Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Legend of Captain Danvers

Cross post from Leaning Tree Acres
© 2012 by Stacy Christian

The Legend of Captain Danvers 

Listen close and I’ll tell you the tale
Of Danvers, the pirate Captain,
Of how he made his foes do his will,
And how thoroughly he tricked them.

He wore a silk coat, as black as night,
A plume on the brim of his hat.
His boots thumped on the deck of the ship,
And when he spoke, well, that was that.

His crew was a surly pack of dogs.
His first mate, one Mister Lendri.
Together they ruled the amber waves
In their ship, The Collar’d Lady.

For years, they terrorized hill and vale,
Burnt villages down to embers,
And as they hauled their loot out of town,
People would gasp, “It was Danvers!”

Finally one day, to stop the scourge,
The people struck him a bargain:
To Danvers they’d tithe from field and farm,
But ‘specially from the garden.

They stocked his ship’s hold with produce ripe.
His logic: “To stave off scurvy.”
His crew refused to argue with him,
They’d rather eat veg than go hungry.

This would have gone on for years, I’m told,
Except there was a mutiny,
Begun by a fateful night visit
To his captain by Mr. Lendri.

He’d entered the room without a knock,
A thing that was not his habit,
Discovered his captain quite hatless,
And learned Danvers was a Rabbit!

 *extra Cudos if you "get" the Danvers reference without googling it. =:)

Friday, November 2, 2012

TP Your House (Fake Pumpkins IV)

M saw these at her piano teacher's house and had to add them to our Fall decor To-Do list.

  1. Wrap rolls of toilet paper is Fall patterned fabrics.
  2. Shove a stick in the center to hold the fabric in place and create a stem.
If I'm not careful, I'm going to get used to these Slacker Crafts. I don't know what's better~knowing that I can quickly pull these apart and just store the fabric until next year, or knowing exactly with what I'm decorating my house, right under everyone's noses.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Read Any Good Gourds Lately? (Fake Pumpkins III)

Another idea we stole from Pinterest. The original instructions are HERE.

~This seems like a perfect way to use those old blades, but it's more work. A sharp exacto works much better, but expect to dull the blade quickly.
~It works better to keep the book closed and use the pages that you've already cut as a guide. If you open the book to move the finished pages out of your way, be sure to use the template as your guide. Otherwise, there is a tendency for each layer to get smaller and smaller as you go.
~You can always trim up uneven edges once the basic shape is done. Unless you like the rough, messy look.
~I used a cheap ink pad to color the edges of the pages. I just fanned the closed book slightly and rubbed the ink pad along the edges from both directions. I don't have the patience to wait for paint to dry.
~Books with supple bindings work much better than books that crack apart as you bend them. If you have a small dowel that you can shape the binding around, it helps the pages spread more evenly. The pumpkin in the photo is the only one that we were able to get to look alright.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jug-O-Lanterns (Fake Pumpkins II)

Our next super easy pumpkin craft comes from...well, all over the internet.

1. Wash and save as many gallon milk jugs as you like.
2. Paint the lids green.
3. Use a permanent black marker to draw faces on the jugs.
4. Fill with colored water. Our orange is 35 drops yellow, and 6 drops of red in each gallon of water.
5. Before displaying, drop an orange glow stick inside (admittedly, this was not very impressive. We're still tweaking the glowing part. Since electricity and water don't play well together...).

It has already occurred to M that we don't have to stick to orange. Purple and green would be cool too.
I love that these use recycled materials (mostly), are frost proof, won't rot and can be emptied on the garden when we're done with them. We found a 12 pack or orange glow sticks at Michael's for $3.
A local farm stand wanted $4.25 for a gallon sized pumpkin. That makes me love these even more.

Since there are no sharp objects involved, and messing up just means using the other side of the jug--or getting a new one--even a 2 year old (or 40 year old with no salvageable drawing skills) could make these.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fake Pumpkins I

M has decided that we need to make decorations for this fall. I sigh in resignation, but realize that she is right, too. Even though Autumn is my favorite time of year (at least until Spring comes), I have almost no embellishments for that season. The cinnamon broom that gave me migraines got chucked within days.

Seasonal crafts abound, but we're going to challenge ourselves to use items that we already have on hand, or are cheaper than dirt. And we're going to major on pumpkins this year, but buying real ones is out of the question.

Enter our first Fake Pumpkin project, and quite possibly the easiest craft idea on the planet (unless, of course, you have to crawl all the way to the back, under the basement stairs where the canning supplies are stored, like I did). It requires no special skills, equipment, or even crafting, for that matter.

Zip tie old canning jar rings together and stick a cinnamon stick in the middle. Ta-Da! That's it. You could stuff a piece of burlap or fabric in with the stem for a leaf if you wanted to get fancy. We might add a bit from our bittersweet vine later. I should probably wash the rings at some point too.

I absolutely adore this idea and admit without remorse that I stole it from Pinterest. The original idea is posted here: Junkin' Pumpkin but she got the idea from here: Funky Junk Interiors
I may have to try the wreath another time.

We've already gathered some other fake pumpkin ideas and will be posting them as we get them made. As long as M doesn't force me to make any more candles, we're good.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Single Sheet Folded Mini Book

M and I put together some folded mini books for our three sponsored boys this morning. We personalized them and added verses and stickers. If you don't have a sponsored child, don't fret. Uses for these folded mini books are only limited by your creativity (Logbooks, anyone?).

1. Start with a 12 x 12 inch sheet of card stock (it must be a true 12 inches). Three inches from the top, and three inches from the bottom, mark a  nine inch line from the left side of the paper, leaving the last three inches on the right side unmarked. In the center of the paper, mark a nine inch line from the right side of the paper, leaving the last three inches on the left side unmarked. I created a template with my first sheet so that I wouldn't have to draw lines on the other pieces. Once you have your lines marked, use a blade and straight edge to cut along the lines. Take your time to get the lines precise.

2. Next, fold the sheet in half, perpendicular to the cuts, making sure that you keep everything squared up nicely. Fold each edge back toward the center fold. When you are finished, you will have one "valley" fold in the center, and two "mountain" folds equidistant from the center. Again, take your time. It isn't hard, but the more effort you put into being neat, the better the finished product will look.

3. Now you have a strip 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold the width of the strip in half, and then fold each end back toward the center. At this point, it should be fairly obvious where you need to fold it to end up with a 3 inch square.

4. Now Decorate!

The final product, all folded up. As an incidental (well, not really) bonus, on the book we made for Edwin in Peru, the name of God is the first thing you see, from both front and back!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Better Pumpkin Bread

Now that the weather is cooling, we've pulled out the boxes of snuggly clothes and started flipping through fall food ideas. It's hard to resist a warm slice of Pumpkin Bread, but I cringe at the amount of oils and sugars in most of the recipes that I've seen. A new, healthier attempt is in the oven at the moment, but I'm being brave and posting the recipe before it's even finished. It smells delicious and I have no reason to believe that it won't be wonderful.

Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 c flour
2 1/4 t baking soda
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 c wheat germ
5 T butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
1 1/4 c canned pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease and flour a bread loaf pan. Combine ingredients well and pour into pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until wooden pick, inserted in center, comes out clean.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shall We Blanch? (1, 2, 3)

What would summer be without the ritual of putting up sweet corn? Less sticky, for sure. Having yummy corn all year (that still has all of the flavor in it) is worth the work though.

 From this (142 ears)...

 To this...

To this (18 fat quarts).

It irritates me that our society has vilified sweet corn to such a degree. So much of the world depends on corn and its cousins as a staple for life. Are we so much better than them that we can turn our noses up at the gift that God's providence has placed so ready to hand? I choose gratitude instead.

Of course we're having corn for supper! How silly of you to ask!

Summer Corn Chowder (recipe compliments of Midwest Living)

4 ears fresh corn (or 10 ounces frozen--about 2 cups)
14 oz can veg broth (I'll probably use chicken)
10 oz frozen green peas (or 12 oz edamame, lima beans, or 2 large bell peppers)
1 large onion, chopped
2 t fresh marjoram or oregano (or 3/4 t dried)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 can cream style corn
1 c. cubed ham
2/3 c evaporated milk
1 t worchestershire sauce
fresh marjoram or oregano for garnish

My corn is already cooked and removed from the cob, so I'm deviating from the recipe and sauteing the onion in a little olive oil. Then I'll add all the other ingredients and simmer about 10-15 minutes. If you want the full recipe, it's available in the July/August 2011 issue of Midwest Living). My hands are too sore to type all of it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Not So Mini

Early this spring, the girls and I designed and put together two miniature gardens. This isn't new to some of you, but for the rest, here is the short version.

M wanted a Fairy Garden, batted her eyes at Grandpa and obtained a used tractor tire. We aren't restricted by space, so while the scale is small, the overall gardens aren't so much. Some paint, a cubic yard of soil and one very tired Mommy later, we were planting. We chose a Fairy Tale theme for her fairy garden, and the three fairies are the story tellers. Many of the stations can be used to tell more than one story, so the girls can be creative as they play.

Not wanting to leave J out, but knowing that she doesn't want to have anything to do with fairies, we came up with the brilliant plan to create a miniature garden based on the clan territories of the cats in the Warriors book series by Erin Hunter (who is really 4 different people). Confused? Well, nevermind. It's plants and little cats. That's all you need to know.

Being the cheapskate that I am, we found ways to make more of the accesories for the gardens ourselves. Leftover cage wire is good for all sorts of things!
I managed to make mushrooms, but I don't think I have a future in sculpting.

I need to take another picture now that the plants have filled in the extra space. In spite of the drought, we've only lost one. The rest are overtaking the paths.
I wanted to do a Peter Rabbit-ish themed mini garden, but ran out of energy. Maybe next year.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Significant Numbers

Our lives are full of numbers. They are on our driver's license, library card and mailbox. The scale, alarm clock, speedometer and caller ID all reflect numbers that we may or may not want to see. Statistics, account balances, PINs...the list goes on. Numbers are inescapable (as my math begrudging daughters will attest).

Earlier this year I read David Platt's Radical. Which is exactly what it says--a book that suggests a radical way of "taking back your faith from the American Dream". In short, it proposes a way of focusing on a Biblical view of the world in which the Church demonstrates the values of God's Kingdom rather than those of the materialistic society around us. Toward the end of the book, a one year Radical Experiment was suggested . The items that stand out (without looking them up) are:
  1. Read the whole Bible.
  2. Pray for the whole world. I've prayed for the world, but usually in one lump sum. Platt recommends resources like Operation World and the Joshua Project. Both are organizations that break the world population down into specific people groups (by language, country, etc--these are people who take numbers to a whole new level), and outline methods for praying for the unreached people groups across the globe, ideally in a year's time.
  3. Commit yourself to the local church (community).
  4. Sacrifice financially for a specific purpose.
  5. Sacrifice your time outside your normal circle of influence (comfort zone). I think 2% was recommended, which works out to about 2 weeks.
While I am not going to review the book here, I will state that anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ should probably read it. It still remains to be seen where God will lead me because of its influence.
As I began praying, and thinking in a different way, a new kind of number surfaced. Untold numbers of people without food, clean water, shelter and the good news of Jesus Christ. Voiceless people in countless numbers who are victims of exploitation, trafficking, and abuse. The mind and heart quickly go numb at the scope of it all.
It's easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of people who need help and hope. But I'm reminded of the story of the lad walking the beach and throwing starfish back into the water because it mattered to the few he could save. Until very recently, I believed the story was just one of those anecdotes that gets passed around, used in sermons, and bloats with retelling. I now have a source to track down and may post about it later.
The point of the story is that no one can save every one, but that isn't a valid excuse not to try to help any at all. We can make a difference to a few, or even just one.

And so, on June 5th, a new number became significant in my life. It's a seven digit number that changed the way I look at everything. And I mean everything. It's my sponsor number through Compassion International.
In June, the rabbits of Leaning Tree Acres and I began sponsoring 9 year old Edwin in Peru. (The humor of using profit from rabbit reproduction to assist in the reproduction of the gospel is not lost on me.) We are also corresponding with Aseet in Bangladesh and Kwaku in Ghana, and are hoping to take on a little girl in the near future.
I never dreamed the effect that sponsoring would have on me. In one short month, I have gone from knowing vaguely that poverty is a problem to being aware every waking moment that these boys' lives are at stake. Disease, flooding, drought, and food shortage are daily issues that control their lives. I have the nerve to get upset when my internet isn't working fast enough. The contrast makes me ashamed. And it should.
I have begun evaluating every bite I take and every purchase I make, wondering what I can do to consume less and share more.
David Platt asks in his book, "What would it take?" The question does not have a designated direction. You are supposed to think of what you'd like to see accomplished (with what you've already read in the book in mind), and then ask what it would take to see that goal reached.
Well, as of this morning, there are 2133 children on the Compassion International site that are needing sponsors. And that is just one site of many.
What would it take to see that page empty?
Zero children in need would be a significant number, indeed.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Take a good look at the beautiful picture of Mt Rainier (more on that later). Breathe deep. Can you smell the crisp air? It has just a touch of Christmas in it. There is a Swainson's Thrush singing nearby. Ahhhh....
Now, does everybody have their calm face on? Good.

A fairly significant change is coming to this blog. Up to this point, I have tried to keep everything separate--a cubby hole for writing, a cubby hole for bunnies, a cubby hole for all things religious, and a cubby hole for everything else (here).
Except my faith isn't a cubby hole. It's the desk.
Even though I often fail, everything in my life is profoundly affected by what I believe about Jesus Christ. I cannot continue to pretend otherwise out of fear that I might offend someone. So this is fair warning. Proverbs 27:6 says "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." If we have bad breath, we want someone to offer a piece of gum to us. If we're dragging TP behind us, we want someone to step on it to save us from embarrassment. How much more then should we desire words of truth that lead to life and salvation?

Will there still be recipes, crafts, and other nonsense that keeps us from our chores? You bet.
Will there be bunnies? Yes, but only when I can't help myself. I plan to keep my business site separate still.
In addition, book reviews, short stories and bad poetry will also be found here instead of Sit, Stay, Write!
And finally there will be such topics as prayer, grace, church, sin, forgiveness, various charities and the like.
In other words, the only thing I'm avoiding from this point forward is Laundry.

I would love it if you would stay.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oooo, Look What I Found!

A nearly abandoned blog...just sitting here...waiting...all alone in the darkness of cyberspace...hoping to be loved again....

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spying on the Neighbors

This pair of Red Tails lives in the farm yard, but we seldom see them together. The last several mornings, however, they have been camped out in the tree over the swing set. The question remains: who was doing the spying and who was the object?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cat Butt Cake

Because "Cat with Less than Nine Lives Cake" is too much of a mouthful.

I guess when you are being "The Cat Who Walked By Himself", all places really are alike to you--including the middle of  my toasty warm apple spice cake.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In a Whirl

The Spinning Wheel glass mat is finally complete. I got distracted by baby bunnies for a few days (we have 7 new ones!), but managed to finish last night. This pattern was just rings and chains, nothing fancy, but there was nothing simple about it. Mary Konior's Tatting with Visual Patterns has proven an invaluable source beyond the patterns it contains. Her "Know How 2" instructions (especially the tip for opening a closed ring) are wonderful.

As mentioned before, I used the sample spool of thread from Handy Hands, "Jewels" (Lizbeth #113) in size 20 to create this piece. The last round was a little interesting to finish, but I really appreciated the straightforward joins, instead of having to do the flippy, avoiding-a-twisted-picot joins that so many patterns require. I used my larger Lacis shuttle, but had to renew the thread on the last round, which is even less fun when using the Continuous Thread Method. Next time, I'm going to over load the shuttle just a bit and should have enough to complete the piece without needing to add thread. It measures 4 1/4" in diameter and will be Motif #3 for the challenge.
Even though the colors are not quite American flag colors, it seems patriotic to me. And I know exactly what I'm going to do with it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Backwards Day

In spite of being carried forward with the rest of the world into a new year, I feel like we are moving backward today. Back to work, back to school, back to cooking and cleaning and avoiding laundry and all the myriad other things that are exactly like they were last year. How is that progress?
There is no point in committing to diets that I have no intention of keeping, or making grand resolutions that only incite my nature to rebellion. So, the plan for 2012 is the same as it has always been.
  • Trust in my Savior's love for us and look for the print of His grace on my life.
  • Emulate Him to the best of my ability by the power of said grace.
  • Repent when I fail and receive the grace of forgiveness.
  • Rinse and repeat.
Still with me? Back to tatting then.

The first pattern that I chose from my new books was Snowflake 2 in Festive Snowflakes & Ornaments for Needle and Shuttle Tatters, edited by Barbara Foster (hereafter to be known as the Snowflake Book). I made a mistake with the pattern, but I bet it will take you awhile to find it. ;) It measures a smidgen over 3 inches in diameter and was done with size 20 Lisbeth White (It can be assumed from this point onward that if it's white, it was done in Lizbeth size 20). This will be Motif #1 for the second go-round of the Challenge.
Strangely enough, it's January 4th here in Northern Illinois and there isn't a snowflake on the ground yet.

This is the little fragment called Anniversary Motif in Mary Konior's Tatting with Visual Patterns. I added some frosty blue seed beads that I had on hand, and love the results. It is 1 3/4 inches square.

This is the pattern "Maria" in Lene Bjørn's Tatted Bookmarks--cross-shaped. It needs a tassel still, but already measures 6"x4 1/2". I used size 10 Lizbeth in Christmas colors. This will be Motif #2 for the Challenge.

Still in progress is Spinning Wheel Glass Mat from Mary Konior's book. My in-laws purchased my Christmas present from Handy Hands, who included a sample spool of Lizbeth "Jewels" variegated thread (#113). I love the combination of colors, and this seemed the perfect way to try it. The pattern is not difficult, but apparently, my brain does not think in spirals because I'm still needing to pay close attention to the instructions even after completing 5 of the 9 repeats.

Onward. Allons-y!