October 26, 2011

all spiffy

Suits and ties have entered our closet once again! My brother and his fiancĂ©e are tying the knot just 3 short weeks from now, so my t-shirt and jeans man and I went on a little suit-shopping adventure. I love seeing Neal in a suit. I am biased I suppose, but he is just ever-so handsome. We found two suits that ‘suit’ him to a tee and fit so much better than the multi-decade-old ones that used to gather dust in our previous closet.

My favourite part was choosing ties to match the shirts he chose. These ties were the topic of a rather humorous conversation between us that evening, as Neal prepared to drop off paperwork for substitute teaching at a local school;

Andrea: The ties look great, they should match with just about anything...

Neal: Yeah, I like ‘em *winds ties around a hanger, still in their store-display un-tied loop*

the only problem is...  I don’t remember how to tie them...

Andrea: What?? You’ve worn ties before! *proceeds to list off the small handful of events she has seen Neal wear ties at - uses less than one hand to count...*

Neal: Yeah, but I always left them tied, I haven’t actually tied one for over ten years

Andrea: *starts laughing uncontrollably* You left them tied!? *more laughter*

Oh honey...

And then, as God likes to add humor to our lives, Neal is offered a part time teaching job at the very school he went to drop the paperwork off at. A school he really enjoys and appreciates. What is the dress code? Shirts and ties...

Better practice those knots my dear, it looks like you’ll need them for more than one occasion this year!

p.s. I am so proud of how patient you were with finding a job, and trusting God for His direction and His best. You were so right.

October 19, 2011

the beauty of God

This past week Neal and I headed up to Slave Lake for a long overdue visit with some dear friends and their kids. I have known each of their 3 littles from just days after they were born. I have had the privilege of watching a tiny baby girl grow into a 5 year old who attends Kindergarten. Privileged again when a lively baby brother joined their family 2 years later, and yet again just last year when the newest little man arrived. I have treasured the bond of being a special 'Auntie' to these little ones (and I think Neal enjoys being a special 'Uncle' too...).



These dear friends also lost their home in the wildfires and have just now settled into some temporary housing able to get them through the winter. We were able to bunk with them and spend some quality time with their family. Isn't this little man the sweetest thing?


Here's a peek at what we were up to...


My friend pulled out a cute fabric tent, and Neal snapped some shots, capturing our fun little play-time. Sitting in that tent, giggling away, something suddenly dawned on me;

I had a pic kinda like this on my blog... I remember posting it right before I wrote about Judah, just 2 days before the fire.

So I marvelled at the grace of God, tying these pieces of my life together in such an unexpected way.

I know you have lost, but just look at what is in your life right now. Look at who is in your life right now.

For the little man I play with now is almost exactly one year younger than Judah would have been.

These pieces of my life truly are a testimony to beauty from ashes. Time and time again. I have wondered, why those words? Why 'beauty from ashes' in regards to my miscarriage? Why 'beauty from ashes' when my home burned, the very day after blogging about the miscarriage from years eariler? I may never really know why events in my life unfold the way they do.

But I know one thing I can trust.
God does turn ashes to beauty.

Just look at it there,
shining in the eyes,
running deep in the heart.


And maybe, just maybe, I am learning to be content
with being a special Auntie
though I have no children of my own.

To treasure it, treasure them,
and thank God for these precious children in my life.

Maybe I'm more okay with the fact that God has chosen me
to walk this road,
despite some very strong desires to have my own children.

Maybe some great adventures lay ahead,
as I surrender and accept this time.
 What may I miss out on if I don't?

I'm not sure,
but I know
He is healing my heart.
I can and will continue to trust Him.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
...to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 
~ Isaiah 61:1-4 ~


Did I metion this little man's name is Isaiah?

I think I serve a very big God.
One who I can trust, knows so very much more than I do.

And this is the beauty He makes.

October 18, 2011

Rocket and the Tale of Little Miss Mouse


~ based on a very true story ~

It was the morning after Thanksgiving. Golden sunbeam fingers poked through the forest, spreading their light on two people preparing plants, flowers and shrubs for the oncoming winter. Rocket, the faithful farm cat, had just curled up for her second morning nap. After spending most of the morning begging for morsels of left-over turkey, Rocket slyly stretched out in a warm sunbeam. She gently closed her eyes thinking,

Ah, life is good.


Unbeknownst to Rocket, or her people, another little creature was making autumnal preparations, only in a different fashion. Little Miss Mouse began her day collecting seeds and pinecone husks for a late autumn snack. Nestled quietly in her home under the day lily Miss Mouse contemplated,

What a lovely autumn we are having. And what a lovely home I have made for myself under the sweeping protection of these full, slender leaves. And what a wise mouse am I, for choosing a home in which I am both protected and so near to an abundance of provisions. (Miss Mouse was quite enjoying her rather empty nest after raising a family of seven earlier in the spring).

Suddenly, there was a rustling in the outer leaves of Miss Mouse’s home.

SNIP! SNIP! SNIP!

What was happening? Miss Mouse was terrified by the sound yet, mustering some mouse-ly bravery, she scurried out to take a peek and see for herself just what was going on.

Rocket stirred on the porch and awoke suddenly, hearing a great commotion coming from the garden. One of her people shrieked and jumped back from a large day lily. This particular day lily just happened to be one of Rockets favourite sniffing spots (this should have told her people Something was in there...).


With jumps quite in defiance of her 16 years, Rocket sprung into action, diving and sniffing amongst the leaves.


Little Miss Mouse was nearing a heart attack, for a large, fur-ruffed face had come plunging into her home! Scurrying and burrowing further under the leaves, Miss Mouse thought to herself,

Perhaps I should make a run for it!

The large fur-ruffed face focused mainly around one side of the little mouse’s home. Miss Mouse speedily scampered off in the opposite direction. This life-saving action caused more shrieks from Rocket’s people as they picked Rocket up and pointed in Little Miss Mouse’s direction.


Alas, Rocket was too late (though it was not for trying). Little Miss Mouse found safety and shelter under the thick, rustly pinecone layer of an old blue spruce. Quite shaken by her ordeal, Miss Mouse firmly decided to stay under the cover of the pinecone husks until supper time.

Rocket gave up the chase and went in search of further adventure, felling quite young and spry again.


Sunlight faded, the garden was now quiet, and Rocket had long since left to enjoy her evening supper. Miss Mouse finally felt it was safe to return home. Yet upon her return, Miss Mouse was quite devastated to find her home had been completely shorn off.

With much dejection, Miss Mouse scurried back to the safety of the pinecone husks, and quite unfortunately, went to bed without any supper.

(I have always wanted to end a little animal tale with the protagonist going off to bed dejectedly without any supper, but I should probably save that for a naughty mouse.)

Alternate ending:
Considerably crumpled in spirit, Miss Mouse returned to the blue spruce bed. Her spirits lifted slightly as she thought,

My dear, dear home. Well, I suppose this new little hiding spot could make a fine place of rest for the winter.

And so, with spirits lifted and considerable determination, she set to work on her new home, vowing to keep an eye out for the cat with the ruffed face.


The End (or so we think...)

October 15, 2011

I heart horses

Mom and I took a stroll to the back fields to soak in a golden autumn afternoon.
As we crested the hills Mom suddenly froze and grabbed my arm, as her eyes fixed on 2 large black figures with long legs - MOOSE!
(She is a little jumpy after years of hearing Dad's moose hunting stories...)

Thankfully as we sheltered our eyes from the blinding sun, we quickly saw the neighbour's harmless horses and not said moose.

So I had a little visit with 3 gorgeous Quarter horses. Already growing some of their winter fuzzy-ness which turns them into big teddy-bears.


We used to raise Thoroughbred babies back in the hey-day of my teenage years on the farm. I didn't ride as much as I could have (Thoroughbreds are a little more high-strung than Quarter horses), but I loved spending time with the little ones, getting them used to being brushed and lifting their feet. Now our farm friends have been reduced to one little 16 year old farm cat, so I am so happy neighbours bordering our fields have horses and cows.

I may have ran back to the house to bring 3 juicy garden carrots to these darlings... I may be back there agin today to see if my fuzzy friends would like another visit (and perhaps another carrot...).

October 8, 2011

dear Neal

Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on us this year didn’t it? As I sat here to write a post on what I was thankful for, you just kept coming to my mind.

We have no home of our own, to decorate with leaves and banners or fill with smells of pumpkin pie or turkey. We are missing the little fur ball that curled up with us every night. We are job hunting.

Through all these things you have been a rock. Not in a hard way, not at all, but in a steady, faithful, ‘even though life is not what we expected - I’m still here’ kind of way. When my hope falters, you are there to remind me to have faith. When I can’t stop the tears you pull me in and tell me everything will be ok. When frustrations arise, you crack jokes at my response and help me to laugh at myself. Your sense of humour gets me through even the toughest of days. I have watched you persevere, trust, hope and wait. You inspire me. So much so, that in spite of all we have lost I can still be thankful.

I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful my life was spared so that I could spend this time with you. Every day, every moment is a gift. If we have nothing else, we have each other. And oh, what a precious gift.


October 6, 2011

today

was just one of those days, a day where i...


* burned my thumb trying desperately to baste a chicken in a slow cooker

* over-baked a batch of muffins and banana bread

* heard yet another pregnancy announced (is everyone else just a rabbit??)

* found out i did not get the job i interviewed for

* felt like eating chocolate ice-cream covered with chocolate sauce and a good measure of chocolate chips thrown in

* ate said chocolate chips and felt like if this continues i am going to have to buy bigger clothes

* tried to light the wood stove and filled the basement with smoke

Lord i hope tomorrow is better...

October 5, 2011

{ Onesie fun }

Oh, I was sooo tempted to title this post "Onesie Fun-sie" lol

Remember this from waay back in January? Cute little applique onesies? I never got around to it.
Until yesterday that is.

My cousin and his wife just welcomed a baby girl, so I seized the opportunity to finally delve into the onesie world and create something cute.

Instead of mourning my lost supplies, I took the opportunity to make a dash to Wal-Mart and stock up on some cute new fabric. I also wasn't going to let the lack of my craft-room stop me. Mom has a craft room too (and a sewing machine, a whole lot of experience and - I'm pretty sure - a cape that qualifies her as a sewing super-hero!)

Here's how it all started - new fabric (co-ordinating with their nursery colours), a pack of long sleeved Gerber onesies, a few ideas for designs on the mind and some cardboard and circle-objects to make patterns. (I just had to throw in the cute tiny jeans I found too).
Want to give it a try? Just follow along!


Using the large circle as a center, I set out to create a flower,


carefully cutting the fabric circles and laying them out until they were just... right...


Next came the fusible webbing, I just l-o-v-e this stuff - it's magic!


Now, the fun part, flipping the design carefully onto the onesie (in a somewhat centered way), and pressing it on high heat for 20 seconds.
(sorry I couldn't iron and take a pic at the same time...)

Then the scary part - sewing the edges. 

I confess I was terrified at this point, as the design looked so cute and perfect and I knew my sewing would ruin it.

Enter Sewing Super-Hero who helped find the right stitch, setting, length, width and all that goodness.

Then Inexperienced Sewer practiced sewing polka dots on an old t-shirt until she was confident enough to try it out on the onesie!


Now, if you are lucky enough to own a serger (and luckier still if you know how to use it well) then I'm sure this step won't terrify. For anyone learning to sew - do not fear - if I can do it you can too!


With that design now complete, I pondered my next move. Hearts to match the jeans? Naw, too matchy-matchy. How 'bout an owl? 

*note the illogical jump from easy to difficult? a little confidence can be a dangerous thing!*

Here is the owl in progress,


(all those grade one lessons on geometric shapes came in handy...)


Use the circles and trace them on your fabric, just like the flower (cut one of the larger circles in half for wings)


These brightly coloured cottons are awesome for tracing patterns as the colours show through so brightly on the back, making it easy to trace just where you want to. I also fused the pieces together with webbing where they overlapped so he wasn't so tricky to fuse on later.

A little paisley solved the question of the beak, now what to do about eyes?


A little yarn, 3 back-stitches each eye, and sleepy owl is ready for webbing and the iron.


Then he's ready to sew too! 
* a word to the wise: sewing this design was much trickier than the flower, circles are much easier to sew around than any straight lines *


He's a little rough around the edges, (aren't we all?), but still rather endearing.


Here they are - 2 happy projects, ready for a precious baby girl!

Ah, a little craftiness always soothes the soul...