Tuesday, May 31, 2016

From the archives: Blow Off Some Steam

First posted April 2013, as part of the Hidden Art of Homemaking discussion at Ordo Amoris.
I'd be tender - I'd be gentle and awful sentimental
Regarding Love and Art.
I'd be friends with the sparrows ... and the boys who shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.

"A Christian...should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively...we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation." ~~Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of HomemakingChapter 2 

"For too many people...the creative muscles and joints (if I can use that picture!) have stiffened with disuse."
"We are all in danger of thinking, "Some day I shall be fulfilled. Some day I shall have the courage to start another life which will develop my talent", without ever considering the very practical use of that talent today in a way which will enrich other people's lives, develop the talent, and express the fact of being a creative creature."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Now you see him

Now you don't.

Saturday Yard Saling

We went to a couple of street sales today. Mr. Fixit found a multiband radio from about 1969, that (according to the seller) "hums but doesn't play music." I found a makeup/hairstyling cape for Lydia, and two white pillowcases that I'll probably make into handkerchiefs.
I actually found this purse a couple of weeks ago. It went to Waxahachie with me.
Circle scarf printed with feathers
And a necklace!

So...we counted it a pretty good morning.

In which the sewing corner disappears

At least temporarily. We wanted to "open up" the dining room a bit more. (And stop bumping the table every time we opened the door.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Books are for reading, necklaces are for wearing, pie plants are for pies

“There was pie plant in the garden; she must make a couple of pies.” ~~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, The First Four Years
A useful mantra for the frugal is "what do I have that I can use, instead of thinking that I need something else?" As the DHM famously put it, "what's in your hand?" Sometimes we forget that one reason for decluttering is so we can appreciate the things we do keep.

What books do you already have on the shelf? Have you read the ones you downloaded to your Kindle app last year, or the year before? I just finished one of my long-time Kindle-sitters, at 10,000 feet, because the crossword puzzle book I'd brought was excruciatingly boring, and the Wi-Fi wasn't free. Of course looking out the window at the clouds was free, but I wasn't right by a window, and where I could sort of see out, people kept closing the shades. So, the downloaded books came in handy.

What do you have in your jewelry box? I have a necklace with a green pendant, that Mr. Fixit gave me some time ago. I cleaned out my box this spring, got rid of the non-keepers, put a few special but unwearable things away, and that left the things I liked but hadn't been wearing, like the green necklace. So now it's where I can grab it easily and put it on.

What do you have hidden in your china cupboard? A pottery dish? Candles? Fancy bowls? We are paper napkin users, by and large, although we do have a stash of homemade cloth napkins we use as well. Sometimes the stack of paper napkins sits right on the kitchen table, which is not attractive. Sometimes they sit in a basket, which is better. Today I pulled out a vintage tin box my dad gave me (like this one), and slipped the napkins into that, just for a change. Better to use things than to hide them away.

What's in the closet? What are your three favourite shirts or dresses or hats or shoes to wear in the summer? Summer is short, at least where we live, so wear them lots and enjoy them. (Like Christmas things that you see or eat or sing one month out of the year: put the other things aside and make the most of the holidays.)

I just finished one other book, one that the Apprentice loaned me. In the story, one character has a special celebration, and two other people decide to commemorate it by giving him a baseball card of his favourite player ever, Yutaka Enatsu. This is not easy (especially in pre-Internet days), because the man already owns most of the early Enatsu cards, but for reasons too complicated to explain here, he lives somewhat in the past and would be very sad if he found out that Enatsu was later traded to another team. The searchers do, through a few strokes of luck, come up with a card that fits the bill, and the giving and the receiving is everything they hoped for. One little coloured piece of cardboard, but chosen with love, and treasured.

Enjoy your small treasures for the smiles they give.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dessert's in the Toaster Oven

 When I got to Texas, it was cool and cloudy like it was here last week.

When I left, it was warm and sunny. Like it is here this week.  It's 26 Celsius right now, which is 79 degrees Fahrenheit. So yes, we do think "time to turn on the air conditioning" and "don't use the oven today." Even in the Great White North, where the trees were slow to leaf out this year and they are just now dropping their flowers and making allergy sufferers miserable.

Anyway, we have lots of rhubarb, and I wanted to use it, but it's hot out. So, pie in the toaster oven. I used a square pan so it would fit, and a crumb topping because I don't do double crusts. (Allow some extra baking time because it's "deep dish.")

A is for Airplane (Deep in the Heart of AO Conference, May 2016)

A is for airplanes, airports, and Atlanta, where (both times) I just barely made the connecting flight to and from Dallas. The airplanes were fun; the airports, not so much.
B is for bags: two of them.

C is for comfortable shoes, for which I was grateful.
D is for drizzle, which is what we had Thursday. Also for Dawn doing drill (Swedish).

E is for enthusiasm.
F is for fangirls, and not the kind you'd think.

G is for gravy and biscuits. Also for group photos.

H is for hayride and campfire. Also harmony, four-part.

I is for Instagram, where you can see people's #heartofao2016 photos.

J is for joyfully hugging hello.

K is for keys.

L is for long walks and lineups, but you don't mind those when there's interesting company.

M is for music, and Megan Hoyt's new book about it, which I didn't manage to get a copy of at the conference, but it's on the list.

N is for nature study, sometimes unintended.
O is for organized.

P is for PrimePeriwinkle, who is blogging her way through the conference. Also Prufrock...no, Plutarch...no, Prufrock, I meant Prufrock.

Q is for quiet. It wasn't, much, except for early in the morning and late at night.
R is for ready for business.
S is for swag bags, over 200 of them, filled by our crack team of helpers including one under the age of three.

T is for Texas, as in, deep in the heart of.
U is for umbrellas, which Kathy thoughtfully brought along for the drizzle downpour.

V is for van service, which is how I got home from the Toronto airport.
W, X is for WaXahachie. Also for Wristbands.

Y is for y'all.

Z is for Ziploc bags, to keep your socks and everything else organized.

Around the Treehouse (photos)

Out the back window. The darker patches are where we had sod put in.
Living room, post-couch. (A spring in the back flew apart last week, so we turfed the couch and moved the love seat into its place.)
Antique-market find from yesterday.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

From the archives: If you have to ask the price...

First posted June 2008. Lydia was finishing the first grade.

There is a store near us that sells rocks. It also carries jewelery, butterflies in cases, and ceramic gifts; but mostly rocks. Some small, polished stones for fifty cents; some medium-sized things that would look good on a coffee table; some large and expensive pieces that you'd really have to love to pay that kind of money for. 

They have one particularly large and beautiful piece called an Amethyst Cathedral. It really does resemble a cathedral: it's quite tall and pointed at the top, and it opens from the front (like the one in the photo there) into the most beautiful interior.

It's priced at $1,290 Canadian.

The young Squirrelings eyed it appreciatively. One noted, "That's a lot of money."

"How much money?" asked the youngest.

"One thousand, two hundred and ninety dollars."

The youngest Squirreling chewed on that for a moment and then added solemnly, "And I guess there'd be tax on that, too."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Quote for the day: For every fact is also a revelation

"Two things must be done by the modern nature writer who would first understand the animal world and then share his discovery with others. He must collect his facts, at first hand if possible, and then he must interpret the facts as they appeal to his own head and heart in the light of all the circumstances that surround them. The child will be content with his animal story, but the man will surely ask the why and the how of every fact of animal life that particularly appeals to him. For every fact is also a revelation, and is chiefly interesting, not for itself, but for the law or the life which lies behind it and which it in some way expresses. An apple falling to the ground was a common enough fact,—so common that it had no interest until some one thought about it and found the great law that grips alike the falling apple and the falling star." ~~ William J. Long, A Little Brother to the Bear

Thursday, May 12, 2016

From the blogworld: an artist talks about colour schemes

Ontario textile artist Kathy White discusses her explorations in colour theory. Have a look at her work to see how words like "complementary colour scheme exercise" become a piece of fibre art.

From the blogworld: how to be a smashing success at thrifting

This article is a few years old, but it's still pretty good. Like at least one of the commenters, though, I disagree with the statement that "real" thrift shops don't sort clothes for rips etc.  When the girls and I volunteered at the MCC store for two years, that's exactly what the volunteers and staff did do. They didn't catch everything, and I've bought things myself that turned out to have non-obvious stains or whatever, but they did give everything at least a once-over.

Planet June takes us nature-walking in England

Planet June, usually a crochet blog, veers off today with some great close-up photos of English wild critters, including a red squirrel and a robin, which is not the same kind of robin that tries, every year, to build a nest somewhere inconvenient like our porch.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Quote for the day: Eliot on Education

"A high average of general education is perhaps less necessary for a civil society than is a respect for learning." ~~ T.S. Eliot

Friday, May 06, 2016

Quote for the day: progress and the planet

"To organize society merely on the principle of private profit leads to a rejection of nature...utilitarian 'progress,' so closely connected with the ideology of liberalism, breaks the contract of eternal society, despoiling the soil itself. 'For a long enough time we have believed in nothing but the values arising in a mechanised, commercialised, urbanised way of life: it would be as well for us to face the permanent conditions upon which God allows us to live upon this planet.'"  ~~ Russell Kirk, Eliot and His Age; quote from Eliot's The Idea of a Christian Society (1939).

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Quote for the day: T.S. Eliot on politics and atheism

"The more a political creed usurps the place of religious creed, the more risk of its becoming merely a faรงade. The popular result of ignoring religion seems to be merely that the populace transfer their religious emotions to political theories. Few people are sufficiently civilized to afford atheism."  ~~ T.S. Eliot, "Mr. Barnes and Mr. Rowse," The Criterion, July 1929

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Quote for the day: Boring ourselves to death

"[Psychologist W.H.R. Rivers concludes that the Melanesians] are dying from pure boredom. When every theatre has been replaced by 100 cinemas, when every musical instrument has been replaced by 100 gramophones, when every horse has been replaced by 100 cheaper motor-cars, when electrical ingenuity has made it possible for every child to hear its bedtime stories from a loudspeaker...it will not be surprising if the population of the entire civilised world rapidly follows the fate of the Melanesians.'"

~~ Eliot's memorial to Marie Lloyd, 1923 (included in Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot)

Fewer but better, or just fewer? (Mid-spring musings on clothes and thrift stores)

I ran into one twist when I got myself into Project 333, and faced the multiple motivations of wanting to think both less and more about clothes. That was the simple fact of being disappointed with what's in the stores (at least those I can afford), including the few things I did buy new (on sale, but still new) over the past year.

The website photographs are lovely; the real life garments are not. The waistband of one pair of my jeggings (four months old, wash on gentle, hang to dry) has stretched so they don't jeg anymore. The wear-with-everything blouse never fit quite the way I wanted, and it slips maddeningly out of every waistband. I can hardly believe that, like Barbie, I'm sending another bag of stuff to the thrift store. (Hers is little, mine is big.)
At least my irritation with poor quality makes shopping choices easy: "only if I have to."

That brings up the old cliche about the advantage of thrift shops: that, ironically, what you're going to find there is often better quality.  Like any cliche, it's not always true: any local shop is going to have a majority of clothes coming from local stores, and probably not the higher-end ones either. But if you choose carefully, the not-rayon t-shirts are there, and the wool sweaters, and so on; and that's partly because of that other old cliche about used clothes, that the ones that make it to the thrift store are the ones that held up long enough to become used clothes.

I set my change-of-season parameters for the Victoria Day weekend, about three weeks from now; where we live, that's when we start thinking "summer." Gardens go in, sandals come out. I pulled out my summer things to have a look and do a rough Project 333 count  (at the same time as I was disgustedly filling the thrift store bag), and this is what I found: I am going to have No Problem At All sticking to 33 items this time, because that's about all I do have. And because every time I walk past the rayon t-shirts on the way to the grocery section, I increase my mental font another size on why I don't want to waste money on that stuff.

Which for me leaves, more or less, the thrift store.

Your thoughts?

What's for supper?

Tonight's dinner menu:

Frozen lasagna
Spaghetti squash
Frozen peas

Pear muffins cake (like apple muffins cake but made, obviously, with pears)