Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chatting with Patrice {holding babies, and spring cleaning...}

Everyday Ruralty

HI there Patrice! I'm back for a wee blether with you today.  Just a quick one, mind you, because I have things to do, which are calling out for me to do! Crochet may just be part of it - a little spontaneous, spring-inspired, quick hook up. More of that in another blog post!

Onto our chat!

  1. Have you been watching the Olympics?

Not really.  I have no TV, so I figure if you can't watch it when it is on TV, you end up seeing the results online and it's not so exciting. 

I HAVE watched a bit of the curling.  Did you know it's pretty much only Scottish people in the UK curling team?  That alone makes it worth watching. I mean, who doesn't love to hear Scottish people shouting random, unintelligible words to other team members, whilst others scrub away at the ice to make the stone go where it should? Fascinating, and oddly gripping, stuff! 

I love ice dancing/figure skating, but just have not got around to even finding it to watch online.  

2.  Does the grey winter affect your moods?

I don't THINK so?? I know that having a warm, spring day makes me happy, but I am pretty certain that I am not more depressed in the winter.   I am generally quite a "cup half full" person, so something like the weather is not a negative thing for me.  In fact, I like being snuggled cosy, indoors, hearing the wind and rain outside.  I love that it is dark in the morning, and I turn on my light to do my devotions, in a quiet house, with just the light of the lamp.

I AM looking forward to spring, though, and warmer weather. I LOVE spring, and am so pleased to see flowers appearing. Now what we DON'T need is for snow to now appear, after staying away ALL winter!!!

3.  When was the last time you held a baby?

That's a funny question! About 5 minutes ago? I hold a baby A LOT every day.  I love it, VERY much.  My little Tabitha is such a smiley, happy blessing.  When I think back to the bleed I had, and how her life seemed to be only just held by a thread, I am so blessed to hold her at all.  It could have all been so very different.

4.  Do you do a thorough spring cleaning each year?

Erm..... no.

5.  Please tell Wendell a bedtime story. He asked. I said I'd ask you.If you don't feel 
that creative, tell him a favourite book you think he might like. please:)

I think you would love one of my daughter's favourite books.  It was written by a girl who was home-schooled, and it's called "Summer of Suspense".  It's a story of adventure and mystery, all including a horse called Arrow.  Any girl (or horse) would love it, especially aged from about 10 onwards.

Nice to have a chat with you, as ever, Patrice! 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tapestry on Tuesday {all about reading lists & a book review thrown in for free!}

Today, I want to tell you a little bit about the weekly reading lists on Tapestry of Grace, and how they work.

First, I would say this -  the books have been carefully chosen to grasp the interest and abilities of the age of child they are directed at.  Most of them are pretty easy to get your hands on, and it is only very rarely that I have not been able to find them in the UK. They are often award-winning books, particularly the picture books they choose for literature selections for grammar stage children.  I will carry on reviewing various ones that are particularly wonderful as I work through the next 4 years.

Every week there is a reading list that looks something like the one below.

As you can see, there are 5 main areas covered in the reading list.  History Core, History In-Depth, Literature, Arts & Activities and Worldview.  There are various sub-categories, but I will only cover the ones I have actually used.

Tapestry of Grace curriculum has its roots in history, so needless to say the reading list majors on that area.  They choose books that not cover history simply, but in  many interesting ways, with lots of fascinating information and lovely illustrations.  There are two categories for History - Core, and In-Depth.  The core books are ones that I always try and get my hands on, as they are the meat of the week's studies.  The In-Depth ones are simply adding and expanding on the information found in the core books.

I am going to give you Week 4 as an example, as we have just recently finished that particular week, and it includes the book I will review below!

As I mentioned in a previous post about TOG, these lists are broken up by learning level, and by topic.

The first category is History Core.  These books cover what TOG calls the "main message" for that week.  You will see that this week covers Creation through to Noah. For the Lower Grammar students the main book is the BIBLE!  Being a Christian curriculum, they use the Bible wherever they can, as an important book to be referred to.  You will see that the Upper Grammar level also has a Bible Atlas and Companion to use. There are often great books like this which add in extra geographical or cultural information which may help the child to understand an era more fully.  Joshua as a lovely one that he is using, for Dialectic.  These Bible Atlases help to picture the travels of these Old Testament characters, and brings a deeper understanding of how they lived their lives.

Then, there is the History In-Depth.  These books tend to take up one or two elements from the history that week and take a deeper look at them - the  "secondary message".  You can see Lower Grammar focuses more on creation, and Upper Grammar on Noah.  The book you see listed for Dialectic is the one I will review in a moment.  A brilliant book!

It's worth noting that for Dialectic students, their Thinking and Accountability questions will draw from BOTH of the history categories, so it's worth trying to track down all these books, if possible.  If you don't, you may need to tweak what you expect your student to answer that week.

Following this, there is often a suggested read-aloud. This is not essential to use, ut will enrich the topic studied that week.  The book you see for this week is the one I reviewed recently.  We use it through Year 1.  That often happens with books - they are used more than one week.

Next, we have the literature selection for that week.  Again, Lower Grammar were focussing on Creation, Upper Grammar on Noah.  I will tell you a funny story about this. Beth read her Upper Grammar selection and came to me saying "Mum, they have got the details of this ALL wrong!"  When she hit her Student Activity Page she realised she was to compare and contrast the three accounts of the story of Noah, deciding which things were covered in the reading selection, and which
h things were not, or which things were not true! THEN she realised why she was asked to read it! It was great to see that she knew the true account and what was error. Needless to say she found the activity page a breeze!

As you see, Joshua's selection included something about "magic". TOG is really great at having children read about subjects, and then get them to place them alongside what the scriptures say and analyse why they are right or wrong in God's eyes. You cannot escape the fact that many eras of history include people who were involved in wrong behaviour and acts, so the older children, in particular, analyse these topics against the through of the Bible.

The next category is "Art/Acitivities".  If there is anything relevant for that week, to aid you in doing these kind of topics with your children, it will be listed here.  This particular week there was nothing to list, but I will show you one that does have them.

The picture above shows Week 5.

Many of the books in that category are also multi-week books that are used over and over again, filled with great idea of fun activities to do, relevant to that week and period of history.

So, back to week 4 again, and the final category - Worldview.  This topic allows the child to see Bible and Church History, as well as how other religions developed throughout history - looking at them alongside the truth of God's Word, analysing why they are wrong, and being aware of how these religions operate today and how we can pray for countries where these religions are prominent.

You will see for this week that there are Bible passages included, as I mentioned earlier.  I sometimes pop it on as an Audio Bible, and they listen to it as a "read aloud", whilst they are doing jobs in the kitchen, or colouring in the dining room.  Similarly, there are often books on the way thought the four years that you can find as Audio books.  It's a great way for a reluctant reader to be helped out with their reading for that week, or if you have a busy week with driving around that you have to do, they can listen to their literature assignments as you travel! It's worth keeping an eye out for Audio books as an option.

Finally, I wanted to share another book with you.

This is a book that is listed for Dialectic level students. However, it would be a lovely "table book" for the whole family, or as a read aloud.

This book could be used for Bible studies, or for science.  It picks up on various topics throughout the Bible covering the topic of the natural world. They range from rain to fire, lions to locusts earthquakes to lightning.  

For each topic, it first of all gives a page of factual and fascinating information about the topic covered.  The second page of the double page spread tells us something about how we should look upon it in light of the scriptures, and how God views it.  

The book also includes beautiful photography to tie in with each subject.

I love how it weaves facts in with God's Word, highlighting God's greatness and power.  There is also a focal scripture passage to show us where scripture speaks of the subject.

Again, it's a lovely book selected y the writers of the curriculum, which allows the children to learn in a factual, yet striking and captivating, way.

The book is published by New Leaf Press, and available from many online retailers, including Amazon.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Crochet Creations {Crocodile Shoes}

Ok, so as much a song may spring to mind, I didn't actually make shoes. I made the most adorable little bootees for Tabitha.  They use a stitch called the "crocodile stitch", as it looks like little scales, I guess?

They were my first ever project that required a bit more concentration and savvy, as well as learning some new stitches.  Due to those factors, the first bootie took quite a it longer than the second one. Once I got the hang of the stitches, the second one was WAY quicker. It was SO worth it! It was the first "3-dimensional" item I had made, and I felt such a sense of achievement!

This be them.  SO adorable!! 

I happened to have the perfect buttons to match them, too.

Here's my adorable model wearing them! 

I made these weeks ago, but just hadn't got to sharing about them.  

I learnt how to do FPHDC and BPHDC.  We would call it FPHTC and BPHTC, though. 

"Front post half treble" and "Back post half treble".  Instead of putting your hook under the loop at the top of the stitch, you go around the post underneath - either front to back, or back to front. It took a it of googling and sussing out, but I got there in the end!

So, to make life easier for any who don't know how, and to save you searching, here are some videos!

This one is for Front Post.

This one is for Back Post.

I chose one American, one Australian, just to keep the whole thing multi-cultural!

There was another step that was needed in the pattern, but the pattern included some instructions for that step, and I found it fairly simple.

By doing the FPDC you get the little ribbed effect at the front of the bootie!

The adorable thing is this - the pattern includes a children's and an ADULTS size of this pattern! I want to make both, but have not quite got around to doing it yet, as I have been working on a couple of other projects first. I will, though, and I will share once I do!

You can find the pattern here, and I will share it on the crochet page, too. This pattern is NOT free, but worth the purchase, if you think you will have people you will gift them to.

Right, I have had a busy day, so I am off to work on my WIP. (Work in progress)  By next week I hope to share it, and share about a skill that will be new to me! BLOCKING!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Marriage and love {learning from cookies!}

Today, I decided that it would be a special thing to get our bookwork done quickly, and do some fun things in the afternoon.

I decided that making cookies, and icing them, as well as making some button heart cards, would be perfect.

It's Valentine's day.  That day which has become one of commercialisation and women with high expectations of husbands. We don't "do" Valentine's Day, but it's always good to make love an important thing. It should, of course, be important EVERY day, but thinking about it particularly was good.

So, we made cookies.

I tell you what, it challenged me on many fronts, but that's another story.

The cookies came out the oven, and they were just not how I envisioned them. I did everything the recipe said, but some had spread, and looked not entirely like a heart. Some were overcooked in my "not quite right" oven. Then, I didn't make enough icing, so I had to tell the children to be more sparing than I would have liked. I did a demo for them, to show them how to do the outline, then the flooding. Mine was not even quite how I wanted it to be. I stood by, desperately wanting to decorate them myself, to make them look "nicer", but realised that I can't do everything all the time,  and my way is not always best! Then, of course, I can't even eat the cookies. Doing Whole30, I am not allowed any sugar.  The amount of times I went to lick my sugary finger, and had to stop myself!!

(a shield, a cross on a hill, a tiger?? and 3 hearts!)

However, they enjoyed the experience, and as much as there was nothing perfect about them, they appreciated them, ate them and loved them!  Seeing their pleasure was enough for me!

As I was clearing up the whirlwind-type mess resulting from our baking, I got thinking about how making my cookies was like a marriage. 

Marriage, and love, is not all about perfection.  It's not all about everything looking pretty and perfect.  It's not everything turning out how you expected, or about there never being any "messy" moments.

What it IS, is thinking about others before yourself.  About giving of time, effort and emotions for the benefit of another.  It is about putting in the right "ingredients", mixing them up the way you know you should, and when the results are not how you expected, still carrying on. Still putting in the effort to make it the way it should be. Persevering despite the imperfections. Persevering BECAUSE of the imperfections.  Still pouring in love and effort, when things don't look so "pretty".  It's about being unselfish.  Doing things purely for the benefit of another, not for your own.  It's about not giving up when things don't go well. It's about being willing to set aside doing things "your way", and having the humility to accept that your husband's way is right, because you want to please him, more than you want to get your own way. It's about accepting failings and loving what you have regardless, because it's worth it.  It's about finishing well.  

Today, and every day, I need to have a marriage like that.  I need to love selflessly.  I need to persevere through the moments that don't go quite how I expected.  I need to keep adding "beauty" to our marriage, by loving as God wants me to.  I need to give, and give, and give, not for my own gain or benefit. I need to keep on, until "death do us part".  I need to enjoy the pleasures of simply being in the marriage, not being bogged down by the negatives. Promoting the positives.

I love my husband. We don't have everything going perfectly all the time, but we DO love each other.  Deeply.  We are thankful for every blessing upon our marriage and our family.  We will keep, by God's grace alone, working at it every day.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Glorifying God in weakness {how to be strong}

There are days when I feel weak.

So very weak.

Disturbed sleep with a crying 3 year old, then baby feeding more than normal in the night.

Challenging children.

Lots of questions with school.

A broken keyboard on my laptop, making typing HARD work.

Looking around the house and just seeing constant work to be done.

I'm tired.

I have a headache.

I feel weak, physically and emotionally...

But then, I remember.  I remember what Paul shared in the book of Corinthians.

"when I am weak, then am I strong"

When we recognise our own weakness, we more readily see God's strength.  When we are nothing - when we hit rock bottom - then we are at a place where God can truly work.  All of Him, none of us.

Those preceding verses sum it all up.

God whispers to us

"My grace is sufficient for thee"

Despite our weakness, and our imperfections, God's grace IS sufficient. It is all we need to get us through the most trying of times. When we are weak, then we are strong - strong in Christ and Christ alone.

The following verses take it to a whole striking, new level.

Paul GLORIES in his infirmities.

He takes PLEASURE in

"infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses "

That pretty much sums up a tough day in motherhood.

We need to pleasure and take glory in it, purely because we are only persevering in Christ's strength and grace.

How we should glory!

How we should take pleasure!


All our struggles, difficulties and trials are in HIS hands.  He will give us the strength to get through the day. The only strength we need is God's strength, and it IS sufficient.

Why would we want to feel strong, and take our eyes off God? I would rather feel weak and cast myself fully on Him to take my burden and make me feel HIS strength.

The alternative is to be like King Uzziah,

"as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper."

"But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction:"
(II Chronicles 26)

Weakness casts us on God - it makes us seek Him in prayer. It makes us rely on His ways and His wisdom.  It makes us cry to Him and takes our eyes off ourselves

When Uzziah began to rely on His own strength, he faced destruction.

I'd rather have weakness any day, than to come to that place where I think I can do it alone, and end up defeated and torn down.

So, I shall carry on in my day, keeping my eyes ever upward. Thanking God for my weakness, for in it I see Him, and rely on Him fully for the strength that I need.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Keep yourselves in the love of Christ {every marriage needs work}

Yesterday, the preacher spoke from the book of Jude. Included in the reading was a verse that my parents shared with Robert and I, as we began our married life.

"Keep yourselves in the love of God"
Jude verse 22

It was a great reminder to me of what matters most in our lives.

Keeping God's love central.

It's what should unite every married couple, who loves the Lord. God's love for us, and our love for God.

If love is central, everything else will work itself out. There is a reason why Jesus told us that love is the most important thing.  It's because, well, it IS!!!

Loving each other as God loves us - sacrificially, totally, unselfishly, gently, passionately, intensely, entirely.  If we are immersed in God, and His love, our desire TO love will be far greater and more evident. It will exude from every part of our being, if we constantly keep His love for us, foremost in our minds.

Do you see, though, the verb here?


Love, like anything else that is worth having, requires EFFORT.  It will not do to just "feel" love, at the beginning of a marriage, and then hope it lingers without any work. We need to KEEP God, and His love for us, central in our lives. We need to make the effort to soak up God's Word daily. To commune with Him. To experience His love for us, by having a relationship with Him. To remember His words and His teaching when things are not going well.  To keep His love as the binding force when things are shaky. To keep His love in our hearts and minds on days when everything is making us feel like we are drowning in life.

When things are a struggle in our marriage, KEEP in God's love.

When days are draining, KEEP in God's love.

When emotions are overwhelming, KEEP in God's love.

When circumstances are demanding, KEEP in God's love.

Don't let your love for your husband be an empty word. Meaningless. Just a "motion".

Show it. Demonstrate it. Express it.

Do you go the extra mile in letting your husband know you love him more every day? Do you make sure that, regardless of whether you feel it back, he knows YOU love HIM?  Doing things he will love, in little ways as well as big ways?

Do you tell each other that you love each other? And mean it? Seal it with a kiss? Are your children used to seeing you express your love? How will they learn to love, if they don't have you demonstrating it to them??

How about your family and friends? Do you show the love of God to them? Work at relationships so that love is central? Care for them, and have an attitude and act of generosity and kindness to them?

KEEP yourselves in the love of God.

Every day.

Every hour.

Every moment.

Every word.

Every action.

Every thought.

How I fall short.  How much I need to do to KEEP myself in God's love.

May God give us grace as we daily seek to KEEP.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Having your cake {and not eating it...}

I have been a bit quiet this week.

Ok, correction

I have been a bit quiet on HERE this week.

My friends will attest that I have NOT been quiet. Other than the evening I was falling asleep whilst we chatted... and then I was probably snoring.

Yes, I have had a few days holiday. We went to rainy Somerset. Very rainy. Very wet. Very flooded as we drove along. Every day it rained. Every day we went out anyway, as brave Brits do.

We had a lot of fun, especially the children. One day we went for a walk in the woods, where there were endless little streams for the children to jump about in. Great fun! They also got their annual horse riding, with a little ride around the "block". Enjoyed by all of them!

(see how wet her trousers are - their wellies got VERY wet!!)

(Elijah REALLY loved being on the horse!)

(Virtually impossible to get a group of children all looking "normal" at the same time! lol )

(NOT impressed that he was stuck in his pram! *grin* )

It was the perfect excuse to stay in and enjoy the wood burner, really. That, and eat nice food.

So, the "diet" starts on Monday. I am doing Whole30, which I did about 15 months ago.  It's a system that eliminates food groups for 30 days, which have a tendency to cause health problems with people. No sugars, dairy, grains, white potatoes, legumes and other odds and ends. Those are the main things to cut out. Plus, every meal has healthy fat and protein as well as plenty of veg. A little fruit is allowed, too. I enjoyed it the last time, and it changed how I eat all the time. However, sneaky sweet things have sneaked back in, so this is my bid to get back on track again. When I did it last time, I lost 19 lbs in 30 days. That would be good, if I managed that again. I noticed even more the inches lost - most obvious with the fit of clothes. So, we'll see how it goes. I have all the right food in the house, so I should be set to begin.

If I can't have cake to eat, I have certainly found a new kind of cake, which I am loving.

We are talking yarn, here.

My new found love of the hand-dyed yarn.

I got some this week, which I had bought with my birthday vouchers and money. It is a thing of beauty.  However, I discovered that if you want to buy hand-dyed yarn, it comes in skeins.  Like this...

The thing is, you can't use the yarn as it is. You need to wind it into a ball first. When you untwist it, it is just all in one big loop. Once you unsnip the threads that tie it together, it would just get in a tangle if  you used it as it was. You can, of course, hand wind it, and try and get it neat. I realised, before I even started with hand-dyed yarn, THAT woul dbe me. Make a mess of it. SO, I researched, and found out I needed a yarn winder.

It makes the skeins turn out like this....

Piles of prettiness!!! They are called "cakes".  YUM!

What do I have planned for these beauties?!? Time will tell....

This is a yarn winder. It's a fairly simple piece of kit, really.  At the moment, I use a child to hold the yarn.  However, I really need a swift.

You put the yarn around it, and it holds it whilst you wind it into a cake.

The best bit about the cakes, is that the yarn pulls from the centre. It saves you looking like an eejit, waving your arms around, unwinding it from a ball whilst you crochet.  Only if you work with yarn, will you know what I mean.  I may, in fact, rewind all my shop bought balls so they are like this. Hmmmm, having the time for that may not be realistic!

My latest crochet creation was made after I had wound the beautiful hand-dyed yarn into a cake.

I made this basic beanie hat, and these mittens, for my friend Lydia's birthday.  She had asked for new mittens, and I figured making them myself, with some of that scrummy yarn, would be perfect!  It was a pattern taht took a little getting my head around, but once I got the hang of it, it was simple. I love how they came out.  I had yarn left over, so I started to make a hat. Until I realised I would not have enough... and I was already on the way to holiday, where I would be GIVING it to her. Hmmmm.  THANKFULLY, I had bought a few "projects" with me, including some yarn that tied in PERFECTLY!!! SO, I finished it off with that. I think it turned out quite nicely, with just enough of the rainbow yarn left to make a flower for the hat! Happy days!

This particular yarn came from Devon Sun Yarns. The best place to see what Daisy has in stock is to like her Facebook page.

This is the Birthday Girl modelling her pressie. She was pretty pleased, I think! Nice to have someone like their pressie as much as you liked making it. 

I will add the patterns for the hat and mittens to the crochet page. 

So, there we have it. A quick catch up of my week. Back to "normal" next week.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above"
James 1:17

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Crochet Creations {Baylie Bear Cowl}

I have a friend to "blame" for this creation.

Had she not shared it on my Timeline on Facebook, then I would have not been inspired to make it!

I will show it to you, then give you a run down of what I did, and how I found the pattern hooked up.

Cute, isn't it?!?

I did have one person comment that it looked abit like an Ewok! Cute, nonetheless! 

I made it for Abi, but I found it came up rather enormous. I did it in a "child's" size. It took less than 2 balls of yarn, and I used Patons Fab Big Yarn, in "Taupe", which is really "dark brown"!

It was on "3 for 2" in Hobbycraft, so worked out at less than £4 a ball.

I like using chunky yarn, because it comes up pretty quickly. It probably took me less than 2 hours to make this, over a few days/ 

I got the pattern on Etsy, but I think it's available a few places. 

This "child" size was from age 6-10, approximately. *I* could get it on, so I would say it's coming up larger than they say. I want to try another in the smaller size, and see how it works out. 

This is the yardage that it uses for each size....

Super bulky weight yarn 
(90 yards 3/6 months - 105 yards 6/12 months
- 130 yards 12/18 months - 180 yards toddler - 220 yards child - 300
yards adult)

I would also say that the number of rows that you do before making the "hood" part, could be reduced. It goes right over the shoulders of my children, which is a bit too much, in my opinion.

It should certainly keep them warm, as it is weighty enough to stay up over their heads, I think.

The pattern is pretty simply, and only use a foundation chain, a HTC (or HDC if you are in the USA!), and a TC decrease. (or DC decrease...). The pattern is in USA terminology, but i have told you it in the UK first, and USA in parenthesis.

It doesn't explain the decrease in the pattern, but you can find clear instructions here.

I did get a bit confused as to how it would work, but the thing to remember is NOT to slip stitch at the end of each round, when you begin the hood section. As you keep turning and going back again, it means you are left with a "gap" at the front, which becomes the area that you "look" through. You just have to do it to see how it works!

I should really have taken step by step pictures, and if I make another one, I will add them in here.

If you make it yourself, and have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments below.

There are a few other yarns you could try - just make sure they are Super Chunky. The one thing you must check is the yardage of the ball. I used 200g balls, but they may come in 100g balls. Just check out the yardage when you look and buy, so you don't get caught out, and have too little yarn.

There is a nice selection at Wool Warehouse,  and Abakhan. (British stores)

I would recommend that you give it a whirl.

Right, mending and a crocheted gift that won't make itself, calls....