Thursday, December 13, 2012

Last of the falling leaves

Photos from our backyard...enjoying the last of the falling leaves...

  We live with a levee in our front yard and the rain has made it beautiful.  We aren't allowed to plant anything on the levee, so it's often a bleak view.  But now, after the rain, it's so green and pretty.  The last leaves on the trees and grapevines are so beautiful and somehow wistful.  I feel strengthened by the assurance of the changing seasons.  I love the changing view from our back door window...oddly, it's the best view available in the house.

If you can, please pray for Katherine.  The writer of this blog teaches me so much about faith.  I can't get my mind around how strong and true she is.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yarn Along 12/12/12

Joining Ginny's lovely blog today...

My son, Ian, visited recently and suggested that I knit him something for Christmas this year.  I enjoyed showing him the Ravelry site and looking for fun and quirky patterns.  One of the patterns he selected was the Jayne hat, inspired by the Firefly series.  As a beginner knitter, I find it liberating to create a hat where imperfections are celebrated, if not required (smile).  It's my first time knitting double-stranded, which I thought would be challenging but was actually nice and easy.  Next up is adding the bright red ear flaps and then the pom pom.

Joaquin loves to pretend he's a firefighter and he enjoys wearing hats made by "Mama" when it's cold so I have high hopes that he will love this hat.  I wasn't familiar with the FPdc stitch, so enjoyed/hated learning a new stitch.  Took a few tries to figure it out, but it's coming along now--thank goodness for YouTube and the giving souls who post videos on how to knit/crochet!  Should be done in time for Christmas.

I am reading Soul Surfer and so far it's a quick, easy read.  Bethany is sweet and tough, an endearing combination.  I feel discomfort when I read of the accident details because I feel a squeamish sort of pleasure due to a creepy sense of curiosity of horrific events.  I don't like that about myself, I guess it's just part of being human.  The peek into Bethany's reality is uplifting; she is very matter-of-fact about her faith, which I admire.

I do enjoy reading through the links on Ginny's Yarn Along and seeing all the inspiring projects.  Hope you join in!

The fudge pictured is our 2nd best-selling flavor "Chocolate Caramel Brownie".  It's my own recipe, created for my brownie-loving husband.  It's available to ship for the holidays in a 1-pound gift box or as part of our Best Sellers variety box, featuring 5 other flavors.  If you haven't finished your holiday shopping, please take a peek at our store's web site and consider ordering some delicious fudge for your family or friends.   Thank you :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

After the rain...

After the rain, the leaves are down and the air is clean.  There are puddles and mud everywhere, which delights Joaquin.  We set out for our usual walk around the grape fields, but turned back after a bit because our boots got heavier and heavier with mud.

The photos of the falling down barns are not due to the storm.  They are projects for our landlord and we suspect will keep him busy for quite some time.  Nice for us because he often brings his 3 children with him and Joaquin loves to play with them.  They are nice kids; I enjoy having them around.  Until we finish up with our foster licensing tasks (build a fence, organize our "moving" boxes that are not yet un-packed, child-proof the house, get the well water tested, and finish up with our training classes), Joaquin is all alone here on the farm.  We setup play dates for him, but it's not the same as having kids around to play with day after day.  Soon...we hope to have at least 2 more children.

In cooking news, I tried this recipe for Korma and it was easy, delicious, and healthy!  Win, win, win!  I made salad, using homemade Grapefruit/Orange Ginger Marmalade in the dressing.  We really liked it.  Aren't we lucky to cook in an era of easily found internet recipes?

From my reading "The Prideful Soul's Guide to Humility" by Thomas Jones and Michael Fontenot (to work to overcome chronic peevishness (see previous blog entry)):
Humility is the way to God's heart.  God doesn't receive us on the basis of our performance.  He receives us on the basis of heart, and no quality of heart is more important to him than humility.  Jesus said 'Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'  Humility is the fundamental of all fundamentals, the cardinal virtue, the only root from which the graces can grow.  Humility is the most crucial attitude we can ever have.  (This is bad news for me for I am terribly proud and it pollutes my whole life.)
The reward for the quest for humility is found in the fact that it draws us ever closer to the heart of God -- the very place for which we were made. 
Pride is at the heart of all sin.  Pride is wasteful.  Pride is as wicked as it gets. 
Chapter 1 Question:  What evidence is there that you take seriously the sin of pride in your life.
         My answer:  None; except the purchase of books on humility that are, until now, un-read.

I once wondered aloud to myself while driving down the freeway one late and stormy night:  "Hey Kerri, do you think maybe pride is at the root of all your problems?"  BAM!  A log flew out of the truck on the road in front of me and shattered my windshield.  I took that as a sign that God wanted me to know that I was onto something.

This concept that our reward for successfully creating an attitude of humility is that we will live closer to God--incredibly helpful to me and provides the first real hope I have felt in a long time.  I have been very cut off from God even though I talk to him every day, throughout the day.  I have felt completely without any hope that I would have any chance of getting into heaven.  I mean this with all my heart, I'm not being coy.  I just have felt that I am too unwilling to make the changes that are needed to allow my heart to grow into the kind of heart that would be chosen.  I know that it isn't our deeds that will make that happen, it's our hearts.  And mine has been cold, and without hope for a long while (much to the devil's utter delight, I am sure.)  I am too much in love with pride and worldly things, take too much pleasure in being sarcastic and judgemental, and too unwilling to open my heart up to the things that are not of this physical world.  And frankly, too afraid to let go.  I cling, cling, cling to thoughts and things that are not pleasing to God.  I've made little effort to change this, and each time I get started, I just get distracted.  I've also felt that my efforts are just futile.  Am I alone in this?

Focusing on humility might just provide a pathway to success.  I am still very afraid, but now have some hope.  Hope feels really good.  A nice change.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Peevishness versus Gratitude

Why do I choose petulance and peevishness over gratitude?  Last night, I read Katie's blog and felt so sad for all those hungry people.  I felt defeated and terribly sad.  Sad for myself and my family because I have been unable (unwilling?) to feel happy and grateful when I am so blessed.  What am I afraid of?  My thoughts and actions are making a horrible noise to our Creator.  Praying about it and wishing it would go away has been going on for a couple of years and hasn't yet worked.  Hmmm.  Perhaps I actually have to DO SOMETHING?  Disgusted with myself for returning again and again to my list of grievances today, knowing I am offending God, I desperately decided that I would take pictures of the abundance and beauty that fills my days and I would start a daily practice of READING and writing in a journal until I break this ugly cycle of petulance and create a grateful heart.

The photos are of bounty from our garden, raspberries that were on sale, our goat "Mocha" who entertains us daily along with her sister, "Latte" (not pictured), and the beauty around our home.  I'm off to start reading and writing...wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yarn Along - Nov 14th

 Joining Ginny's Yarn Along today.  If you don't yet follow her blog, you're in for a treat--it's so visually enjoyable and the content is inspiring and heart-warming and real.  Very special.
I have a knit project going and a crochet project going.  Here they are:

I am knitting the outfit for our newly-born niece, Anna.  I wanted a garter stitch pattern to emphasize the bumpiness of the yarn and I am pleased with the results so far.  I am also starting a a hat to match.

I am crocheting the fingerless mitts as a birthday gift for Tressa (a link to her band), a dear friend.  We have been friends since 8th grade and to know Tressa is to love Tressa.  The mitts are quick and easy.  I like the way they are turning out and I got to learn a new crochet stitch that I didn't yet know about:  Chainless Foundation HDC.  I like it so much better than a chain foundation and hope to incorporate it into a blanket I have planned.  I didn't know such a stitch existed!  Yay!

I am reading the new Waldorf curriculum I purchased for home-schooling Joaquin.  I find it to be very helpful, although I must admit:  at first, I was frustrated not to have a set of completed lesson plans to get me started.  But after reading most of the book and trying things out, I have to say that she is absolutely correct in her approach of not providing that level of detail for an entire year.  I would have loved to have, perhaps, 3 or 4 completed lesson plans for each season as a way to help me get started more quickly.  One of the superlative features of the Waldorf curriculum is that it is a living practice and it really comes ALIVE in our home and has brought a lot of warmth and joy to each day so far.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Autumn Leaves and Crafting

Is someone hiding in this pile of leaves?


The first photo is the sunrise from our living room window.

Joaquin has learned the delight of playing in piles of autumn leaves.  I love our life!

Joining Frontier Dreams today:  I have started on another shirt for Joaquin, same as this one, but using an up-cycled thrift shop shirt and leggings for the fabric.  I am making these Romance Fingerless Mitts for a dear friend's birthday gift.  So far, quick and easy (except for me misreading the pattern and having a "do over").  I want to make a pair for me and my mom too.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finished Objects Friday

Joining Tami at Finished Object Friday...I sewed a blue shirt for Joaquin.  Plus, I thought I'd show you the lion costume I sewed for him (with a crocheted hat) as I didn't get it posted last week.

With Joaquin's big, beautiful eyes shining out at you from the first photo, it's a bit challenging to notice the shirt--isn't it?  I always get distracted looking at his eyes.  I do love the soft, cozy look of that shirt, though.  I used a pattern from April 2011 Ottobre Designs sewn in size 110.  I have admired their designs for a couple of years now and eagerly await each new volume.  But this was my first attempt at actually SEWING something.  I'm not alone in being intimidated about sewing with double-knit fabric, am I?  It doesn't stay put the way cotton does.  I used fabric from an Old Navy men's shirt that I bought at a thrift shop.  I like up-cycling because it's creative and the fabric is way less expensive than buying by the yard.  Another bonus was that I didn't have to hem it or sew in the cuffs--I just cut the pattern out to make use of the hem and cuffs that were already there.  I was too afraid to try machine-stitching the collar because I just knew it would look messy and terrible; so I had the idea of using the hand-stitched look from Alabama Chanin.  I learned of them from this lovely blog (she makes the most beautiful quilts and sells them in her etsy shop and donates the profits).  The photo of the stitch sampler is from the book.  The best part about the blue shirt is that Joaquin likes it!

The lion costume was from Butterick pattern 3238.  Joaquin and I picked out the fabric together.  Here is the ravelry project for the hat.  It was a quick and easy crochet project and he looked really cute in it.  He really wanted to be a lion this year, so I was really happy to make something that he liked.  The best part for him was the TAIL.  He loved that tail.

Also joining Wisdom Begins in WONDER!  Check out the really great, inspiring yarn!