Quilt: Fancy Forest WIP

I’ve been working for months and months on this quilt and I’m 5 blocks away from finishing it.  The pattern is Elizabeth Hartman’s’ Fancy Forest. I had it on my wish list to sew for ages and a couple of Christmas’ ago I broke down and bought myself the pattern. And then it just sat there. Last year at some point I decided I was going to finally start working on it and bought all the solids. All the prints are from my own stash of scraps.

I’ve already learned so much working on it, but I’m so ready to start putting it all together! The biggest lesson came yesterday when my new 1/4″ foot came for my sewing machine and here I am on the last group of blocks with this amazing tool I should have purchased a million years ago! That and realizing that it’s better to stand and piece this versus sitting and standing every two seconds have been my biggest lessons.

It’s not perfect by any means and I’m working out how to piece and cut and do it all as close to perfect as possible. But I love it and I’m so proud of it.

Reading: April 2018

The angels erupted in song yesterday when I finally put down the book David Copperfield and rejoiced that nearly 900 pages later I was finished. Whew. It was a doozy of a book and the longest one I’ve read in years. I’m so happy to have finished it (and for the most part enjoyed it), but I’m super thrilled to be moving on.

Finished

The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom
Seriously, the best book I’ve read in a while. This one has been on my “to-read” list for years and when it ended up as one of my book club books AND a book that I’m teaching this coming year I was beyond thrilled. It’s an amazing read for the mere story of it, but also for the conviction of it. When I start to look around and become annoyed or dismayed at my life – all I need to do is remember hers. This one is worthy of it’s own review post.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
This was good; not my absolute favorite but I’m not a personality guru either. I really enjoyed the first few chapters, but when she started in on all the different personality tests etc, it didn’t quite hold my interest. It is a great compilation of all the different personality type discussions going on and I do believe in at least being familiar with all the typings as being a helpful thing when trying to deal with people (especially those in your family).

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
To begin with, this is Dickens so it’s crazy wordy. I will say, compared the other Dickens I’ve read this one was definitely more light-hearted. There were places throughout the book where I actually laughed and I did enjoy many of the characters. Dickens is amazing at his ability to create memorable characters and it’s where his love of descriptions is so helpful. By the time you are done with the book you definitely have a very vivid picture in your mind of who is who. I will say the character of David was somewhat annoying. I absolutely loved him as a child, but then it was like he never grew up. From his child-wife to the blindness he carried throughout the book for Agnes (come on already!) drove my absolutely bonkers…and his infatuation with Steerforth! I will say that Dickens did a fabulous job leading up that whole story with Steerforth. I knew from the beginning that at some point David was totally going to realize what sort of goody-too shoes he was.

Caddie Woodlawn (Caddie Woodlawn #1)
The chick and I read this aloud and overall it was pretty good. I feel like it is so much a copy of Little House that I had a hard time getting through that. I don’t know that either of us is a huge Pioneer literature fan so I don’t think we will be continuing on with the series. But it was a good read aloud.

Currently

The Fledgling (Hall Family Chronicles #4)
This is our current read aloud. I picked this up last year when I knew we were going to study birds and we finally started it. So far we are only like 10 pages in, so the jury is still out on how good it will be.

Before We Were Yours by Windgate
My mom passed this off to me a few days ago and knowing I needed something “easy” after Dickens I figured I would try this.

Across Five Aprils
We are attempting to do a family read aloud of this book. It’s been on the list all year and one that I wanted both kids to read. I’ve never read it and the reviews are always great.

Fanny Crosby
This is a pre-read for me as the chick is reading it for school. It’s a biography of her life. She was blind and ended up being this amazing hymn writer; she wrote Blessed Assurance for one.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
The chick is also reading this for school. It was one of my favorites as a child and I’m still enjoying it; she’s not. 🙁

Orthodoxy by Chesterton
This book is making my brain hurt.

What’s Next?

I’m going to re-read Hannah Coulter, because the Circe Close Reads podcast is getting ready to read it in May and I love Wendell Berry so win-win. A friend recommended PJ Wodehouse to me, so I reserved some of those books. Our next book club book is The Good Earth by Buck (I think) so I will need to get my hands on that. I’m also hoping to start reading Steven King’s memoir on writing.

Homeschool: Trello Planning

 

Trello 2018 6th gr

We’ve been using Trello this year with my daughter as her way of keeping up with her assignments for the week. It has been an awesome addition to our schooling day and I wanted to share how we’ve used it and how I’m using it to plan for her 6th grade year. Above is a picture of the main Trello screen. My boards are at the top and her individual weekly boards are separated into the three terms that we form our schedule by. To be honest, we are still trying to figure out how to make the idea of three terms work for us with the rest of our schedule. I am hopeful next year I can do a better job at framing our term schedule into the rest of our commitments in order to have off weeks in between terms and also have exam weeks.

Trello 2018 6th gr

This board is a look at my daughter’s weekly board. I started out this year allowing her to move items around throughout her day. She couldn’t move them to another day, but she could modify where they were in her schedule. A few months into our year I realized that this was not going to work. She (and I) needed a more set schedule; enter the set times. The only thing that she is allowed to move around are the cards from the first column; which contain her reading assignments for the week. While she has a set time in her day where she goes and does that independent reading, she can choose which assignment.

One of my biggest struggles is keeping track of all the things I’ve pinned or saved in Pocket or just found on the Web. I’ve got all the boards set up on Pinterest, I save particular things to Pocket and I even started subscribing and saving videos via the Youtube app. But in the end, it was making my brain hurt trying to remember. I would come back to a Pinterest board or Youtube and realize I had totally forgotten the thing I had wanted to do. The more I learn about Trello, I’m realizing it will be the answer to that problem; especially as I start to plan for next year. I can create a board and include all the books I need to get from the library, all the videos I want to watch for a specific lesson and link websites – in addition to setting up checklists for hands on activities, narration prompts etc.

Trello 2018 6th gr

Above is a look at where I am as I plan for her 6th grade year. As I started to plan for 6th grade, I started out the way I normally do at Ambleside Online.  I went through all the artist, composers and poets I knew we were going to do (some from AO and some from Cycle 1 Classical Conversations), and at that point I went ahead and created checklists for each of those. I attached photos of the works of art, links to composers to listen to on Youtube and any books that I might need to reserve from the library.

Trello 2018 6th gr

We are using Beautiful Feet Ancient History for our history basis next year. So I went through each lesson in the guide and where there were links printed, I went ahead and linked them on the corresponding checklist. I put items on the checklist that I need to prep for and also what her assignments will be for reading.

Trello 2018 6th gr

I’m still figuring out how detailed to get with her literature readings at this point. I’m not sure if I will just use these boards as general information for each book and various activities or narration ideas or what. And I know that while all the information will be on the screen in one spot, my general outline will still be in the paper spreadsheet form that I used this year.

A little bit about us: The advent of May means the end to our third year of homeschooling our 5th grader and our first year of homeschooling our 8th grader. This means next year, I will have a middle schooler and a high schooler in the house. (enter shrieking). We are Classical/Charlotte Mason homeschoolers and I try to frame my day with a Charlotte Mason style outlook. We participate in Classical Conversations and enjoy immensely the community it provides us. My son is finishing up Challenge A and is entering Challenge I in the Fall (yes he is skipping a level – just email me if you want details on that decision). My daughter is entering her last year of Foundations/Essentials and we don’t know where we are going from here with her. To add to all that, I am going to be a Challenge B director next year (taking on the class that my son is leaving.)

Embroidery: New Pattern!

It seems like ages since I’ve worked on anything embroidery related. Once I finished up my last custom orders a few months ago, I had zero desire to pick up a needle and thread. It was by far the longest stretch I’ve ever gone with some sort of creative depression and just block. I did manage to work on a few things down in the studio, but the days of sitting and just enjoying stitching were not there.

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I decided last week to finally put out into the world this redraft of an old pattern that I made early in 2017 for a custom request. She really loved the Helen Keller quote, but wanted a design with mountains; so I drafted up this pattern for her and then it just sat on my computer. She sent me a photo of her stitching (super cute), but I had no interest in going anywhere else with it.

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In the end, I actually think this is a way better design than the original and it is a super pattern for beginners. It’s easy to trace, has some great stitches for beginners (backstitch, chain stitch and split stitch) and I’ve actually designed this pattern in two sizes – either for an 8-10″ hoop or a larger 10×10 square.

You can purchase your own copy here.

Happy Stitching!

A Heritage

My home growing up was filled with handmade items. We had quilts laying around that my grandmother had made. Every year my aunt sent us pillowcases that she had embroidered Aunt Martha’s designs on. My mother sewed my clothes on and off for years while I was younger. And up until she passed away, my grandmother Ida would come stay with us and I don’t think we had a visit where she wasn’t making things while she was visiting.

When I went to visit extended family, their homes too were filled with the same sorts of things. My grandmother’s home in Oregon was overflowing with things that she had made or other family members had made. I remember the back bedroom with this tiny little bed perfect for my 8 year old self. Overflowing from it were little handmade dolls and stuffed animals and other crazy creatures. The bedding, from the pillowcase to the bedcovers, were made by the hands of those that surrounded me in that house. But in those memories I don’t honestly remember my mom or grandmother sitting much with me in an organized fashion and sewing. Maybe I didn’t have any interest at the time. I honestly can’t remember. But I do know that this life surrounded by handmade things was very natural.

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Fast forward to today and I’m still surrounded by things that either I’ve made or things passed down to me and to my children. My daughter pulled out my old life size Annie doll – complete with all her matching clothes from the 1980’s movie. I sat there thinking about this doll and the connection that she is to a woman that I dearly miss. And I thought about this home that we’ve made for our children complete with a mix of things handmade and store bought.

I wonder at what point handmade things became this Pinterest thing and not merely a natural thing in our homes? At what point did life transition from making things as a fact of life to making things as a hobby or to be fashionable? When I was growing up it was not unheard of to have toys that your grandparents or even parents had made. It was becoming a little odd, but definitely not something that we felt like we needed to write up a tutorial for to share with the world. We’ve lost such a connection to making things as necessity that the necessity has become that we make a tutorial or a pattern or teach a lesson or find a class.

I’m thankful for this connection that I have to my past generations. And I’m thankful that making in our house has become a little more natural of a thing. Because that’s what making is. It’s not a skill that someone possesses and someone else doesn’t. It’s something that all of us are able to do. We are all makers and designers. Whether we make things with metal, fabrics or food.