Friday, April 29, 2011

can't seem to stop...

Here I am. Back again with more calligraphy after all. Though I have made a little sewing progress lately, I got another custom calligraphy order which became the top item on my project-priority list.

The style and paper were suggested by my customer, and I just love how it turned out! This little 5 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch project came together amazingly quickly as her description meshed with my mental image (almost) effortlessly onto paper.

(Does it sound silly to say that the water drops were such fun to draw?)

Linking up to Jennifer's Studio Sneak Peek again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

graduation gift + custom order

It seems as if my various types of crafty activities take turns on the front burner. One month I'll be super-productive with sewing, the next I'll go crazy with crochet, and then before you know it I'm deep in photography again. I have jokingly began to call these stages my "crafting fads." Right now most of my creative energy seems to be going into calligraphy.

Benjamin snapped this photo of my working in my craft area the other night. I love how placing a lamp under my sturdy glass-topped table makes a perfect (and huge!) light box.

This is a graduation gift for a young friend who is graduating from high school this year. It did not turn out at all like I had planned, but what I had planned simply wasn't working. After three draft attempts, I decided my plan should be altered. (Do you know how much space the word "understanding" takes up!? That's what kept throwing me off.)

My other project from last week was another custom order. I loved the quotation so much that I made three versions of this on different papers. This one is my favorite. My customer (who is from England--very exciting!) will choose which one she likes best, and I'll find something to do with the other two. (If you're interested in one, let me know!)

Barring any more custom orders or more graduation announcements, I think that I'll be turning to sewing for a while. I have a quilt for Brother in the works, a vest to make for Little Man to wear in a wedding, baby gifts to finish, and whatever nursery stuff I make for Sweet Pea to put together. Hopefully I'm not being overly ambitious here... : )

Saturday, April 23, 2011


from terror, joy
from agony, peace
from despair, hope
from darkness, light
from blood stains, spotless white
from hideous death, glorious life
from binding burden, soaring flight

i stand transformed, in awe
and bow in humility
before God

a God
who loves
who never gives up
who stops at nothing
to transform
barren, desperate people
and dark, hopeless situations
into landmarks of beauty and life

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

golden yellow

Is it possible to crave a color? If it is, I'm definitely craving golden yellow. I think it has something to do with anticipating spring--golden sunshine, yellow flowers, and warmer air. It's just such a happy color.

Over the last three days or so, I've been enjoying doing all sorts of fun Etsy searches for things with "golden yellow" in them. It has been a nice (though not overly practical) way of spending quality time sitting with my heating pad trying to sooth a sore back. Here are few of the golden yellow things I found and loved.

Monday, April 18, 2011

waffle making

Little Man and I love making (and eating!) waffles. He's getting to be such a good kitchen helper that it actually saves me time when he works with me! Our favorite recipe is the Joy of Cooking's basic waffle recipe. Once our waffle batter is mixed up, I cook the waffles in my waffle maker--a vintage one that I inherited from my great-grandmother.

At first I was disappointed that I didn't have a new waffle maker. I'm sure this was partly due to the fact that it took me several tries to figure out how to make perfectly cooked, stick-free waffles. Multiple failures can be discouraging, you know.

However, once I leaned that 1/3 cup of batter (plus a little more for the edges) makes just the right size of waffle and that cooking it on the "dark" setting for 3 minutes toasts it a perfect, crispy brown I started loving my vintage maker. Now I'm not quite what I'll do when my trusty (though quirky) vintage waffle iron is no longer around to turn out those delicious golden stacks of waffles we all love.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet Pea's sweater

Remember how I said I had gotten brave started a little sweater for Sweet Pea? Well, last week and weekend everything aligned for me to work on finishing it: a long wait while getting blood tests done, a cold which kept me confined at home, and the master's golf tournament, which happens to go quite nicely with crocheting. And finish it I did.

I used a free pattern from Ravelry for the sweater and made up the hat pattern all by myself. The yarn is TLC cotton plus yarn, and the buttons are vintage shell buttons from my stash.

There are some imperfections, but that's to be expected from my first ever attempt at sweater making. Overall I'm delighted with how it turned out, though, and am eager for more sweater-making adventures.

What do you think. Does she look cute in it? I'm sure it'll look much cuter when she is actually here are fits into in. : )

Friday, April 15, 2011


the inability to sleep
while feeling ready to drop from exhaustion
when every cell cries for rest
has to be among the most uncomfortable sensations
in human history

fragments on song
flashes of image
incomplete thought
swirl in my brain
whirlwind speed

the aches
and sharp pains
that make themselves known
are an even louder phenomenon

i toss and turn
in a rest
that is not rest

Lord, give me peace
help me to sleep
and be nice
even if i can't

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

can't get enough

A few of the special things that as I parent I never seem to tire of:

~Sweet voices lifted in song.
~Peals of unreserved laughter.
~New words, carefully pronounced.
~Being called "Muver."
~"I love you Mama." "You're nice." And "I like you, Mama."
~"I'm glad you made it."

~Little toes, wrinkled from the bath, dirty from play, or thumping across the floor.
~Small yet sturdy hands nestled in mine.
~Complexity of color and depth of expression in blue and brown eyes.
~Curls and cowlicks.
~"I missed you!"
~Brothers playing sweetly together.
~Big hugs and sticky kisses.

~Sleeping boys, noise and motion for a moment stilled to relaxed forms, even breathing, peaceful faces.
~Sweet just-awakened smiles.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

wedding gifts and custom order

I've been needing to make a couple more of my personalized I Corinthians 13 calligraphies for wedding gifts. Receiving an order for a third I Corinthians 13 piece from my shop gave me the motivation to get right on it and finish all three last week.

This one is for a dear friend who is getting married in June. I wanted to work ahead on this gift because I really won't have much spare time when the wedding comes around since Little Man is the ring bearer, and I'll be doing wedding photography. I love how the distressed frame and damask-like patterned paper came together with a look that I'm certain will suit them to a T. (Just wait until I show you some of their wedding photos, and you'll see what I mean!) Plus I know that they have taken I Corinthians 13 to heart and made it their theme passage as a couple, so I know they'll be blessed by the message.

While each of the three pieces that I made has subtle variations and takes on a "feel" of its own, it would be rather tedious to post many photos of all of them. That said, the names are all completely unique, so I thought I would post photos of each of them.

Their names fit so nicely together...

This was for my special order. My customer requested that I add their three children's names as well since (in her words) "they are just as much a part of our love as we are." Isn't that sweet? I also had to smile in delight when I realized that their daughters' names are Melody and Cadence, two musical names. I find myself praying that God will use my art to bless and encourage their family even though I don't know them.

This final one is for Benjamin's cousin and his new wife. Their wedding invitation came addressed in copperplate which made my heart beat a little faster and my whole day brighter. It was so lovely; I will certainly be saving that envelope! Anyway, it made me wonder if she is also a calligrapher. Whether or not she is, I hope they enjoy the beauty I'm sending their way like I enjoyed the beauty they sent to me.

Linking up to Jennifer's studio sneak peek even though I wrote this one Tuesday instead of Friday. Maybe one of these weeks I'll actually be more on the ball and time it correctly. ; )

Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Man's culinary creation

I am proud to present to you Little Man's very first culinary creation! He made up the recipe and then helped me implement it.

Applesauce-crowned Gingerbread

~1 batch of your favorite gingerbread (We used The Joy of Cooking's Applesauce Gingerbread recipe. We also like their Old Fashioned Gingerbread recipe.)

Cut cooled gingerbread into squares. Spoon applesauce to taste over each square. Drizzle with syrup. Enjoy!

monday menu

Well, our week of experimental ovo-lacto-vegetarianism went very well. We did cheat on the last day, though, because it was a cold, snowy day, and I really wanted meaty chili for dinner. Well, that plus I had taken the glucose test to check for gestational diabetes the day before, so my blood sugar levels were still acting a little crazy, and I wanted plenty of protein.

This week chicken is on sale, and we still have lots of beef in the freezer. I'm looking forward to planning a meaty menu again. : ) Here's what I'm cooking:

M-My mom is planning this meal. So far all I know is that we're having steaks.
T-barbecue chicken sandwiches
W-chicken cacciatore
Th-chicken lettuce wraps (I've been craving these like crazy!)
F-roast beef, rice and gravy, vegetable

What are you cooking this week?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

i am commanded to
"Be still,
and know that I am God."

i am given the option to
"Cast your burden upon the LORD
and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."

and Jesus pleads with me
"Come to Me,
all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

so why
do i cling to my worries and fears
nourish my discontent
indulge anxiety
engage in frantic-paced days
allow myself to be upset
and distracted from what matters most


it is not
so hard to let go
to offer empty hands
and peaceful heart
as i make myself believe

not when i have His help

i lift my voice in praise
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

for my niece

Ever since my first niece (the daughter of Benjamin's oldest brother) was born a few months after Little Man arrived, I've been enjoying making fun and girly projects for her. When we found out that Benjamin's second brother and his wife are also having a little girl who is due to arrive in June, I was thrilled to have another little niece for whom to make girly things. The fact that I'm having a little girl of my own hasn't diminished my crafty enthusiasm.

I have a couple more things I'd like to craft for this newest niece before I mail her package, but here are the things I have completed already.

When I saw a cute little sunflower-adorned baby hat on Etsy, I just knew I had to make one similar for this niece. Her mama can pull off a cute hat like no other plus she loves sunflowers, so the combination seemed like a match made in heaven.

I had so much fun finding the hat pattern, perfecting my alterations to make it just what I envisioned, and making up my own sunflowers pattern. It quite lives up to what my brain envisioned.

The second gift that I have already completed is a blanket very similar to the one I made for Brother. I love having the warmth from the two layers of flannel without the bulk that batting adds. Plus the simple construction (just ten pieces) makes for a blanket that goes together quickly.

I hope my new little niece will get lots of use from the things her Aunt Christina loves making and (perhaps more importantly) that my sister- and brother-in-law will enjoy them too.

Friday, April 8, 2011

new van + daddy's helpers

One significant part of our recent lives that I have failed to mention here was our search for and acquisition of a new-to-us mini-van. My trusty little car (the one I've been driving since I was sixteen) died a sad death in early January, leaving us with only one car and the knowledge that finding a mini-van that would fit our growing family was no longer a back-burner project.

Now, searching for an affordable car in good condition with low mileage is not a piece of cake. Especially since we live in a small, remotish community in which the used car options are not plentiful. It's a long story, but here's the shortest version I can come up with:

We found what we thought would be the perfect van for us at a dealership only an hour away only to be disappointed by a pushy salesman and a refusal to sell us the vehicle we wanted at the advertised price. Instead, he tried to push a vehicle we didn't want down our throats (not literally, of course). We were very disappointed. Weeks later we were about to go back and agree to pay the unreasonable price since nothing else had come up. Much to our surprise, though, we found another van at a different dealership that we had somehow missed in our earlier search. They were eager to get it off the lot before the end of the month, and so we got a much better van for a much better price along with much better treatment from the salesman and company in general. The only con, really, was having to drive three hours to get it instead of one, something we were glad to do considering what we got.

I still marvel at God's wonderful provision for us. He answered so many prayers through the whole process and gave much wisdom. I'm deeply grateful.

I'll finish with a few photos I snapped of the boys helping Benjamin wash the new van. They were very zealous (though sometimes impulsive) little helpers and with some more experience will soon be pros at helping wash the car.

[Little Man loved using the hose to spray it off.]

[all three of my guys hard at work]

[Brother was happy to get in on drying it]

Now we're all ready to transport our growing family more than comfortably. Bring on the soccer-momming, I say. : )

Thursday, April 7, 2011

more crochet love

I am not the only one who is crazy about crochet around here. Little Man seems to have caught my excitement. After sitting in my lap one day and gripping the hook with me, he decided to try it himself. He'll ask enthusiastically: "Mom! Can I crochet?" Most the time I say "yes" because he's very careful, and he sits down, grips the crochet hook and baby hat with a great deal of intense concentration, and mutters something like "loop, hook, go around, grab here" as he stabs the hat with the hook.

He's very cute. And since he's also pretty smart, I suspect that one of these days, I'll pick up my work only to realize there are a few random stitches that I did not put there.

Oh, and just to keep it real, I have already had him come to me guiltily and confess: "Mom, I cut your yarn." Fortunately the damage was minimal, and we both learned from the experience.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

crochet love

Ever since I learned to knit, I have liked knitting more than I liked crocheting. However, the recent experience of spending hours working on a sweater (counting, looking up techniques on YouTube, ripping out, and trying again and again) yet having to abandon the project due to choosing a bad pattern has left me extremely discouraged about knitting. I just feel tired of basic scarfs and washcloths yet frustrated and overwhelmed about moving on. I'm sure I'll come back to knitting someday since I really do love so many aspects of it, I'm just (like I said) discouraged.

In the meantime, however, I have discovered (to my surprise!) that I can successfully read and implement simple crochet patterns. Being able to just pick up the tools I had on hand and make something lovely and quick and successful with yarn has done wonders for my confidence, and I've been really enjoying crochet these days!

It all started while I was searching Etsy for cute, handmade baby girl accessories. You know, just because I'm going a little crazy here about the girl stuff. I found all these adorable crochet hats and was even considering purchasing one/some until I gulped at the $25-$30 price tag. Now I know that it's not an unreasonable price to pay for something handmade, but considering that I could hand make it for so much less...

Long story short I signed up for a Ravelry account, found some fabulous free baby hat patterns there, bought some cotton yarn, and went to town. I have since made many baby hats. They're quick and fun (I can make one in an evening), and I can give them as gifts or sell them at farmers' market this summer. Here are a few that I've completed so far:

[this one will probably be for Sweet Pea]

[the little boy hats are cute too]

[I like this fluffy white one with a pink border.]

[one of several crochet flowers that I love to make]

[my second crocheted baby hat ever]

I have already gifted one of these cute little hats and am continuing making them at break-neck (well, at least arm-cramp) speed. I'm sure you'll see a few more as time goes on. Plus I even became oh, so bold and began a tiny pink sweater for Sweet Pea. We'll see how that one goes...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

eucharisteo calligraphy

Mum has been reading the book One Thousand Gifts to me (no, I haven't outgrown listening to her read, and I hope I never do). In it the author shares her story of finding true and lasting joy through giving thanks to God in every part of life--not only the sweet, lovely times but also the messy and even hideous ones.

The entire book has been a deep encouragement to me, impacting my point of view profoundly, sending me searching to perceive the world through lenses of Divine perception rather than the blur of human reasoning. I wanted to capture something of this awakening in my word art. Something to crystallize my thoughts, to remind my forgetful heart of what I learned. This is what I made:

As the book explained, the Greek word Eucharisteo means to give thanks. Its root word is grace, which is etymologically linked with the word joy. I used dark grey water colors to write the rough outline of the Greek word "eucharisteo" forming the background for the English words "Grace," "Thanks," and "Joy," which I made in three fonts with various pens and ink.

It is a strong visual reminder to me that giving thanks to the Great Giver through the grace He gives results in deep, inexplicable joy. It transforms places of messy, overwhelming chaos into havens of beauty and order.

Grace. Thanks. Joy. I am grateful for the taste I have already been given and strain eagerly ahead for more.


Last week I did some much needed organizing in my craft area. It felt so good to organize my fabric, get rid of pieces and scraps I will most likely never use, and put away the miscellaneous tools and left over bits of projects that had accumulated. Between cutting out bibs from my collection of old pants (I cut out 34 bib fronts from them!) and getting rid of the excess denim, removing and saving only the usable sections of wool from my collection of old suit coats, and getting rid of that big bag of fabric, my fabric now all fits in six medium boxes and on a small shelf!

I'm very pleased with my tidy work area and have already been putting it to good use. (Project photos to come!) Hopefully my zeal for cleaning, organizing and downsizing will not stop with my project area, though I suspect it will stall for a little while as I do some more enjoying of the cleanliness of this part of my house.

Monday, April 4, 2011


look at what I found
while I was out thrifting last week

it's a pink miramar casserole dish
produced sometime
in the 50's

since it only cost me a few cents
i decided to get it in spite of a few chips
later i discovered
that a chip-free one on Etsy
costs $35
so i feel quite delighted
with my bargain

price aside though
i simply love it
it's cute and small
with such delightful details
and is tinted just the right shade of pink

monday menu

This week we are going to try the interesting experiment of ovo-lacto-vegetarianism. There is no deep philosophy or lifestyle conviction behind this experiment, and it will probably not last longer than a week or possibly two. We simply thought it would be interesting to try something new. All that said, here's what we're cooking! My mom chose Monday and Thursday's dinners, and I planned all the rest.

M-orange scented chili
T-pancakes, omelettes, fresh fruit
W-fresh pita bread with hummus and assorted veggies
Th-warm quinoa and roasted vegetable salad with tuscan beans and green
F-wild mushroom pasta with broccoli

What are you making this week?

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I began writing this post a loooong time ago (last November, to be precise) and never got around to finishing and publishing it. For now I've moved on from making flower pins, but I'll come back to them. In the meantime, here are the ones I made last autumn.


Guess what. I love making fabric flower pins. They are so quick and fun, and they're the perfect hand-sewing project for those moments when I don't have time or energy to deal with the sewing machine.

I've been excitedly making left over fabric scraps that I would have thrown away into flowers, flowers, and more flowers. Most of them I attach to a pin.

Some the tiny flowers, though, I attached to itty-bitty hair clips for baby shower and first birthday gifts for friends' little girls.

And then I couldn't resist making some larger flower-embellished hair clips to give to my cutie-pie niece for Christmas.

And then I made a bunch more from upcycled wool scraps and bits of yarn. (Oh, and a random carnation-y one out of flannel.)

These quick flowers are so fun to make, and I can think of so many uses for them that I find myself quite addicted.

Friday, April 1, 2011

journey images

Little Man spontaneously began calling our recent 2,000 mile road trip to Oregon a "journey," which I thought was quite appropriate. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip. (Ahem, uh, what I mean is that this is a long, photo-y post; please bear with me.)

ducks (those black specks)
on the Columbia River

just one fragment of the stunningly beautiful Columbia River Gorge

Little Man was thrilled to watch the big equipment
that was working just across the street
from one of our lunch stops.

barn and trees

Little Man and Grandma
at an elk view point
near Elkton, Oregon
(who would have thought?) : )

Grandpa and Brother at the elk view point.
(I used to ride like this when I was much smaller;
brings back memories.)

lopsided bull at the elk viewpoint
(hooray for long camera lenses!)

Little Man and Grandma at the Pacific Ocean

Brother and Grandpa and the Pacific Ocean
(It was Brother's first exposure to the ocean; he loved it!)

Sweet Pea and me at the ocean.

walking back to the car

drift wood

bridge beams

two of my friend's tiny goats
(these little fellows were just four days old)

Brother was enchanted.

Little Man loved them too.

boat and bridge on the Umpqua River