Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Monday, August 18, 2014

Almost School Time Daybook

In the garden...
...children. Two of Faith's cousins are spending the day here and they are outside running with the dog and swinging and looking for great finds in the creek. I had to boot them off the computer to get them there, but they are so much happier getting fresh air.

I am thinking about...
... myself too much lately, too much navel gazing I think. Is this a mid-life thing? I don't know. I think it's a reaction to anxiety -- always wondering what is causing it. I imagine it's also a bit of a pity party, feeling neglected and rather misused by my family, just everyone acting on the assumption that I will do everything they need to have done, with no gratitude shown. I am having a hard time being Mother Mary, putting myself in her shoes and doing my job out of love rather than necessity and feeling put out.

I heard just a bit of Mother Angelica on the radio this morning and she was talking about Martha, of the Martha and Mary story. She said if Martha had known that millions of people in the years after her life would know the story of how she complained about her sister and the Lord scolded her she might have kept her mouth shut. I laughed out loud. Yes, I bet she would have. I am going to try to keep my mouth shut more, but I really am having a hard time changing my thoughts.

I am wearing...
...a bright orange, red and pink floral skirt and a pink v-neck with sandals.

I am reading...

I am creating...
...a new baby quilt, for a little dolly who is going to be adopted in the months ahead. I am waiting for the fabric I ordered for the backing to arrive to finish it.

I have scapular orders and an order for 11 Seven Sorrows chaplets to make asap so they can be in 11 hands for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15. All creativity in the rosary department is on hold, as these are all identical.

I still haven't made the one bridesmaid dress we need for me to make in order to decide if I will make them all. It's starting to really stress me out and I might just see if Doug can do something with the kids one night so I can just dive in when I'm all alone.

I am also working on that knitting project for Christmas, and it's going rather quickly. Doug and I have been watching an episode of Downton every night because he never watched any of it. I save my knitting time for then.

At the school table...
...Noah starts school on Wednesday, which means I better get on the ball with schultütes. Faith will start in a week and I have all her books, with the exception of her math and lessons plans for math -- that's the only subject we enroll in. I have her compliance letter from the school district and an absolutely blank lesson plan book that needs to not be blank in a week -- another source of anxiety. So I'm blogging instead. Makes sense to me.

On the table...
...we had a delicious cookout last night, and I had a revelation of sorts about my food blog. I haven't posted in six months and I have really given up on it. I am not a food blogger. I don't cook anything extravagant and I rarely create my own recipes. But, I do still like to share good recipes. When I first started this blog I shared my recipes here, and I am going to go back to doing just that. Cooking is part of my everyday life, not something I get paid to do, or paid to write about.

Plans for the rest of the week...
...a coumadin clinic appointment this afternoon, a date with my son to go school supplies shopping, and then creating lesson plans and chaplets for the rest of the week.

A few of my favorite things...
...new pencils
...new books
...kids outdoors playing

Prayers sent heavenward for...
...my husband, in his new job, and my children
...our oldest son as he begins his adult life -- we moved him out on Saturday and into his own place, and while I am happy for him, it was a big step and a new stage in life for me
...our priests and religious, especially our parish priests, and Fr. Howe
...our dear friend, a former classmate to my husband, a priest, who has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is going through chemotherapy
...all the babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion this week, for a change of heart

Thursday, August 14, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} at the Farmer's Market

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Faith and I made a quick trip to the Farmer's Market today. 

We started out to go there yesterday -- it's about twenty minutes from home, but it's a peaceful country drive, so I don't mind it a bit -- when Noah called my cell phone to tell me he had locked himself out of the house and he had to get the forms that were inside the house to go down to school and pick up his books. Sigh. 

I was almost to the farm market and had to get off the road and turn around and come home. 

I was almost home when he called to tell me he had found the rock with the hidden key inside. Sigh. 

I wasn't going back yesterday. But, today's schedule emptied itself and off we went.

There are also a few photos from the feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross last week. 

The {pretty, happy, funny, real} is in no particular order, and they are likely mixed up according to your perspective  -- you'll have to decide for yourself which category each photo belongs in. 

My oldest celebrated St. Teresa's feast day with a Hebrew beer. If you don't know St. Teresa's life story, you really should read about. Fascinating. I think he was pretty happy about his choice of refreshment.

The rest of us enjoyed a Jewish Apple Upside Down cake with Caramel (or Carmel -- hee hee) topping. I need to post this recipe at Catholic Cuisine. Yum.

Our pretty farm market, set right in the middle of all of the peach and apple orchards which will be busy with pickers in the next few weeks -- I can't wait!

I love, love, love these baskets, made by craftsmen in Ghana.

If you see my husband, tell him it's this one I like. Can't you just see it brimming with balls of colored yarn? It's huge! It would make me so happy!

These green beans are sooo good. They are so tender.

Peaches -- what we really went for. Get them while they are ripe...and they are ripe!

Oh, but the Fry Pies! Can we pass them by?

Really...with all those gorgeous peaches in the back seat, guess what I chose to snack on during the ride home? And, no, I wasn't driving and eating and photographing!

I had blueberry, but my passenger had chocolate. Funny girl.

Be sure to stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment in everyday life.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Think you don't have time for the rosary?

I did. For the last month or so, I really thought I was just too busy. You are too, right? All those things that need to be done are more important than prayer, or at least a long prayer, like the rosary.

I became a Martha, rather than a Mary. Or rather, I became mostly Martha and little Mary. A Hail Mary here, a desperate attempt at a decade or two there. A nighttime prayer here, an Act of Contrition there. God will take and appreciate any prayer we offer, but I forgot about the graces I receive when I make a dedicated effort at prayer, especially the rosary. Yeah, me, the rosary maker forgot about how important it is to pray the rosary. I was making them, and other people were praying them. But, I was only make a half-hearted attempt at it.

The other day, however, I thought, "I really need to pray the rosary." It was one of those serious promptings by the Holy Spirit -- one that can not be denied. But because I was still in my Martha mind, I turned to an app I had downloaded months ago and I prayed, not as a leader, but follower, while I made a rosary. The best of both worlds? Well, not best, but a good compromise.

"Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love." ~~ St. Therese

I am a Martha, there is no denying. I am not a contemplative cloistered nun who spends her days, or most of her days, in quiet prayer. I cook, clean, launder, school, and in between I sew and create rosaries. My days are full to the brim.

But, there is always room for prayer. Maybe you have little ones who don't give you a rosary's worth of quiet time. Maybe you go, go, go all day and you really think there is just not time. Buts there is. You just have to work it in and use the aids that are out there.

The app that I am using now is available in CD form. You can pray in the car, while you're waiting on a dance lesson or soccer practice. You can pray while you're folding laundry, or while the little kids play with their legos on the floor. You can pray while you're hanging laundry (yes, Janette!), or while you're ironing. While the rosary is most perfect in its quiet, contemplative form, it is also good while you are following along with someone else leading. The children can follow along, too. And if your family is not accustomed to praying the rosary, sometimes it's a less awkward start with someone else leading.

The reason I encourage you to pray the rosary, the complete rosary, in any way you can, is because of the beautiful graces given to you when you contemplate the wonderful mysteries of the rosary. By praying the rosary in a week, or really, in just the days of Monday through Thursday, you contemplate the entire life of Our Lord, from the Annunciation to the Ascension, plus the additional mysteries of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption, and the Coronation of Mary. I actually never realized that the rosary is a complete timeline of Our Lord's life until one day several years ago when I was examining this beautiful holy card I purchased at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. With the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, thanks to our beloved and oh-so-wise St. John Paul II, the mysteries cover the entire life of Jesus.

click on photo to enlarge -- starting in the upper righthand corner and moving clockwise, the mysteries are illustrated, covering the entire life of Christ

I want to encourage you to try praying the rosary if you currently don't. And I encourage you to use the aids that are available to you. A book, or a CD, or an app for your iPod or iPad. The one I am using right now, is available in CD or app form (also here). The rosary is led by a priest -- a different priest for each day (I think one day might be a sister) -- and though some people may find it goes quickly (or too quickly) I find it to be just right for a mother's busy lifestyle. There is beautiful music playing, but it's not overbearing or annoying, at least not to me. And you don't even need beads to follow along with the rosary, so it truly leaves your hands free if you have to fold laundry, clean up after dinner, or hold a baby.

If you have more time for a rosary and you like a scriptural rosary, I highly recommend The Complete Rosary, which gives an alternate phrase that can, if desired, be used following the words: "Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus." Each phrase is particular to the mystery. I also love Holy Rosary: Josemaria Esriva and often take that book with me to Adoration.

Whatever your situation is, whether you have time for an entire scriptural rosary, or can barely fit it in when you're following, I promise you will find it worthwhile to fit it in. Many people start the rosary at night and ask their Guardian Angels to finish if they fall asleep. And there is nothing wrong with that. But by actually contemplating the mysteries of the rosary, consciously, the graces of the rosary will be so much more available. I truly don't think Our Blessed Mother minds that we pray the rosary with busy hands, but we must make our hearts open to receive all the graces.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

End-of-July Daybook

Just hangin' out version

In the garden...
...the sky is clear blue and no showers are in the forecast for today. A high is predicted for 81, the highest temps we've had in a week or so. I am loving this cool, and rather rainy, summer, but lamenting the purchase of a pool pass -- it's not getting a lot of use, and even then only by one member of this family. By summer's end I think the cost will equal about 10 bucks a swim. Oh, well. We can't predict the weather, can we?

It's good laundry hanging weather though -- if you check the weather forecast and avoid the storms.

I am thinking about...
...resting, much like the cat but with no napping, just moving from one spot in the house to another. I feel a lot better than I did last week, but not strong. It's an odd feeling, but I'm trying to ignore it for the most part. I rested for most of the weekend, after my revelation last Friday, but then I had to get going early Monday to go with Joshua to an eye appointment. Halfway through the eye appointment, because the office was overbooked and running late, I had to leave to get home (we were at the eye institute down on campus, almost downtown) because my dryer repairman was coming. Unfortunately he arrived with no ignitor for the dryer on his truck, and had to come back. The afternoon ended with a much-needed haircut. Since Monday my days have been full, but with periods of restful sewing.

I am hopeful that taking it easy will fill the stores for days ahead. That's what summer is for, right?

I am wearing...
...a cotton blue floral skirt, blue v-neck and peachy leather sandals.

I am reading...
...I have not been reading much. Feeling so yucky made it hard to concentrate. One wouldn't think you'd need to concentrate to rest, but I guess your mind must be clear at least. On my kindle I am still reading Second Nature by Jacquelyn Mitchard, and it's turning out to be a very interesting read. 

I am creating...
...a new baby quilt, for a little dolly who is going to be brought from China in the months ahead. I picked out some really cute prints that I think will be perfect for her.

I have scapular orders which are keeping me busy during periods of rest, and I have supplies bagged up for several rosaries and tenners for the shop. It's nice to just grab a baggie of supplies and have everything I need.

I also have fabric for a practice bridesmaid dress, but I am dealing with the anxiety that always comes before starting a project like that. The fabric is beautiful -- I bought the same fabric Taylor chose, but in navy because the mystic purple lace is on backorder until September. If I don't get this dress started it will be September and I might as well have just waited. I need to get the dress finished to see if we like it and should order a large quantity of the fabric. I don't know why I always get this anxiety. I call it "first cut nerves" because I just get nervous until I make the first cut and then it's done. It's very irrational, I know. I need someone to come and hold my hand.

At the school table...
...Noah passed chemistry -- finally, and yay! -- so our summer has started. We have about a month to enjoy it. The public school children will start back in, um, 20 days, so I plan to have a quiet week before we start back as well.

Faith has two parts of the CAT test to finish and then when the results come I can send in our letter of intent. There are books to buy choose, as well. I'm really rather behind, but not stressing it. I know it can all be done in a week if need be. I think I pinned most of my choices earlier in the summer, so I can go to my homeschooling board and refresh my memory on my choices. The hardest part is picking reading books for the year. Faith and I just do not have the same taste, and that makes it hard. Not that she should only read what she likes, but it makes reading a lot more enjoyable, and less like pulling teeth (for both of us). Suggestions for a busy, active, outdoorsy kinda girl? Seventh grade level?

On the table...
...Doug and Noah will be at a car show this evening, so it will be the other kids and me. We already had breakfast for dinner once this week, and Tostada pizza last night. I'll have to check the freezer to see what's lurking and needs to be cooked.

Plans for the rest of the week...
...a doctor's appt. on Friday and a work dinner Friday night. Then there's a birthday party on Sunday for a friend's 50th.

A few of my favorite things...
...fresh peaches from the orchard -- oh my
...the smell of line-dried clothes. In the past year or two, with the nerve pain in my leg, I stopped carrying the clothes outside and just hung them in the basement. I forgot how worth it the smell of line-dried clothes really is.
....having all the kids home

Prayers sent heavenward for...
...my husband, in his new job, and my children
...our oldest son as he begins his adult life
...our priests and religious, especially our parish priests, and Fr. Howe
...our dear friend, a former classmate to my husband, a priest, who has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is recovering from surgery and beginning chemotherapy
...my husband's Aunt Mary, who became very ill on their trip from Ohio back to their Florida home and is hospitalized in between; prayers for a diagnosis and recovery. They were in Ohio celebrating their 50th anniversary with family.
...all the babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion this week, for a change of heart

Photo of the days...
...or photos as the case may be. I wanted to get a photo of Faith in her new Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan for my Ravelry page. This girl will never be a model, let's put it that way. 

Me: The sun is casting shadows on your face, let's go in the garden.

Me: Can you just relax your mouth? You don't have to smile if you don't want to, but soften your mouth.

Me: S-o-f-t-e-n, like not a hard mouth. Just relax.

Faith (flapping arms): I c-a-a-a-a-n'-t!

Saturday, July 26, 2014


This past week was a wash. Most of it was spent on the sofa, alternately sleeping, watching Call the Midwife...again...and working a little bit on a new rosary for the shop. I really like the way the colors came together, especially since I didn't buy them together. I love when that happens.

I got hit by a cold early in the week, and then the test results came back from the doctor that I had a UTI. And then I realized, on Friday, after a week of suffering and not being able to to put two and two together, that I cut back on my gabapentin too fast again and was having the symptoms of withdrawal again. How many times will this happen before I figure out what it is? No idea. I looked up symptoms of Neurontin withdrawal (the brand name) and found this webpage. Of the symptoms listed I had: anxiety, appetite changes, nausea, crying spells (no wonder I sobbed at the scene where Chummy has the baby -- oh my goodness), fatigue, irritability, and sleep disturbances. Thursday night I woke up at least 50 times through the night with that sort of jolt that you sometimes get. My knotted rosary went from bed to sofa to bed and more than fifty Hail Marys were at least started through the night. I begged God for sleep. I begged Mary and St. Anne for sleep. I just begged. I finally, late Friday morning, realized that I had cut back more on my Neurontin three days earlier and the worst of the withdrawal had hit. I have written before that it seems so unfair to have to go through withdrawal from a drug that gave me no benefit while I was on it (I was on it for the nerve pain in my leg), but let this be a warning to you: don't go on brain drugs unless you absolutely have to. Apparently my brain really likes gabapentin and doesn't want to give it up. I went to the doctor (and told her what was wrong) and she told me she would have me wean much more slowly. I was on it for two years, and it will take months to go off of it. Sigh. I added some back to my doses yesterday and, thank you God, Mary and St. Anne, slept like a baby last night.

On top of everything else going on -- the kids all coming home at once, being sick, being crazy and exhausted -- the dryer broke. The repairman will come next week. So we're hanging the laundry, which, though I still feel weak as a kitten, forces me to go out and breathe fresh air. And it's not too hot, and it's nice and breezy.

what I like to call laundry therapy

I wound a ball of yarn today for a new project, which took me about 30 minutes, after which I was exhausted. It's a Christmas gift, and the yarn was very dear, so I hope it turns out as beautifully as I imagine. I think I'll start it tonight. Hopefully I won't need another color for a little while (I haven't read the directions yet) because without a swift and a winder, I can only do one skein a day.

the wound ball is "Blue Hawaii"
next to that is "Wild Berry" and then "Storm"

I have visions of sitting in the backyard in a shaded chair with my knitting for many cool evenings this summer, and afternoons in the fall. I think this project will take just about that long. Unfortunately as the recipient might be checking in here, I won't be showing any pictures or linking to any patterns.

And in the garden:

a sweet little fern frond, which unfurled completely this morning

coleus, butter-colored petunias and the first ripe tomato

day lily in one of my Mary gardens

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three men and a girl

AKA -- I made an apology in advance to our neighbors this weekend. "For awhile, our driveway and curb are going to look like a used car lot."

All the chicks are back home. On Thursday, Faith and I went to campus to pack up the kitchen of Joshua's apartment and fill the van with boxes to bring home. On Saturday, we took a car and a van and loaded them up and brought the rest home (a lot of which went straight to the curb because of stupid landlord rules that it couldn't go in the dumpster). I cleaned the apartment and we locked up and left. As I did all this, I had many thoughts to share with those of you following closely in my footsteps -- getting ready to send your babies off to college. Alas, those thoughts are now gone, like the gray, sudsy water down the drain.

An acquaintance once told me regarding the condition of college dwellings, "After you move them into their dorm (or apartment) you can never go back. The sight of it is like looking into the sun -- it will blind you." I completely agree. The problem with college dorms and apartments is they are never clean to begin with, so you can hardly leave a truly clean dwelling behind, and the dirt accumulated in a year is astonishing.

And really, you can hardly not go back and get them, right?

I suppose I could have pulled up to the curb and said, "Load it up and hop in."

At present, my garage is full of boxes -- some that have belongings that will be stored until the wedding next year, and some that need to be unpacked, and all contents washed in hot water and harsh soap before they are put away.

The funny thing is, or not funny if you are me, I thought I had a whole week to catch up before I moved Geoffrey home (for three weeks until his grown up apartment is ready). But, after we arrived home and unloaded the boxes on Saturday, Geoffrey arrived in his car loaded full of his boxes. He is home, for good (temporarily), but will go back each day and bring more home. Most of it will stay in the garage for a month and get moved to his next apartment in August.

Do I have any advice? I told Doug we have a new rule --"If you leave home for college you can never come back." I know...that's mean. So, I'll revise it to "If you go away to college, your stuff can never come back." These kids today think they should have all the comforts of home while they are away at college. Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of "comforts of home"? So, I guess my advice would be -- don't set them up for comfort at college, set them up for school. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't let them take their electronic gaming consoles, or DVDs and viewing devices, and I would spend a lot less money on anything devised to comfort. I also won't be cleaning any more college apartments. Nope. You're on your own there.

So now the kitchen table is full at meal time again, and I am exhausted. I cooked a big meal yesterday (this dish with my own homemade sauce and meatballs -- six "yums") and an apple pie for dessert. I cooked most of the day (I've never been able to reconcile "no work on Sunday" with big Sunday dinner). My washer has been running almost constantly since Thursday evening and I have hardly a dent in the piles. First world problem, I know.

Lucky for you, I didn't take one photo, so you can wait to be blinded by your own experiences.

I did take this photo at home yesterday -- this is me for the rest of the week.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Word crimes

My eldest son sent this video to me with the comment, "Weird Al really understands me."

I laughed out loud when I watched it.

I admit to being guilty of a few of these word crimes, especially on this blog. But my children and I all text in complete sentences, which, I hope, says something of their education. We most definitely are grammar snobs. Between Dominican sisters who taught me in primary school, and wonderful homeschooling English texts written before 1965,  I even think in proper grammar. Yesterday I was trying to decide, in my head, if the pronoun I had just used in the sentence, in my head, was in the correct form and if the pronoun I used (me) should be in the nominative or objective case -- while I was doing my laundry! By the way, the sentence called for an objective case pronoun, so I was correct. Too much? Maybe, but I hopefully won't be guilty of many of these word crimes, though I do use quotations marks for emphasis ::blush::

I hope you get a laugh out of it.

PS There are a couple of mature Weird Al-isms in the video, but I'm confident they will go over any child's head.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Yarn Along...Tiny Tea Leaves cont'd.

I'm still working on my Tiny Tea Leaves sweater for Faith. Just this morning she asked me if it was finished yet and I replied, "It's not exactly sweater weather." She said, "I know, I just wanted to know if it was finished." She must have plans, because Faith always has a purpose when she inquires anything. It has been cooler than normal, so maybe she thinks it will get some wear before October.

I'm in the home stretch as I am about a quarter of the way finished with the second sleeve. I must confess, I have real problems with the first and last picked up stitches at the armholes. They never really look secure and I always worry that they will come loose and leave a big gap. Any suggestions from more experienced sweater knitters?

I am listening to Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra. It is the shocking and true story of the author's life in and out of foster homes in Suffolk County New York and the life in between foster homes with her abusive and extraordinarily neglectful mother. The author tells how she grew up at a very young age, not only by witnessing her mother's sinful and hateful behavior, but by being left to mother her younger siblings at an age when she could barely take care of herself. It is so very sad, and appalling to know that this sort of neglect, both by a mother, and a government child care system takes place in this country. While it did happen several decades ago, I'm sure it still happens in many places and to many, many children.

I gave up on listening to  Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott. Some books are just better read than listened to, and that is one. I haven't finished reading  Second Nature by Jacquelyn Mitchard yet. A dozen pages a night makes for slow going. My eyes just won't stay open for more than that. 

I need to start looking for another project when I finish the sweater, but in the meantime I have an order of six scapulars to sew and have delivered by July 15, so I best go get sewing.

While I was outside taking photos of the sweater, I couldn't resist getting a picture of my praying angel. She looks so sweet among the green and red foliage.

Check out Ginny's post for some more knitting projects and some summer reading!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


You can't see it in this picture, but the tree tops over our house were swaying with the incredible gusts of wind all day.

Last night we went to bed to an incredible storm. I was so tired that only the really loud claps of thunder woke me, but it lasted for quite a long time. Fortunately there were no tornado sirens and we stayed in our beds. The weather over the weekend was so beautiful with temps in the 70s and clear blue skies, that the storms before the weekend and after make it seem as if God did us a great favor by giving us super Fourth weather. I know we couldn't possible have had gorgeous weather all over the country (in fact, I hear they definitely didn't in North Carolina), but I am grateful for ours.


Faith and I went on our first official bike ride tonight and I am scouting out all the dedicated bike trails that are close by. I didn't fall my first time out, so I consider it a success. Faith chuckled at me a few times until I told her that if she was going to laugh at me I wouldn't take her along any more. She stopped after that.


In my post yesterday, I forgot to tell you a heart-warming story that I heard at Mass on Sunday. A friend from our church celebrated her daughter's wedding on the Fourth of July. Her daughter was engaged to a Marine and last week he learned he was going to be deployed -- just days before the wedding. A serious conference with several commanding officers apparently got the deployment delayed, and on Wednesday the young groom set off from one of the Carolinas to Columbus to obtain the marriage license for the Friday wedding. His car broke down somewhere in North Carolina. After he had it towed to a mechanic, he learned the mechanic wouldn't be able to have it repaired until sometime Thursday, but not in time for him to make it to the state department for the license. While his fiancee calculated how long it would take to drive to North Carolina and back and whether they would make it in time, he had it towed to a dealership nearby. After explaining the situation to the service department the manager of the dealership gave him the keys to a brand new sports car and told him to bring it back when he returns after his honeymoon. He said they'd have his car repaired by then. The young man explained that he wouldn't be back for ten days, and the manager told him to enjoy his wedding and honeymoon. 

There are still incredible people in this world, who apparently have a great appreciation for our men in uniforms and the institution of marriage. Amen.

Monday, July 07, 2014

A camera/brain dump

It's been a long ten days since I was last here. We had a busy holiday and few days leading up to. Lots of family, food and (illegal) fireworks. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the "three Fs." Once people arrive, I never remember to get my camera out -- just too much too do, cooking and playing.
So, there is a lot more brain dump than camera dump to this post.

I have been sewing a lot. I finished that baby boy quilt, but didn't want to post photos until I knew the recipient received it. And he did. He's such a cutie.

On my birthday, I decided that all my skirts needed a "cut" and I cut eight inches off all of them. They are now knee length and I feel a lot less dowdy. They are not short, by any stretch, but I think the length they were was fairly matronly. Since then I stitched another blouse for Faith, some cloth napkins, and added some pretty fabric to some hand towels for the half bath. I have fabric for two blouses for me, one more for Faith, some little drawstring bags to hold some little Folkmanis hand puppets for birthday gifts, and I want to try making covers for the Magnificat -- maybe something for the shop. I'm never short on projects. I also have seven scapulars to hand sew.

We had a big crowd for the Fourth. I cooked for two days preparing drinks, dinner, and desserts, and we had travelers from Maryland, Kentucky, and Cincinnati. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We decorated more than we usually do for the Fourth, and the flower arrangement above was a sort of "test drive" for wedding arrangements. The blue color is from Water Gems -- cool, huh? As usual, Doug had a lot of fireworks, most of which were illegal in Ohio, but please don't tell the local police. Our new neighbors from California said they have hardly ever seen fireworks because there is usually a ban on them where they are from because of the fire hazard. And the girlies next door, the twins, saw their first fireworks right out in front of the house. They loved them!

Speaking of the girlies, one of the twins had open heart surgery today. I don't know what the name of the condition was, but the surgery was partly repairing a hole in her heart and partly something else. I went over at 5 this morning to stay with the other little one, as they had to be at the hospital at 6. Shortly after noon, I got news that the surgery was over and was a success. The doctors called it "textbook," so now we're praying for a textbook recovery, as well. I think I'll be in bed early tonight -- it's been a while since I got up at 5 a.m.

Before my brother Jeff left town for Maryland, he bought and delivered a new bike -- for me! I was stunned -- I can't remember when anyone gave me such a generous gift. He is a serious cyclist and I had asked him to look at a bike we got second hand from my in-laws last year. I wanted to have it fixed up so Faith and I could go riding. He went to a bike repair shop and found out many of the parts are not made anymore, and since I wanted wider tires on it, they would pretty much have to remake the bike. So, he bought me a new one. Today I bought a basket, and a helmet, so I am ready to go. I haven't ridden in more than 25 years, so I think I have a steep relearning curve ahead. But once I am back in the saddle, so to speak, I think it will be fun to get around on two wheels. Our small town has a lot of bike paths, so we should be able to travel quite a bit by bicycle.

I think that's quite a bit of excitement for the last ten days! At least it feels like I need a short vacation now. Or maybe just an early bedtime.