Monday, October 31, 2011

Vintage 8 Point Star Motif Pattern and Wisdom

Years ago my mom found an awesome old crochet patterns book for me at a resale shop. It was from 1946 and some of the things in it are just awesome. It has everything from sweaters, gloves, hats, baby things, bedspreads, edgings and of course many, many doily patterns. I love it because all of the patterns are authentically vintage.
  Another reason I love this book is for the chapter introductions. It was written for homemakers and it is full of wisdom and inspiration for making a house a home. It was written in a time where women took much pride in filling and making their homes lovely and homey with things that they had made.
 Here is the introduction to the Dress-for-Dinner Tablecloths chapter, where the following pattern is taken from:

  "The dinner hour is one of the most pleasant interludes of the day. Work done, problems temporarily forgotten, the family gathered in a's an hour for sociability and relaxation, for hearing the day's news and telling it...for sharing fun and making plans...and hour which plays an important part in strengthening the ties of affection and friendship that weld a family into a close-knit corporation.
  It deserves the most attractive setting you can give it. There's no excuse for a nondescript looking table--inexpensive dishes come in so many pretty colorful patterns. Make a habit of arranging the table as attractively as possible, bright silver at each setting, a pretty cloth, a gay centerpiece--a bowl of fruit, and amusing pair of pottery figures...bright decorations lend a festive note to the dinner table.
  Naturally when you have guests for dinner you want your table to look its best...your best crystal, sparkling silver, flowers...and one of your loveliest, laciest, dressed-for-dinner cloths...take you choice of the eight beauties in this chapter, making a handsome background for a table that looks "just like a picture". "

 The pattern I have shared today is one of my favorites. I haven't made a tablecloth from it yet, but who knows, maybe one day I will. I love the motifs and use them for mini-doilies and coasters. They work up very quickly and not much skill or experience in crochet is needed to make them. Enjoy and please let me know if you download the pattern.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Menu Planning

   I grew up in a home that was always busy cooking and baking--almost always from scratch. My mother helped instill a love of cooking in me by always letting me help her, even when my "help" was more of a hindrance than anything else. My daddy helped seal this love of cooking even more by praising my efforts and finding new recipes for me to try. I'll never forget the week or two I tried almost every day to perfect my buttermilk biscuits and make them taste just like my great-grandmother's did--just for Daddy. I did :) and he was so happy and enjoyed them so much. It made all the work worth it.
 Now that I am married, I have a husband who loves my cooking and raves on and on about it to other people. My cooking ability is a great source of pride to him--I think he really thinks there isn't anything I can't make!
 But guess what? I don't always know what to cook, or have inspiration for delicious, healthy meals. Some days I don't feel like cooking, or nothing sounds good at all. Most of the time when that happens I just make sure to have a protein shake and make myself eat something nutritious and move on. That is fine for me, but if you have a hungry hardworking man around the house, that isn't going to cut it. It is too easy to give into temptation and run out and grab a bite to eat--we live so  close to so many restaurants--but that isn't good for us or our bank account.
 I've found that if I plan ahead and make menu plans, we do better about eating at home and I'm not at a loss for what to make for supper.
 Not only does this help us save money, it also helps cut down on costs at the grocery store. When I make the menu plan for the week, I make the grocery list according to what is on the plan for the week. Also, I've found that making the menu plan after checking what is on sale that week helps a lot too.
  When I know what I am cooking for the week it keeps me focused and on track and I am not as liable to just aimlessly buy things. The worst thing for me to do is plan the menu while I am in the store! I will come home with all sorts of things we didn't need.

 My menu plans are very simple right now. I only really have to plan for supper (or dinner, whichever you prefer :) ), and only five suppers a week. Our weekend plans vary from weekend to weekend and we often spend them with my family in the country and Sundays are spent with his parents. So I don't have to plan meals for the weekends.
  Breakfast and lunch are often easy, no-brainers. For lunch I usually send Jacob a sandwich or leftovers from supper the night before, and sometimes he eats lunch out with someone from work.
 Earlier this year I decided to get with the program and plan and be more organized.  I started by making a list of all the meals I could think of off the top of my head. After that, I kept a running list close by for whenever Jacob or I thought of another one. Once I had a pretty good list compiled I sorted the meals into two categories: quick and normal. A few examples of quick: tacos/taco salads, cheeseburgers, BLT's, etc. I mixed up the meals and made sure to have at least one "quick" meal a week in the mix.
  Also another meal that counts as "quick" is a casserole or something from the freezer. Even though I've been cooking for two for almost a year, there are still some things that when I make them, I prepare enough for an army. Casseroles, soups and chicken pot pies, just to mention a few. Thankfully, we were given LOTS of glassware in our wedding showers so when I prepare too much, I can divide it into two meals worth and freeze one. This helps a lot, I just have to remember to set it in the fridge the night before or early the next morning.
I didn't assign specific days to the meals because our schedule is never the same. Below is the result of all that thinking and planning.

 Since then, I've added some new meals to my repertoire, and use the above list more as an idea springboard for when I don't know what to cook. I need to edit it and add more things to it.  I have some new crockpot/slowcooker recipes that are great on busy days or if we eat at home on Sundays.
This list lives on the fridge where I can always see it. I had been keeping it in my three ring binder that I keep my calendar and some recipes in, but it was out of sight and therefore, out of mind. Since it is on the fridge I use it all the time.
 I put together a "menu planner" earlier this week, inspired by one I saw on Pinterest. It has a spot for five suppers a week, and a place to make a grocery list. It is blank and I'll just plan the menu the day I buy groceries.  If you'd like to look at it or use it for your own menus, you can download it by clicking on the link below.

 Hopefully all these things will make it easier for me to stay on track with my meals. I do really well with lists and checklists.
 I'll be posting some new recipes soon, so stay tuned!

Encourage One Another Link up--Deep Roots at Home 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Contentment--Great Gain

 "But godliness with content is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6 (KJV)

  A house, a milk cow, chickens, a little place to grow things, a big porch to sit on in the evenings with my honey, trees, a clothesline, the sounds of birds and woods instead of traffic....these are just a few of the things that I wish for at least once a week. My husband and I love to plan and dream about when we move back to the country. He wants a pair of hunting/cow dogs and a shop where he can build things for us. We are both very visionary and it is easy for us to get very wrapped up in our plans and ideas.
 My mom and I were talking the other day about all of our plans, and my parent's plans to build a new larger home on their land. We were saying how we couldn't wait and how wonderful it would be and life would just be great.
  While we were talking I realized something. Even though I ache to be back in the country, and I can't wait to have all of the things I mentioned above, I really and truly am happy. Completely happy and content just as I am now. I never thought this country girl could be so happy in the city.
 I was so happy when I realized that because for a while I have been making a conscious effort to bloom where I am planted. It is very easy to not want to put down roots because "Oh, we won't be here long enough, why go to all the trouble?" Roots take work and when the season changes, it can be painful to be uprooted. It can be easier sometime to live the idyllic future we imagine than living in the here and now. Sometimes the here and now isn't any fun.
  I have been trying very hard not get so wrapped up in what we are going to do, that I don't get to enjoy what we are doing and experiencing right now. I really am having the time of my life, when I stop and think about it. I feel like I am on an adventure--everything is new and I am learning all kinds of things. I have time right now to learn and perfect new skills and I may never have this opportunity again.
 I've also found that the more thankful and grateful I am, the more happy and content I am. Instead of wishing for the day when we can move to the country, I thank the Lord for the things He has given us and worked out for us here in the city.
 For example: out apartment is a bottom story apartment. This makes it so much easier when I buy groceries, not having to cart things up stairs. Also, our grandparents are able to visit us more easily, since going up stairs is difficult for them. We are able to park our vehicles right in front of our apartment, which is a great blessing, especially in the winter.
 Our home is a larger one bedroom apartment, with a small laundry room in it. I am able to do all of my laundry at home and not have to go elsewhere, like some of my friends who live in apartments have to. I can do laundry at midnight if I need to :)
  We live only about eight minutes from Jacob's job. Sometimes he is able to come home for lunch. It is wonderful that his commute every day is so short.
  When I am content and happy, it makes things easier for Jacob. It says to him that he is doing an amazing job providing for me and that I have confidence in him. When I am content and happy our home is peaceful and a refuge. He has always jokingly said "When Mama's happy, everyone is happy," and to large extent, that is true. The wife is largely responsible for the tone and the atmosphere in the home. I want our home to be a place of peace and joy for him.
  So, slowly and surely, I am learning contentment and its benefits and blessings. I want to bloom where I am planted and I want the fragrance from those blooms to be a blessing to my Creator, my husband and those around me.

 "....for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11 (KJV)

Encourage One Another Link Up 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Loneliness and Transitions

I've learned a lot in the last nine months about loneliness and transitions. When I married, I moved from the country to the city, from one way of life to another. I changed addresses, churches, and left almost everything that was familiar and "safe" to me. I grew up in a small farming community where everyone knew everyone, just about, and if they didn't know me they knew my father, or grandfathers. My family has been in that area for close to a century.
 Now I'm in a rather large city on the outskirts of a really large city. I barely know anyone. There is not that same feeling of security that I used to have.
  Not only has all of that been a big adjustment, probably the hardest thing was going from a loud, happy, busy house that was always full of family and friends and life to being alone in an apartment most of the time. It was rather jarring, really. Going from having seven to eight other people to talk to and be with every day, all day, to just me, alone all day, was a huge change.
 The first several months were the hardest. I missed my siblings, I missed my parents, I missed my church and I missed the country. Yes, I had Jacob, and he was the fulfillment of all of my hopes and prayers, but I still missed my family. When you are as close to your family as I was  ( and still am) it is not easy to leave them. My mom is my best friend and we were used to being together, cooking together, drinking coffee in the was harder than I thought to leave them. My heart ached for them.
 Many nights after Jacob would fall asleep, I would get up and go to livingroom so as not to wake him while I cried from homesickness.
 I missed my church. I had grown up there, and now felt uprooted and like a stranger in a different land. My new church was wonderful, and loved me to pieces and went out of their way to make me feel loved and at home, but it just wasn't the same. It's a large church, and for awhile I felt that I wasn't needed. I grew up in a small church and I was very involved. I played piano, taught Sunday School, and helped with whatever else needed doing. Now I felt useless.
 To be honest, I was close to despair a few times.
  I don't think I could have made it through the transition without Jacob and the Lord. Jacob was wonderful and so understanding and gentle with me through all of this. He took me home to see me family A LOT. It was every weekend for awhile. We visited my church a lot those first few months.
  Whenever I would cry for missing everyone, he would hold me and pray for me, asking the Lord to help me and comfort my heart. He prayed for me a lot during that time.
 That time of loneliness drew me closer to the Lord and closer to Jacob. I'm beginning to understand "leaving and cleaving" now. It hurts sometimes. But it is necessary for growth and maturity.
  Things are much better now, nine months later. I still miss my family, and it hurts that I am missing so much of their lives--like my baby sister Faith has started walking this week, and I wasn't there. Those things still hurt. But I've grown accustomed to being alone most of the time, and actually sometimes I crave it. :) I guess I'm turning into a hermit.
 My new church is now "home" to me. My feelings of not belonging are gone now and I am very happy.
  I didn't know what I was in for when I married and moved away. So I will share somethings I wish I'd been told in order to deal with transitions and loneliness:
  • You are going to miss your family more than you can imagine.
  •  It's OK to cry. Don't try to hold it in, just cry and don't worry about it. You'll feel better afterwards, trust me. Tears can be healing.
  • Transitions and changes do not come easily or painlessly most of the time, but they are for our good.
  • Even when it hurts so bad and we don't understand, God sees the bigger picture and holds all in His hands.
  • It will get better. It may take a little while, but it will be better and your heart will stop aching as much. Just draw close to God and your husband and it will all work out.

Encourage One Another Link Up

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October already!

I can't believe October is here! Where has this year gone? It feels like it should still be in July or August.
 A cool front blew in last weekend and has made the temperature more bearable. Not quite hot chocolate weather, but at least now we don't have to worry about heat stroke. I can't wait to sit on the porch in the evenings with my honey and enjoy the weather.
 I've been busy with dress fittings, music practices and company the last week. The bridesmaid dresses are almost finished, though it is a little difficult since all the bridesmaids but one live about an hour away and work strange hours. Some of my creativity has been squelched by only working on one project at a time. I have probably close to fifteen (well, that may be an exaggeration) projects I'm dying to try, but I am going to finish the dresses first.
  My mom and sisters came to see me Friday. Faith says my name now and will take one or two steps by herself now. We all went to a few of the many resale shops that are close to my apartment and came home with some bargains :).
One of my finds was a very pretty king-size pillow case that I want to make into a little girl's nightgown. I found this tutorial and free pdf pattern and I can't wait to do it. I have never really cared for the pajamas that they make for little girls these days. I prefer old fashioned, modest and feminine little gowns :) And if they are made from pretty pillowcases, how much cuter can they get?
 After my mom and sisters left, my oldest little brother came and stayed most of the weekend with us. He has been wanting to get into bow hunting so this weekend Jacob helped him get set up. We spent several hours at the Bass Pro Shop on Saturday. I'd never been to that store before and all I can say is "wow". It's like a Gander Mountain, Cracker Barrell and Buccee's all rolled into one.
 And last but not least, a somewhat amusing story for you:
 The last several weeks I've been threatening to make gumbo again. After the disaster last time I made gumbo, I've been a little reluctant to try it again. But it sounded great to Jacob for supper last night so I summoned up the courage to go at it again, this time vowing not to leave the stove at all.
  Jacob requested okra again (yikes!) and shrimp this time. I am clueless when it comes to shrimp. I don't eat shrimp so I do not know anything about it. My mom had always bought the shrimp and taken care of it. Jacob suggested just getting some frozen cocktail shrimp and using them. So I did. They worked out great.
  Well, supper was almost finished, the cornbread muffins were almost out of the oven and I was setting the table. I went to stir the gumbo one more time and heard Jacob's truck pull in. I started dishing up the gumbo and something just didn't look right. Then to my dismay, I realized that I'd forgotten the okra AGAIN! All I could was laugh. Jacob came in the door and I told him what happened and he started laughing (thank heavens!). So we just delayed supper until the okra I added was finished.
Wait, there's more. Look at this picture:

 Yes, guess who left the TAILS ON THE SHRIMP? As I said, I don't know anything about shrimp. Jacob popped one in his mouth and about 3 seconds later out came the tail. Thankfully, he laughed again.
  What is really funny is that he almost sent me a text to remind me to put okra in the gumbo, but decided not to because "surely she'll remember it this time."
 Oh the joys of domestic bliss!