Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring is Springing

Have you noticed? It's a big thing for me, you know... We have a follower to the blog! Yay! If you want to follow and be alerted whenever I post anew or whatever, just scroll all the way to the bottom and click "Follow This Blog". School is just humming along right now... of course, I have totally dropped Latin. But otherwise, we're running on all cylinders right now. We should be done with the 3 R's sometime in May, and then, boy howdy, we're gonna farm like we've never farmed before! I'm soooo excited for the garden this year. Not just the food, either, I'm excited for the daffodils and tulips I planted, and the herbs, and lilies, and roses, and lavender I bought for the children. We were planning on some feeder calves, but haven't yet obtained any, and we're putting out feelers for a family cow, but that's not falling into place, either, so we're just focusing on what we CAN do... We can garden. We can tend our little flock of chickens. We can make things at home...
Speaking of that: I've been sewing. I bought some patterns for simple, classic clothes (Common Sense Patterns) for the Prairie Princess. She is such a Luddite. I've finished (except for buttons and holes) a very pretty ruffled collar, long sleeved blouse for her in white cotton with printed golden orangey and metallic silver polka dots. She tried it on after the sleeves were attached to talk about buttons with me:
"Oh, Mommy! I just love it! Especially since it's handmade!" the Prairie Princess gushes, and when I say gush, I mean it.
She's very gratifying to make things for. Really. She talks like she's Anne of Green Gables most of the time. I mean she speaks with all the emotion and emphasis and vocabulary. But she's not really a talkative person. She can't be when she's got two little sisters with "tongues hung in the middle."
Speaking of orange, again... I bought the fabric for my living room curtains. I know, I said I'd let you all give your input, but I couldn't wait. Orange, again. Shocking.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creative and Organized, is it Possible?

I was perusing Blue Yonder today and lo and behold, she linked HERE

I'm blown away. How could someone have such beautiful artistic sensibilities and still have such a clean, organized space?! It's as though her aesthetic and art have melded into a cohesive whole that I previously thought impossible. It makes me want to just go through everything and organize it beautifully... but perhaps washing the dishes should come first? Geninne's Art Blog is absolutely, fabulously, wonderfully inspiring, and can I just say that I love that she has a homeschool/studio.... That's what I need! I could just chuck the guest room and make that the school room instead of making it share space with the living room and dining room. I'll have to think on that one. I love her mixture of the orangey tones with the blue and brown, too.

OK, so news here is that I've finished baby Ava's matinee jacket and bonnet and am knitting away on the second bootie to finish off the layette. I think that if I was comissioned to make this layette I'd charge $250. It was fun, and the color is a joy to work with; bright, cheerful, and beautiful. But lace in fingering weight wool is VERY time consuming. Still, it's beautiful! See!

Also, I've decided to put up curtains in the living room. I bought cafe rods and ring clips, so now I just have to pick a fabric. I'm sort of waffling between blue and brown and orange... and green.

Finally, don't tell my husband, because he thinks it's silly, but I want to build a birdcage... I mean, not NECESSARILY for birds to live in... I could put plants in it, even fake birds, or a bird mobile, or some paper cranes or something... but I want a birdcage. Not the kind that has bars and scrollwork, but a nice, big one, with a wooden frame painted a color I like with window screening on it... maybe with grass planted on the floor.... Hmmmmmmm.... I'll have to mull over that one a bit more... I'll post pics of the living room and you all can give me opinions about what color curtains to put up, or whether it should be a solid or a print, geometric? and bold or subtle.... Of course, I'll do just what I want to, but I'd love your ideas, anyway!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Book of Days, a new series

I am Reading Exodus, Matthew, and Psalms/Proverbs, also looking over Plutarch's Lives, trying to come up with a reading schedule for next year.

I am Thinking about femininity. In many ways I am very feminine. But my girls are ever so much more so... they delight in a swirly dress, in pinks and purples, in graceful language and manners. I want to want to be modest, lovely, gentle, and eminently graceful... but I tend to be loud, opinionated, and clunky. I find that I'm conflicted about myself often... I am proud of my opinions, but not in my manner of sharing them. Often they manifest themselves in criticism and judgement which is awful. I want to think rightly, but love completely. I want to be attractive, but not in a seductive way. I want my manner to be likeable and winsome and loveable, but it is not often so. I find that today I am not pleased with myself.
Also, I'm thinking about milk cows and time management.

I am Working on a sweet lacy baby sweater in rasberry for baby Ava and reserving books for school.

I am Wearing jeans and a wool cardigan... but I wish I was wearing a wool skirt with warm cable tights.

I am Teaching table manners. This is a family vacation day, so no school!

I am Cooking roast chicken, green beans, and mashed potatos for dinner, plus some birthday cake!

I am Planning a three tiered birthday cake, spring gardening, and warm weather clothes for my girls.

Outside my Window it is sunny but cold... everything is asleep for the winter, dry, and brown. I see the bushes need to be trimmed down another 9 inches or so.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Book of Days

Now this looks promising! I can definitely see us enjoying using this natural recipe, project, science, and loving each other guide and memory book at Contentment. Over at The Crafty Crow you can get ideas for projects and enter a drawing for a year's subscription to the Book of Days from Blue Yonder. I am! If you don't win, you can buy a subscription online by clicking on "this" in the first sentence of this post.

Pleasant Work

My husband comes from a family of really hard workers. These people don't sit around and play games, they build patios together, they don't go out and buy an outfit for a baby gift, they make a crib... my husband's father is such a hard worker he pushes himself till he gets ill sometimes. I'm telling you, this has to be genetic, or something. My boys are really hard workers, too. My almost five year old today was clearing ice off the back patio, voluntarily. He was wielding this full sized shovel, jaw clenched, muscles straining, eyes determined, and not giving up. He smashed and shoveled and pushed and never complained once about the cold or the hard work. He just dug in there and did it. We actually had to tell him to go in and have lunch Right Now! He says, "I just wanted to be really helpful, Mom!" That is so endearing, because it's good evidence of an active personality and willingness to be useful. He was really, really helpful! My girls like to be helpful, too. They like to help with the baby and help with the meals and help with the kitchen, as long as they don't have to do it alone.

I think that working as a group, with people who you find pleasant, makes work pleasant. One hears or reads stories about quilting or husking bees, barn raisings, etc. in the past. Women used to just come and visit with a paring knife when the peaches needed to be put away, or ready with a thimble to help quilt, or even baby on lap and spinning wheel on the back of the donkey to sit and spin and visit. An agrarian life always has some task that needs doing at home, but that shouldn't keep us isolated. The old saying, "A man works from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." is true of all homemakers. The work is endless, and most of us, instead of resting when we have spare time, just pick up some work we've been putting off for when we've "got a minute." Often we let that get in the way of fellowship. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut and never reach out beyond one's family when home is most of your world. Why should we not have parties for butchering the pig, or canning apple butter? Why not let many hands make light work and have a good visit, too? Why not have "Upholstery Saturday" once a month and rotate to all your good friend's houses to help with home improvement jobs. It makes work pleasant, turns a curse into a blessing, and fosters community. Working together is also very good for family relationships, as long as the work is done cheerfully. Mopping the floor can be fun if you race to get your section done first, or Mama reads aloud while you scrub. I have very pleasant memories of singing with my Grandma while we did dishes together. We sang a round about Lilies of the Valley, which just happen to be my birth flower:

White choral bells
Upon a slender stalk;
Lilies of the Valley
Deck my garden walk.
Oh, don't you wish
That you could hear them ring?
That will happen only
When the fairies sing!

I say this, but actually it's hard to ask people to "come and help." I assume it's kind of like asking them to come to a "party" and then offering to sell them jewelry. It's not exactly a party, is it? Of course, if your neighbor helps you move and you help them cut winter fuel for their furnace, it all works out in the end, like an economy of tasks. You watch my kids while I'm having a baby, I'll help you put in sod. I help you build a tree house, you help me put up pickles. I help you butcher a hog, you give me sausage, or a massage, or a makeover, or a tractor. You get it! Now, my question is: is all that taxable?

Now, I'm not a born worker like my husband's family, I often would rather sit and talk than get up and help work... I'm not a hard worker, I'm kind of lazy. I'm really better at delegating... (yes, I know, I should be ashamed of myself). But, when asked to help move, or help cook, or help butcher, or help cut and freeze sweet corn, I work hard, because I can work and visit, too. And, what's more, I enjoy myself! So isn't it safe to assume that when you ask people to come and help they enjoy themselves, too? I'll have to sit and think on that!