Saturday, April 30, 2011

The very last day of April

We went outside this morning to find a glorious spring morning waiting for us.

The sun was shining brightly, the bright blue sky was cloudless, and there were crab apple blossoms floating down from the tree.

It was a welcome surprise after our mostly-dreary week. We've had every flavor of strange weather this week; cold rains, whipping winds, thundersnow^, sleet, and graupel^, just for starters.

Clementine spent last night with her grandparents and cousins. Dan and I had a quick breakfast together this morning. It was nice to talk and just sit together.

The two of us ran a few errands after breakfast. Then I went home and Dan went to get Clementine. He took her to her friend K's birthday party, where she got to swim and play and eat chicken and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones, each with their own candle. K's mom and dad made each child a mug with their name, K's name, and colorful balloons. Clementine was so proud of it when she brought it home. K's parents are very talented, creative people.

I stayed home, took these photos, and worked on a project (pictures when it's done). 

After they got home, we had a short nap, then dinner together. Clementine excitedly told me about her day, ate everything on her plate, and fell asleep before she made it to bed, a very rare occurrence indeed.

Now it's just the two of us again, sitting together on the sofa. When we last looked outside a bit ago, spring seems to have gone back into hiding. Snow was falling again, with more forecast for tomorrow.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Sunday

We had a quiet Easter this year. We stayed home and shared a delicious meal of ginger-marmalade ham (done in the crock pot), home-made gluten-free French bread, Hasselbeck potatoes, and chocolate truffle brownies. We were all grateful to be able to spend a peaceful day at home, especially after the busy week we'd just had. 

antique Easter image

As usual, it snowed on Easter Sunday, preventing us from playing outside or hiding eggs. Clementine has yet to see a snow-free Easter in her five years. This year, we planned ahead and are going to recreate Easter festivities with Dan's family this coming weekend. The weather is supposed to be overcast, but will hopefully cooperate and be snow-free so that we can hide eggs and celebrate with Spring-like temperatures. Either way, we're looking forward to spending time with Dan's parents, his sister, her husband, and Clementine's cousins.

 antique image

I decided a few months ago to make the toys for Clementine's Easter basket this year, but it took me till late last week to decide what to make, and I then spent most of last Saturday sewing. I managed to finish a pony and some bunnies. Nothing like waiting till the last moment, you know?

antique image

Dan did the cooking on Sunday, allowing me to finish the embroidery on the pony's saddle and bridle. I am so thankful to be married to a thoughtful, sweet husband who always encourages me to be creative. Dan is an excellent cook and did  a fantastic job with everything. The only thing I did this year was grocery shop, plan the menu, and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Clementine's Easter pony
Part of the reason it took me so long to start is that I decided to make the pattern for the pony from scratch. I've made simple toy patterns before, but this was most complicated by far. Made from wool felt, the pony is hand sewn, has several gussets, lined ears, and though you can't see them in the photos, cute little hooves. The saddle and bridle are brown wool felt, embroidered with daisies and French knot flowers in several colors of floss.

 Easter pony with carrots
The pale orange carrots are long triangles with green felt fringe at the top - I don't use a pattern for small items like these and so each carrot is slightly different. I left the threads from the floss about an inch long at the end of each carrot to represent the rootlets at the ends of real carrots.

 bunnies bunnies bunnies!

The bunnies are from a pattern I've had for several years, not my own - I'm not sure where it originated, but it became separated from the directions at some point, and I have a feeling that I placed one of the gussets incorrectly. I think now that it should have gone in the head, not along the back. If I make them again, I'll definitely try placing the gusset in the head and seeing if that makes any difference. The green bunny is the only one made with acrylic felt. I used acrylic to test the pattern since I didn't have any directions and didn't want to waste wool if I got it wrong. Which I probably did anyway.

Clementine loves them though, which is all that really matters.

the bunnies and their carrots

I found several yards of wool felt at the thrift store a while back, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that I'd be making toys with it. Clementine always responds well to toys made from wool - it holds the warmth from little hands and feels so nice and soft.

flowers on the saddle

Since she received the pony and bunnies, Clementine has played with them non-stop. There is something special about home-made that resonates with children and I've been asked to make several more ponies for her stable. I guess I'd better get busy.

the pony, the bunnies, and their carrots

the pony and her carrots

I hope you had a blessed, joyful Easter.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


There is an old Zen proverb that says, Before Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.

Courtesy of Morguefile, from here^

Sometimes I think it speaks to the fact that regardless of the state of our being, the simplicity of manual labor feeds our souls.

 Courtesy of Morguefile, from here^.

Other times, I think that it speaks to the idea that through simple, repetitive tasks, we might find clarity of thought and mind and perhaps eventually reach enlightenment.

Courtesy of Morguefile, from here^
And then there is the possibility that it refers to something else, something we can't yet see in our unenlightened state of being.

Courtesy of Morguefile, from here^

What I am positive it does not refer to is laundry. Dan and Clementine and I have washed, dried, hanged (hung?), folded, and stored four loads of laundry this evening in an effort to catch up and possibly even get a bit ahead this week since we have weekend plans. Clementine protested loudly and at great length about the unfairness of it all. The only thing keeping me from whining is my tenuous grasp on propriety. Dan is stoic, taking it like a man. 

Courtesy of Morguefile, from here^

Who cares about flying cars. How about some self-cleaning laundry? 

Aerocar, image courtesy of the LOC^


Monday, April 25, 2011

Lest We Forget... Anzac Day

Our most heartfelt thanks to those who gave everything so that others could live in peace.

For the Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

~ Laurence Binyon ~

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile, from here^