Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hooking in the New Year

This morning's view was peaceful and soothing. A snowstorm was the perfect excuse to stay put and be creative. Steve kept the wood stove burning and the paths cleared. I made a pot of soup and worked on my rug. I'm so pleased that Virginia gives us a bit of winter each year. It's just the right amount for my liking and I embrace days like this in which we can enjoy our favorite wintry activities and view these beautiful landscapes. The weather forecast has us at sixty-three degrees by Friday and that's the beauty of living in the mountains of Virginia! * The window screen pattern in this photo mimics the weave of the linen backing of my rug.

I hooked a table runner for Claire's Christmas gift. My biggest challenge at this beginner stage of hooking is finding wool in the colors I envision for a particular project. Wool is expensive and it takes a long time to build up a stash. My hooking friends have been generous and have given me wool from their stashes. Otherwise, I have ordered some specific pieces online and found other pieces via garments in thrift stores. For me, this craft is all about the wool and I search for it and collect it like a pack rat.

Steve built this cubby for me which was funded by my sister as a lovely Christmas gift. It's the perfect storage for the wool I've begun to amass. The baskets hold leftover strips and smaller pieces. Veteran hookers have walls of cubbies like this, jam-packed with wool in various shades of every color. (In my dreams!) It's like having a paint palette or a sixty-four count box of crayons at your fingertips. : )

Sunday, January 1, 2017

'appy New Year!

     This is what happens when you give a little guy permission to help himself to the cookie plate. I'm not sure I understand it, but I'm sure he had a very good reason. I love the antics of children and the way it forces me to see the world from a child's perspective. Another example of this was when I handed all three grandchildren dog biscuits to give Henri. As they stood in the kitchen waiting their turn to hand Henri a biscuit, the two-year-old started eating his dog biscuit. When I told him not to eat Henri's dog biscuit he asked, "Why?" Well.. he rendered me speechless. I had no reason why. His mother and I looked at each other and laughed. Then I told him, "I don't know why. Go ahead and eat it I guess." Anyway, our initial alarm was enough to make him stop eating it and he handed it over to Henri.
     Our holiday season stretched out over two weeks with family coming and going and coming and going. It was wonderful in every way, except for missing Chelsea and her family who couldn't travel this year. Overall, everyone stayed healthy and safe and I couldn't ask for more than this. I took plenty of typical family photos which I will not embarrass everyone by publishing.
     Looking back, 2016 was the year my mom passed away and the year in which we did the most difficult things we have ever been called to do. I don't wish time away, it is too precious for such thinking, but I am glad that time has buffered some of the pain and that over time we can bring positive memories to the forefront and let the painful memories slip deeper into the past.
     Another huge change in 2016 was Steve's career move. After twenty-six years in the cement industry he made a move into a completely different industry. It involves a much, much longer commute but, his weekends have been free and his stress level is greatly reduced. It is a treat for me to now have him home on the weekends and to see him enjoy some of his hobbies a little more.             
     We have much to look forward to in the coming year. Of course, we have expectations. However, we cannot know for sure what is to come and part of that is the excitement of looking ahead. In the meantime, we go about our daily routines and seek paths for love, laughter, and learning. My three L's and my newly made up theme for the new year!

We had a little bit of snow. I wish I could have captured the look on the children's faces when they woke up and saw snow that morning.

Our niece's dog, Milo sits with Audrey and Jared. He has quite the personality!
It was the only hat we could find at a moment's notice for Jack to wear. He didn't mind the hat at all. The face he's making is because two of us were taking their picture and he didn't know which of us to look at, so he held his head still, but scanned his eyes back and forth between photographers.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Welcome Christmas Come This Way, Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day!

The sheep is a new gift this year. The slab of barn wood, a gift from a few years ago. I like how old and new combine to create something totally new. This is how our Christmas feels this year.
We added some glitter to the candle box on the windowsill over the kitchen sink.
Audrey and I gathered pine cones and the little tree on one of our walks. The county had just come along the day before and hacked and sawed all the overgrowth from the roadside. Evergreen boughs were left on the ground for the taking.
Some years the lights are white and some years they are colored, but the ornaments always remain the same- with the addition of one or two new ones found in antique shops or estate sales during the year. : )

The wee folk took up residence in the cedar garland this year.

Audrey helped : )
     I am not sure how I feel about the Christmas celebrations this year. I should rephrase that. I know how I feel about Christmas. I love to celebrate the birth of our Savior in every true and real sense of its meaning. Steve has always said that we celebrate this every day and it's true. December 25th happens to be that day the world celebrates it (on steroids) and it's wonderful. But, here in my own little world, as in many people's little worlds, loved ones are gone and perhaps others can't be together for logistical reasons. Missing and longing can make Christmas time feel hollow and empty and leave our hearts aching. And yet, we celebrate. This fact alone gives me great courage. Whether there are  two or ten around our Christmas table, we will celebrate. Christ came to earth to save all mankind. This small seed of knowledge is enough to kindle a fire that burns bright through the ages, bright enough to still give us great hope over two thousand years later. No matter what circumstances shake our own individual lives, God became man and walked among us. Rejoice!

Isaiah 9:6
  "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Past

     The founder of the Wooly Sheep Farm Rug Hooking Group invited us all to her home for our annual Christmas party. Being the newest member, this was my first visit to Hazel's house. Her home embodies all that she loves in the way of Primitive antiques. Even the home's design and construction, which is modern, evokes the Primitive style. Most of the modern conveniences such as appliances and electronics are hidden behind cupboards. Upon our arrival, her husband had a warm fire crackling in the fireplace. Fresh evergreen sprigs and berries filled baskets and adorned mantels, vintage Christmas cards glittered on shelves, and pewter and salt glazed ware lined every hutch and pantry. It was a treat for this history and antique lover to be entertained for the day in such an environment. It was a fun party with excellent food and fun. Being rug hookers, we enjoyed a crazy gift exchange where everyone brought a fat quarter of wool. Most of the women tucked extra little gifts in with their wool gift bundles and there was a lot of stealing of gifts involved. All I can say is, there were no losers in that game because all the wool was beautiful.
     Hazel was happy for us to enjoy her collections and photograph to our hearts' content. I took a few photos of my favorite tableaux.  Enjoy!

Serving hutch in the kitchen

Desserts in the pantry

Poinsettias add a splash of bright color in the living room

An antique hooked rugs hangs behind a child's toy horse in a hallway.
Salt glazed pottery in the pantry
A sweet little hooked rug mat of a Christmas tree

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Around the Place Lately

     All of a sudden, autumn has turned into winter. The shortened daylight hours and temperatures in the thirties and below make it hard to mistake winter's arrival.  By late afternoon I go around the house and turn on various lamps and twinkle lights to make it feel cozy inside. But, it's hard to ignore the dark and cold on the other side of the window.
     The fallen tree from last summer is now all cut up and stacked in the shed. The shed structure used to be the run-in shed for Audrey's horses, but they are long gone and this year we've begun to call it the woodshed. It will henceforth be called, "The Woodshed". Steve likes to go out there with his axes and chop wood. It fuels the wood stove in our basement, which in turn warms our wood floors and gives us a place to roast marshmallow peeps. That fallen tree has given us a great gift in all of this. I would have preferred it remain standing, but it gave us a fantastic bonfire and now it is burning clean and hot for our wood stove.

          I finally gave myself permission to get started on my next rug project. My rule to self was that I must to finish getting ready for Christmas before I could begin a rug. Now that the house is  decorated, the shopping complete, and the two grandsons' stockings sewn, I can begin my rug! I'm experimenting with hand dyed wool for the first time. I will also use regular, mill dyed wool and I have a foraged piece of wool garment from a thrift store that is the perfect color for some leaves. So far, it looks great. Steve took my picture when I was transferring my pattern onto the primitive linen backing. My thought at that precise moment was about how good the linen smelled. It smells like hay, nice and earthy. I love working with it. Every week I get together with two ladies who are teaching me the craft. I enjoy the hours that we sit together. They have so many stories of life to tell and so much gentle wisdom to impart through those stories, and this all while our hands are busy creating. 

You can imagine the excitement at school as we lead up to the holidays. Children come to school wearing Santa hats and reindeer ears. Many children have come carrying boxes to their classrooms in which to capture gingerbread men, and someone sprinkled chocolates on my desk when they walked by. One little girl was late to school because that mischievous Elf-on-the-Shelf made a mess with sticky bows at her house. The Roanoke Children's choir came to perform for our school, three tour bus loads of them! It was a beautiful sound, indeed. Personally, I prefer a gentler, quiet Christmas time, but I still rejoice in seeing others' festivities, especially the children's.
     Speaking of children, our granddaughter made my day when she mailed this little note to me. She has drawn pictures and written little notes to me before, but this one seemed especially grown up now that she is six years old. I smile every time I see this note with the two little blue pompoms taped to the card for an extra measure of happiness.

Monday, December 5, 2016

At the Tree Farm

L: " Umm, I don't know, Steve. I think it's really too big."
S: "Trust me. It will work. It's a great tree."
L: "How tall is it? Look at it next to me. It's huge."
S: "We'll just use the top part."
L: "It will be shaped all wrong. No no no. Maybe I should walk home and get the tape measure. You want me to walk home and get the tape measure?"
S: "C'mon. Let's just get it. "(He raises the saw)
L: "No! Just let me check the front field one more time to see if there's a better one up there. OK? Let's go look. If anyone takes this tree in the meantime, it's fine."

There was a "normal" tree in the other field. Thank goodness.