proves true for estate sales too. I always hit up the garage and basement first.)

I was working on the main level when Lori called up from the basement - something about a box full old glass jars. After the beautiful bunch that my friend Heather literally dug out of her yard for me last spring, I'm not exactly wanting for any, but of course I had to go look. I was a good girl. I only took three. First, the giant blue Ball jar shown here (the small one I already had is only in the pic for scale).

By the way, have you seen this graphic floating around the web? (I cannot for the life of me find the original source.) You can date your jars based on the logo. That puts my little one at 1910-1923 and this big one at 1923-1933, if I'm not mistaken.
And I could not pass up this adorable pair of hobnail cups from Lori's box of glass jars. I'm not sure what their original purpose was. I'm assuming not shot glasses? :)  I opted for toothpick holders. Because, you know, I don't already have a white hobnail toothpick holder.

This little wooden box was sitting next to the boxes of jars so I just asked if I could have it. Knowing the mode Lori was in, it would have gotten tossed in the trash if I didn't claim it. 

Then I'd been eyeing this old broom brush hanging at the top of her cellar stairs.

On any other day I am not sure I would have paid much attention to it, but the weekend prior I'd seen an interesting display of exactly these inside the Cranston, RI Anthropologie store. I wish I'd take a picture when I was there but I didn't. I scoured the internet just in case there was an image of their arrangement "out there" but no luck. The closest thing I could find is this piece of art (that is protected from downloading so you'll have to click if you're curious).

I asked Lori about the brush the first day we were cleaning out and she urged me to take it but I didn't have any clue what to do with it so I let it be. But every time I'd pass it on the cellar stairs I became a little more enamored with it. Finally, on the last day, I told her I was going to take it after all.

I decided to find a home for the wooden box and broom brush in my laundry room, which I haven't really done anything with since we moved. It turns out the wooden box fits my open and spare box of dryer sheets perfectly.

On the shelf above my washer and dryer, I already had a little wash board, an old iron, and jars of clothespins and clothesline (all found at yard sales). My dryer sheets had been sitting right up there with them, but now they have a more fitting dispenser to hide them in. And I just hung the brush up on the wall right above it, keeping with a general housecleaning theme.

I appreciate unexpected treasure-finding opportunities like these to get me through until yard sale season starts again.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

All Things Homeschool

If you don't know, I homeschool. This blog is not usually about that, but I wanted to put together this one post to serve as a treasure-source of resources for anyone who is either a major skeptic, just curious about it, considering it, planning to do it, or even has been doing it and could use some refocus.

Before my oldest was school age, I NEVER thought in a MILLION YEARS that I would EVER homeschool. And then as my hubby and I started to investigate our options, I felt like God was putting it on my heart to at least include homeschooling in that set of options to consider. I fought it. Ooooh, I fought it. I was secretly praying that I could quickly consider and dismiss it.  I did NOT want to be one of THOSE families. I had my established stereotypes and they weren't pretty.

Well, long story short. God called us to it. The more I hesitantly investigated about homeschooling, the more it resonated so deeply and my attitude slowly changed from "God, don't you dare!" to "Thank you, God, I can't wait!"

One of the morals of my story is that when God calls, he also equips. God may be calling you to homeschool and you just don't know it yet! If you're like I was and the thought of homeschooling  sends you running in the opposite direction with your hands over your ears, yelling, "la la la la la!" then please, keep reading. :) Or if it sounds intriguing but you don't think you can do it, keep reading.

Homeschooling isn't for the patient. Or the organized. Or the _____________ (you fill in the blank). What I've discovered is that through my homeschooling journey I've been forced to let God mold and shape me into the more patient, organized, and _______ person that he alone has the power to do. I've seen him use homeschooling as a means to shape my family's character.

So the list of resources I want to share includes web links and books I have found to be very inspiring and helpful for deciding to homeschool, how to get started, educational philosophies, curriculum choices, organization and goals, etc... This post is dedicated to web links and I am working on a separate post that lists books I've read that were helpful for all the same reasons. I will be adding these resources over time so bookmark this and check back often. If you have any links you would like me to add, please share them on my blog's Facebook page, email me or PM me and I will review them and consider.

Even if you are convinced that homeschooling is not for you, please just read a few links. I would at least like friends to see where I'm coming from.

I've summarized each article with a heading and included the entire link below it so that you can always see the full source of the link before you click. Have at it! I hope these resources become treasures for you.

How People Come to Homeschooling

Starting with the End in Mind:  How to choose educational philosophies and methods based on your God-glorifying goals for your family.

Savoring vs. Shoveling Education

Why People Choose Public, Private or Home School

6 Homeschooling Misconceptions (Reasons TO Homeschool)

GREAT Christian Homeschool Foundations MUST READ

Setting Spiritual Priorities

10 Great Reasons to Homeschool

HomeSchool Moms Don't Have More Patience!

Reader's Digest on Benefits of Self-Directed Home study

Homeschool: Preparing for Life, Not a Test (10 Things Every Homeschooler Mom Should Know)

How to Homeschool: 10 Links to Help You Get Started

Homeschooling vs. "The Rat Race"

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