Monday, February 29, 2016

Big Leap Day sale at the thrift store

We took some toys and a little TV to the thrift store. They were having a big sale for Leap Day, so I had a look around.

For under five dollars, I brought home a duster coat (fits, but it's miles too long--help!), a t-shirt, a red button-up shirt, and this top.
The top says XL, which it isn't, no way; it was hanging on the end of a rack of plus-sized clothes, which I wouldn't normally be looking through; it's not a colour that stood out. But I thought I heard it saying, "take me home."
The skirt is one I shortened during my Thrift Sewing Week, and the belt came from the same shop.

And when we came out, it was raining, then snowing. March comes in like a lion.

To read this week: Dante, Malcolm Guite, Lenten readings

All three combined in a series of posts on Malcolm Guite's website.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sometimes I make stuff...out of other stuff (free tablet cover)

About five autumns ago, I went to a rummage sale and bought some blue-striped fabric. (It's under the red candles in the photo.)
 I made it into a recipe binder cover.
 But after I had washed the cover a couple of times (recipe binders get floury), I had a feeling it was shrinking a bit.
And since the binder was wearing out and the cover was shrinking (I think), I decided to remake it into a tablet cover.
It only took a couple of seams to give it the shape of an envelope.
I didn't add any fastening, but I had a piece of white cord that had come off something else. I doubled it, tied a knot in one end, and it slips over the case.
That's all!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What's for supper?, and a muffin recipe

Tonight's dinner menu:

Chicken chili (from our freezer meals)
Salad: romaine hearts and broccoli slaw veggies (something easy to put together from the Giant Tiger produce shelf)
Go-withs: cheese, cottage cheese, mini rice cakes, things like that

Apple Maple Muffins

How do you make Apple Maple Muffins?

Start with last night's dessert: apples baked with a little homemade pancake syrup. Chop the apples small.

Combine dry ingredients for a regular batch of muffins: two cups flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt.  In another bowl or measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup oil, 1 egg, and about 3/4 cup milk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients along with the apples and any of their syrup. Add a little more liquid if needed. Spoon into paper-lined muffin cups and bake about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. They don't have to get too brown.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Quote for the day: don't write clerkly

"But in my fancy, the ambition and contention to write or to speak more clerkly than others, sheweth always a base envious mind, like a scholar full of his school points." ~~ Plutarch's Life of Nicias, translated by Thomas North

Friday, February 19, 2016

The ultimate compliment, Roman-style

"Augustus once, after being given the most commonplace of meals, said to his host as he left, 'I had not realized that I was such a close friend of yours.'" ~~ J. P.V.D. Balsdon, Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome

Thursday, February 18, 2016

When simplicity stops being simple, it's time to back off

Courtenay at The Creek Line House blog poses a question: what's wrong with having a closet that's just, you know, a bunch of hangers on a rod and a shelf above?

Which is really asking several other questions, including the most obvious: why do people have so much stuff that a bunch of hangers on a rod and a shelf above won't suffice? Why do I need to fold my t-shirts a special way and insert them edge-up in the drawer, when I only have a few t-shirts anyway? If I only have a few pairs of shoes, then what does it matter if they're sitting without any special plan on the closet floor?

It reminded me of something else I read recently: How Charlotte Mason Crushed My Idol of Efficiency, by Lexy Sauvé. Lexy writes:
"I was exhausted from trying to keep up with the rigorous systems I had set up for myself and my family. I had believed the lie that righteousness, happiness, and satisfaction could come from submitting to regulations, human precepts, common sense, self-made religion, asceticism, and even severity of the body (Col. 2:20-23)."
Not that there's anything wrong with being organized.

But we are not human-shaped machines. Our lives, in spite of the efficiency experts, are not factories. Our clothes closets, to quote Courtenay's post, do not need to be stores. Neither do our garages, our refrigerators, or our homeschooling bins (although I've used the metaphor myself of "homeschool shopping from the cupboard").

To quote my early inspiration, Peg Bracken, it's okay sometimes to run out of things. Most of us don't live miles from nowhere, stranded for months while the train struggles to get through ice and blizzards; but we still have that mindset that envies the super-plasticked or Mason-jarred dry-foods storage system, or the super-checkoff-able homeschooling spreadsheet plan, or the alphabetized bookshelves. Because we have a dream somehow that the perfect system, and/or unlimited storage space, would make life easier, or at least more photographable.

Orderliness is good. Learning subjects bit by bit is fine. Going through a book chapter by chapter just makes sense. But when the storage system becomes more important than the closet contents, that's when we need to go back, maybe, to a bunch of hangers on a rod and a shelf above.

Texting at the table, Roman-style

"Guests were evidently at liberty during dinner to occupy themselves in ways which in the modern world would not be thought good-mannered. They could, for instance, write or dictate letters at table." ~~ J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Thrift scrounging for fun and profit

Another load to the thrift store, another few minutes inside to scan the dollar racks. These photos look like I'm joining the priesthood or a choir, especially because the camera plays tricks with colours; but the cĺothes do look better in real life.
Grey tank (for a dollar) that started out as a long-sleeved top. The sleeves were too tight and one of them had a stain, so I snipped them off at the shoulder seams. (The seams were serged, so I didn't need to fix any raw edges.)
Purple handmade fake suede coat, half of a suit, marked down from $15 to $1 for the coat and skirt. It had large shoulder pads sewn in between the coat and the lining, but I took those out. I don't want to wear it as a suit, I just needed a coat. Somebody went to a lot of work sewing this, so I was happy to rescue it for a dollar. Or fifty cents, if you count the skirt (which I am probably going to turn into a tote bag).
Closeup of the coat
Purple top, also a dollar. I was looking for a blouse like this, so I was extra-happy to find one on the last-chance rack.
I splurged on this grey cotton vest: it was three dollars. Total for this trip: six dollars.

Wednesday Hodgepodge: This one is strangely apropos

From our Hodgpodge Hostess:  "Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then ski back here tomorrow to link answers with your friends and neighbors. Also, one item of blog business to note-I'm declaring next week Winter Break in the HP, so no Hodgepodge on Wednesday February 24th. I've got some things going on next week and I'm not sure what my computer access will be. Thanks for understanding. We're here this week though, so let's get started--"

1. February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. It lands on the calendar one day after National Do Something for a Grouch Day (February 16) which somehow feels related. Perhaps the 16th inspired the 17th? Tell about a time you performed a random act of kindness or were the recipient of one. Will you make an effort to perform a random act of kindness on the 17th? Share details if you're so inclined, and if you have something specific in mind.

Isn't it difficult to talk about times you yourself might have done something kind? It seems as soon as you think "gee, that was kind of me," it stops being about the thing or the recipient and turns back into being about you. It seems like kindness, on our own part, is kind of like bearing a grudge in reverse: better to forget about it once it's done.

But yes, we have been recipients of kindness many times too, and on our side it's not forgotten.

2.What's the most uplifting or encouraging thing you see happening in the world right now? You may have to dig deep for this one.

A quote from Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge:
"To most of the occupants of the cars the world seemed a dark enough place, but at the sight of that light their heavy hearts lifted a little There were still children in the world, and while there were children, men and women would not abandon the struggle to make safe homes to put them in, and while they so struggled there was hope."
3. Black olives, black currants, black grapes, black beans, blackberries, Oreos...your favorite food the color of night? Your least favorite on the list? 
Actually I like most of those, although not all on the plate (might be fun on Hallowe'en). I am about the only person in my family who likes black olives, so I save my cravings for the occasional times we're at Subway, or someplace that offers feta-olive-sundried tomato pizza.

4. A while back I read (here) a list of twelve things you should do before you turn 50. They were--

travel when you have the chance,

take care of your skin, 
learn a foreign language, 
make exercise a habit, 

leave a toxic situation, 
stop caring what others think about you, 

stop worrying, 

spend time with your grandparents,
 pledge to work less,

learn to cook an amazing dish, 

and seize an opportunity as it arises 

What do you think of the list? What would you add or remove and why? If you're over 50, have you done all 12? If you're not yet 50, have you done any at all? What's on the list that you haven't done, but would like to do? 

I put all those cool pictures in solely to deflect attention from the fact that I have a very short time left to attempt that formidable list of attainments. We're talking weeks. And no, I haven't done more than a few of them.

5. Besides the classic Christmas flicks, what's your favorite film where winter plays a part in the setting?

Snow, not Christmas, and not a disaster movie? How many people out there are going to pick Frozen?

I'll vote for a book instead. Oliver and Amanda and the Big Snow.

6.When did you last feel helpless, and what did you do about it?

Not sure, and not sure.

7. Share a favorite proverb.

On my fridge right now: 
Begin; to begin is half the work. Let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished. ~~ Ausonius. 
I suppose that could also apply to the list of 12-before-50!

Linked from Random Acts of Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Quote for the day: Not by bread alone

"Varro in one of his satires observed that if a man devoted to philosophy even a twelfth part of the time which he spent on trying to get better bread out of his [household] baker...he might find himself a morally good man." ~~ J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Midlife Clothing Crisis

Last summer I posted that I was sick and tired of wearing (mostly donated) black things and jeans. I went to the thrift store and randomly picked out a pile of bright summer clothes.
When the fall weather came, I fell back into the jeans uniform on weekdays, thrifted skirts or dress pants on Sundays. Life goes on no matter what you're wearing, and there are other things to focus on. It's a beauty-obsessed, consumeristic society, and who needs more of that?  Elizabeth Withey wore one dress for a whole year.

But change happens, and what's worked okay in past seasons of life sometimes just runs out of gas. I got rid of some clothes that I didn't like or that were worn out (including both my pairs of jeans), and then realized I had little left, and not much idea of what I did want to wear.  Project 333 says that nobody else really notices what you're wearing, and that may be true, but if your clothes are sending wrong messages to you, that may be enough reason to try something different.  Pondering your own path is not a bad thing, whether it leads you to 33 items, or 40 hangers, or one dress; or just remembering that you do have choices.

I realized that one reason for wearing jeans all the time was that I couldn't think of much else to put on the bottom of me. All my skirts were too long and fancy and...wool. I really like wool skirts. But you can't exactly wear office skirts around the house. I thought about how much I liked my stirrup pants and knits, way back, and a pair of purple suede desert boots...I have no idea why I got rid of those boots, maybe I just wore them out. I now own two pairs of jeggings (not the "excessive" kind, these are closer to pants), and I've thrift-sewed enough skirts and other things that I am really not missing the jeans. I have fewer clothes than I've ever had, but I have more that I can actually wear for the things I actually do.

Yesterday I packed off two final too-long, too-formal skirts, because I didn't need them, even shortened. So in honour of not needing to fix anything else, the only other photo I'm going to add this week is this (thrifted) necklace, which was paid for by selling a bit of the excess/outgrown from our bookshelves. (But that's another story.)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thrift Sewing Week: Life is miscellany

I like chameleon colours--the ones that you can't always put a name to, or that look different depending on the light. The pants I bought the other day are like that: sort of a gray with a greenish-silvery pinstripe, but when I wore them with the taupe tank top, they blended in.  I have a charcoal sweater (in the photo, from Giant Tiger), and for the longest time I thought it had blue in it; it seems to take on blueness from a blue top I wear with it. (Or maybe I just see colours strangely.)

Burgundies and browns can be like that too. I have a burgundy camisole (in the photo, not thrifted), and I know it's supposed to be burgundy because the tag said so. It's a close match for a pair of jeggings that the same store labelled "wine." But I also have a skirt from the thrift store that's sort of dark charcoal-brown, sort of burgundy, maybe what British stores call mole; and it goes, not too badly, with the camisole and with several other things that I wouldn't expect.

I'm not sure what life lesson there is in that. Maybe a repetition of the idea that we work with what's in front of us, not with store labels or what should work. Also, in real life, strangers are not likely to come up to you and ask you to explain why your camisole does or doesn't blend perfectly with your bottom half.
From today's For Better or For Worse comic strip:
"Boy, I'd hate to be perfect."
"How come?"
"'Cause anyone who's perfect can't be anything else!"
As for the skirt: I think it came from the dollar rack, or at least it didn't cost much: it's the sort of thing (strange colour, plain shape) that would get passed over even in the thrift store. I used the 5-Minute Skirt Refashion tutorial at Merrick's Art to slim it down, and then shortened it by a few inches.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quote for the day: Dustballs

"When I was a child...I was often fascinated by the dustballs that collected under my bed...It seemed as if some mysterious force came during the night and littered the floor with those dustballs while I slept. Today I find dustballs in my private world every day. How they got there, I am not sure. But I have to keep ahead of them..."  ~~ Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

"Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. Here we go--"
1. Describe love using all five senses.

I've described my grandparents' house as smelling like pipe tobacco, aging poodle, Pine Sol, and bacon, and tasting like limburger cheese and a box of Bugles, and sounding like... lots of noise and voices, my grandmother whistling and singing, Grandpa's power tools out back of the kitchen, and someone calling "Rummy." Throw in an aging piano...those things aren't love, but love was there.

2. February is Canned Food Month. What's your favorite food that comes straight from a can?

Baked beans?

3. A principal in a UK school recently sent home a letter to parents requesting they (the parents!) dress appropriately when escorting their children to/from school (basically saying please don't wear your pajamas) You can read the letterhere. It's gotten a lot of publicity, both positive and negative. Your thoughts? And do/did you ever make the school run (or hit Starbucks, Walmart, etc) in your pjs?

We were homeschoolers, but even then we started school with clothes on, unless we were having a "wear your pajamas to not-school day." I go to the other extreme: I won't even go out the front door to get the newspaper unless I have something on besides pink bunnies.

4. Crew neck, V-neck, turtleneck, scoop neck...which is most prevalent in your wardrobe?

All about the same, except for crew necks which do strange things to me.

5. I read here recently a list of four things to avoid so you wake up happier. They were late night snacks, hitting the snooze button, social media just before bed/upon waking, checking emails.

Are you guilty of any of these behaviors? Which on that list do you need to work harder at avoiding?

Does evening T.V. with Mr. Fixit (and something to eat) count as misbehaviour?

6. Share something you remember about a house you lived in as a child? Of all the homes you lived in as a child, which did you love best?
We moved several times, but my favourite was the house we lived in for about six years when I was small, where I started school and pestered the older kids on the block. I was a regular Ramona sometimes.

7.Your favorite movie based on a true story?

I'm probably forgetting something really obvious that should be at the top of my list, but for now I'll go with The Marva Collins Story.

Linked from A Sense-able Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

There's glory for you: something to read today

From the Circe Institute blog, a good post for us all to read: Making the Glory of God Known: The Purpose of Any Lesson, by Danny Breed.
"To glorify God is to make much of God and to glorify anything else is to make much of that something else. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God showed Moses Himself by walking in front of him. Thus glory and glorifying is tied to some aspect of showing off how great God is.

"Now that we were somewhat armed with the rudiments of glory, we could ponder the various possibilities of glory in a lesson."