Sunday, December 21, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ December 21, 2014

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}.


After three years of living in a house without a fireplace, we once again have a mantel, which of course, is prime real estate for Christmas decorating.  I bought a holly garland at Hobby Lobby for $6, knowing it was a little sparse but that I thought I could beef it up a little with what I already had and few additions from the dollar store.  I had six small candle rings with poinsettias, red berries, etc. that I've used on chandeliers in the past, but this house has no such chandelier, so I cut the rings in two and interspersed them as is throughout the holly garland.  I also bought bunches of white "berries" from the dollar store, cut them apart, and just stuck the pieces in willy-nilly wherever there was a bare spot.  I'm amazed at how lush and full it looked!  And all for $8!

I love my Johnson Bros. Christmas plate I bought for $2.50 at Marshall's a few years ago!


We had our first significant snow last week and Man of the House seemed happy as a clam shoveling the driveway.  I doubt he'll feel the same way in February . . .

The pond is lovely in any season~


A last portrait of Felix, taken by Dave

We learned last week that our cat, Felix, was terminally ill.  He took the long ride to the vet on Friday and we are now pet-less.  We've had a variety of pets for the past twenty-two years, and Felix was our last remaining one.  Though we aren't yet used to his being gone, the time is right for us to embrace our new status as non-pet-owners.  Thank you for years of companionship and affection, Felix.  We will miss you.


Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate the birth of Emmanuel~ God with us!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ December 14, 2014

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for {phfr}!


Not long ago, we had some very cold weather and the pond formed a thin skin of ice that remained for several days. One night the pond frosted over and was lined with long shadows the next morning. It is wonderful to watch the pond transform with the changes of weather and season.  Each stage is beautiful in its own right.


I've been busy since October making Christmas gifts and still have two to go (though both are in progress).  I really, really enjoyed making these finger puppets for Arane.  Each one took one and a half to two hours from start to finish, and I made a total of ten, one for each chubby, little, two-and-a-half-year-old finger.  I borrowed, and in some cases adapted, the patterns from this book.  I haven't worked with felt since I was in grade school and I was surprised and pleased by how enjoyable it was.  I plan to make more things from felt in the future!

I whipped up a little storage pouch with a velcro closure~
easy for little fingers to open and close!

Though I like them all, for some reason this little guy is my favorite!


Coming up with gifts for second babies is hard, don't you think?  Mostly they use hand-me-downs from their older siblings, especially if they are the same sex, as with my two grandbabies.  Books and toys are always good, of course, and we have bought some for Verity, but I wanted to make her something.  I found this carseat blanket on Pinterest and thought it looked practical and cute and fast.  I made it in a couple hours.  I will cut and sew the holes when I have access to her carseat so I can get them in the right place.  I found the fabric at Jo-Ann.  So sweet!

{Funny} and {Real}

I spent Tuesday morning making Dave's favorite Christmas sweet~ fruitcake.  This is the first time I have attempted it in this kitchen with this oven and using parchment paper instead of a paper bag, so I was a little nervous.  The recipe calls for dousing the half-cooked cake in whiskey at fifteen minute intervals during the last hour or so of the baking process.  The house came equipped with a double oven, one large and one small.  I chose to use the small oven despite the little niggling doubt that bounced briefly around in the back of my mind.  After the last dousing and with fifteen minutes of baking left to go, I went out to get the mail.  I came back in to a smoky house and a husband asking me if I had heard the explosion outside.  


Explosion?  What explosion?!  Apparently, the whiskey-soaked parchment had ignited and the explosion had blown the oven door open!  There were bits of ash floating in the air.  I feared for my fruitcakes, but they were miraculously unscathed, if slightly singed around the edges.  Here's the evidence of the mishap:

The black bits are mostly the burned-up parchment paper.
When I peeled the paper off, the cakes looked pretty good!
Dave thinks the smallness of the oven contributed to the ignition, and I think the parchment was more flammable than a paper bag.  Next year, I'll use the big oven and a paper bag.  Ah, well, live and learn.  Christmas 2014 will be remembered as the year Martha caused an explosion while making fruitcake!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ Dec. 7, 2014

So much has gone on since I lasted posted that I don't think I can cram it all into one post.  We had guests galore!  Lizzie, Justin, and their two adorable children stayed for a whole week.  Loads of exhausting fun, including a trip to the St. Louis Zoo.  At varying times and for varying lengths, we also hosted my mother, my sister, my niece, and Dave's mother during the same week.  Of course, everyone wanted to take advantage of the WV contingent being so close.  We went to my other sister's for Thanksgiving.  It was all extremely diverting but also extremely fatiguing.  But so, so good!


These pictures do not do justice to the utter adorableness of my two granddaughters.

Arane (almost two and a half)

Verity (almost three months)

So sweet and cuddly!  Just look at those kissable dumpling cheeks! We had so much fun coaxing smiles and coos from Verity and exploring the world with Arane.  Arane is my mother's first great-grandchild and Verity is her fifth.  We've had a veritable baby boom in my family in the past two and a half years!

My mother and Verity getting to know one another


Arane loved to explore the woods and pond with "Papa."  He even let her drive his truck, which scored big points with her.


It was the first time Dave's mother, Sylvia, and Arane and Verity made each other's acquaintance. They hit it off very well, but Arane had trouble remembering yet another grandma's name.  She got the "Grandma Syli-" part right, but when she couldn't remember the third syllable, she added one that was logical and familiar to her: "-ware."  Grandma Sylviware!


Unrelated to Thanksgiving visits and activities~

Our nativity set has gone missing, along with a few other decorations.  We've looked in every conceivable box, and it is not there.  It was last seen on our moving truck in May, but of course, we haven't had occasion to look for it until recently, so we didn't realize it was gone.  We got it as a Christmas present at least twenty years ago.  I really liked it too; it was classic white china with gold trim.  I'm sorry it's gone!

We took far too many pictures to share them all here, or even a reasonable representation of them.  I'll leave the rest to your imagination.  Thanks for stopping by!  Visit Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {phfr}!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ November 16, 2014

Squeaking in just under the wire . . .


Snow!  We had snow today!  Okay, so it was just a dusting, but the first snowfall is always exciting.  By February I'll be ready for warmth and sunshine, but today I enjoyed the snow.

Both of these were taken from the screened in porch, which I
understand is a no-no, but hey! It was cold out there!

Ice on the pond the day before it snowed . . .

Photo courtesy of Man of the House


The geese are very happy with our pond, it seems.  Various groups come and go, or maybe it is the same few groups that go away and come back again?  I don't know, but you should hear the racket they send up when landing or taking off!

Another photo taken by Man of the House


Seen on Friday in two separate stores~

Apparently manufacturers don't know that Christmas and Advent are not the same things. 

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ November 9, 2014

Joining Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter for {phfr}.  Let's just dive right in, shall we?


It's high time I shared pictures of my kitchen.  The kitchen, living room, and dining room are all one big space.  (Remember when I showed you those?)  It's not a big, luxury kitchen~ that would have been entirely against my in-laws' principles and way of life~ but it does have some nice features such as two full-sized sinks, a double oven, and plenty of cabinet space.  Plus, there is a good-sized pantry just a step away.

You can see how it connects to the dining area, which is the blue space on the left.

The gargoyle sees all . . .

Yes, the walls are really the intense red-orange you see in the pictures.  The camera did not exaggerate one tiny bit!  The color works here, I think, because there is not very much wall space and it is an open area.  On the other hand, the master bath is this same color, and let me tell you, it is very . . . shall we say?. . . exuberant in that small, enclosed space.  My in-laws liked color; what can I say?

I love the big open expanse of countertop that divides the kitchen from the dining area; I love it if I can manage to keep it cleared.  It does insist on becoming a catch-all, but it is being trained out of that Very Bad Habit.  I don't love the white appliances, but they are all good and serviceable, so they are here to stay.  The floor is a hard, stone-like tile which is pretty but unforgiving to anything that is dropped.  So far, nothing of consequence has been broken.

Remember when Leila did "pretty over the kitchen sink"?  Here's my sink area now:

From the picture, it looks like the truck dominates the view, but in reality, it is easily overlooked for the wooded hills and sunsets.

If you stand in the middle of the kitchen and turn around, this is what you see:

So you can see that the three areas~ kitchen, living room, and dining room~ are really all one big, open space.  This arrangement requires that the kitchen stay picked up, but since I don't like an untidy kitchen anyway, it doesn't really bother me.


Man of the House and I attended a symposium on bioethics at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis yesterday.  During the lunch break, we headed over to the library to look at this:

It is J.S. Bach's personal Bible!  With margin notes in his own hand!

A close-up of said margin notes

This Bible has a surprising history.  It was listed on an inventory Bach had made of his books, but no one knew where it was or even what it was as it was listed by the last name of the author whose commentary is included as part of the three-volume set.  All three volumes turned up in an attic of a Michigan farmhouse in 1934!  Mystery solved!  And now I have seen it.  *happy sigh*  


When my girls were babies, parents did not usually dress their infants up for Halloween, but the times, they are a-changin', and my newest little granddaughter went as a bag of popcorn.  Attached to her baby carrier was a red and white felt popcorn "bag," and she wore the hat you see below. Very clever!  She, however, was unimpressed by her cuteness and cleverness, as you can see~

Thank you for visiting!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Our Front "Yard"

I went out on the deck to admire the scenery one day last week when I noticed four friends of the web-footed variety playing on the edge of the pond.

While I was watching, two friends of the four-footed variety joined them for a drink.

The show continued for about ten minutes.  I held my breath, stayed stock-still, and took oodles of pictures.  I love our front "yard"!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}~ October 26, 2014

I neglected to take a single picture this week!  I almost gave up on having anything to post for {phfr} when it occurred to me that instead of pictures, I'd post some favorite quotations appropriate for each category.  So, from my commonplace book~


"We are needy creatures, and our greatest need is for home~ the place where we are, where we find protection and love.  We achieve this home through representations of our own belonging, not alone but in conjunction with others.  All our attempts to make our surroundings look right~ through decorating, arranging, creating~ are attempts to extend a welcome to ourselves and to those whom we love."~ Roger Scruton


"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances."~ Martha Washington


"The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin."~ P.G. Wodehouse


"In living and moving and having something of our being in a home culture, even with its all-too-human fuss and bother, if we but smuggle in something of the simple cargo-sturdy, comfortable furniture, fresh food, home-cooked meals, good wine, one set of fine china for special meals, paintings and ancestral portraits on the wall, an old upright piano, acoustic guitar, any non-electric instrument, a time set apart to read aloud before prayers and bedtime~ if we but make a welcome hearth for the songs of the Muses, we too will know that even on this earth, now and again, a courage will visit among us in those comforting, beautiful reflections of the permanent things, quite surprising yet strangely familiar for us who are passing to and fro in these playful shadows, and we will begin to see as Odysseus recognized, 'something very much like perfection.'"~ James S. Taylor

The obligatory picture (though this one is from a month ago)

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