Bits of Stolen Fluff

At a recent Bible study, a friend shared a story of her young daughter who had taken a pair of scissors and cut up the comforter on her bed.

When my friend discovered the damaged quilt hidden under another blanket, she was not happy! She shook her head in disbelief and asked,”Why? What were you thinking? Why would you cut up your comforter?”

Her daughter responded, “Because I needed the filling inside to make a pillow for my dolly.”

My friend was beyond frustrated as she thought of all the batting she had just down the hall in her craft room! She had an abundance of what her daughter needed! It was just sitting there, ready to be used!

But her daughter never asked.

Instead, she took things in her own hands and did irreparable damage to a comforter.

She was left with a pillow that would not last. It was just a folded handkerchief stuffed with bits of stolen fluff instead of the beautiful, pillow that her mother could have helped her make.

After we had all laughed and commiserated with this mom, I immediately thought of how often we act just like this young daughter.

We see a need, whether real or imaginary and instead of going to our heavenly Father with that need, we take matters in our own hands.

We cut and paste and scheme, leaving behind a trail of damage and hurt and frustration.

Our feeble efforts are never are good or as eternal as the ones we leave to God’s hands.

They are just bits of stolen fluff wrapped in our own devises.

Our Heavenly Father has everything we could ever need.

All we have to do is ask.

 

 

 

A Day Late….

You’ve heard the saying “A day late and a dollar short”.

That is the story of my garden.

But then again, it can’t be the story of my garden because technically, my garden does not yet exist.

I knew – at least in my head – that early spring things need to be in the garden in the early spring. But I think the snow and cold lulled me into a false security, which left me woefully unprepared for the warm weather.

Of course my Amish neighbors were ready. When the sun finally broke through and the grass greened up, they watched their peas and lettuce burst out of the ground. They threw open their cold frames to reveal beautiful cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower plants.

They didn’t worry too much about the current weather, they knew that eventually spring would come.

And they acted accordingly.

Meanwhile, my garden remains untilled, my seed packages are sitting in the basement and my fresh lettuce salads live only in my dreams.

Somehow I lost sight of the fact of tomorrow in the midst of living today.

I forgot that winter doesn’t last forever. Spring happens. Always.

As I busied myself playing catch-up in the garden the last few days, I wondered just what other areas in my life have I been lulled into thinking that things would never change?

Are there relationships that need to be restored?

Forgiveness that needs to be extended?

Bad attitudes that need to be weeded?

Encouragement that should have been given?

Those cold dark season of life won’t last forever.

Let’s plant those seeds and wait.

Spring will come.

Always.

 

 

The Cow Whisperer

It’s never a good thing when the phone rings at 7:30 in the morning and you learn that your cows are out.

Your routine gets tossed to the side as you scramble into clothes, go to the bathroom (just in case), grab your coat and head out the door in the rain.

I was very thankful Nate was home to help as we drove down the gravel looking for the renegade critters. We quickly spotted them in the neighbor’s hay field and Nate hopped out to chase them home while I sat in the heated van thinking how well that had turned out for me!

My warm, dry wait quickly changed when a neighbor pulled up to tell me that there was another group heading down the gravel to the east.

I looked around for help, but saw only myself, so I headed out to round them up solo.

You may remember that several of my attempts to chase cows by myself have not ended well. But this time would be different. At least that’s what I told myself as I rounded the corner and saw the four varmints running down the road. I drove ahead of them, stopped the van and prepared for battle.

The goal was to get them turned up the dirt road that would lead straight to the pasture. Sounds easy right? Not. Those cows went every other way possible. I was almost in a panic when a young cowboy in a pick-up truck pulled up.

“Them your cows?”

I thought to myself. “Of course they’re my cows! Why else would I be standing on the side of the road in the rain wearing mismatched clothes and soaked to the skin at 7:30 in the morning?! ”

But I answered with a simple, “Yes!”

He replied, “Need some help?”

Help?! Oh glory yes! Yes, indeed!

He went from smart aleck to super hero with those three simple words.

Then he got out of his truck, stood at the end of the dirt road and pointed while making a strange sound like maybe a “yuuu-up”

And believe it or not, those renegade cows turned right into the road and trotted down as docile as anything!

A perfect stranger and they did whatever he wanted!

Was it the cowboy boots?

Maybe the “yuu-up”?

Or is it that they just don’t like me?

Whatever the reason, I was thankful!

Even more so when that Super hero walked the entire mile to the pasture with me in the rain! When they took off for the tree line instead of heading to the gate he simply said, “Bet that’s where they got out. Funny, they can usually find it right back.”

Maybe for you Mr. Cowboy, but if it was just me, we’d still be running in circles around the neighbor’s muddy field.

Sure enough, all four ran up to a spot in the fence and squeezed back through.

Then they headed back to the rest of the herd, but not before taking one more look back at me and the Cowboy.

And I’m pretty sure they winked.

Varmint cows.

 

 

 

Vintage Eats

I love history and I love food, so I was thrilled to inherit the recipe files of my husband’s great Aunt Olive.

Since Aunt Olive and Uncle Torry had no children, many of their things passed to Jan’s parents, and some of those on to us.

As I sorted through the hundreds of recipes, I felt like I had stepped back in time! Vintage recipes that were clipped from newspapers offered everything from pie making tips from the “Lady of Rose Cottage” to prize winning molasses cookies that included hot mashed potatoes and raisins. (The prize was a princely sum of $5!)

Those yellowed and fragile clippings included practical house hold tips such as how to use kerosene to clean a copper vessel and how to quiet an alarm clock that is too loud. (You put a rubber band around the bell.)

I discovered multiple recipes for organ meats – including beef liver, pork liver loaf, and even one for ” liver and spaghetti en casserole”.

But the one that really made me laugh was the one titled, “Serve Tongue Saucily” with a recipe for beef tongue and horseradish sauce.

I won’t be making any of those any time soon!


I will also not be making any of the varied and abundant recipes featuring prunes. These include prune pudding, prune cake, prune bread, prune whip, spiced prunes and even – I kid you not – a handwritten recipe for “Ice Box Prune Ice Cream”.

No. Just no.

How about some Romance Cookies? Or Blueberry Boy Bait? There’s Spanish cake with Sea Foam frosting, Grape Catsup, Pumpkin Pickles, and Dr. Mayo’s recipe for Arthritis.

I found four identical handwritten recipes for Knute Nelson’s US Senate Bean Soup.  There’s a political joke there – but I’m refraining.

Then there are the family recipes: “Mother’s Plum Pudding” and a recipe for Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls that needed 3 cards to get the details down.

The other 3 card recipe was for Swedish Kringla. That along with the various recipes for Lefse, coffee cake and ginger cookies showed Aunt Olive’s desire to keep her Scandinavian husband happy.

But the treasures I enjoyed most were the little glimpses of daily life that somehow got caught up in the recipes. Like the note and receipt from her favorite blueberry grower.

And most of all the little handwritten note from Olive to Torry simple saying “I’ve been called to a neighbor’s. Back soon, Olive.”

It must have been picked up with a recipe that was out and ended up in her massive collection.

Which now, years later, has become a reminder that these aren’t a random assortment of recipes; these were all collected by someone. Hand picked, chosen for some particular reason. They are a glimpse into Olive’s life, a snapshot of her culinary tastes, her lifestyle, her memories.

I wonder what future generations will think of my massive collection of recipes?

But one thing is for sure – they won’t find any for organ meats.

Or prunes.

Just saying.

 

A Mountain of Material

Nate and I had spring break last week. While he spent time with family in Des Moines, I spent the week in my happy place.

I quilted.

I cut and pieced and played with fabric all week!

There were quilt squares in the dining room, rotary cutter and mat in the living room, and bits of fabric and thread everywhere!

It was fabulous!

I was 50 blocks into a scrap quilt when it hit me – this should be my first ever full size quilt!

No little lap quilt or twin size – I was going big!

I got pretty excited – until I did the math.

Then I realized that it would take 120 blocks to complete this quilt.

That equals 120 – 4.5 inch squares, 120 – 5.5 inch squares, 480 – 2 7/8 inch squares, and 480 – 2.25 inch squares. That’s 1200 different pieces – all individually cut and then sewn together.

Oh my.

Then I will need to sew each of those 120 squares together to make the quilt top.

And after I baste it, I will then hand quilt all 120.

Gulp.

This could be a three year project. Or more.

What kind of a crazy person would cut out that many little pieces of fabric just to sew them back together again in a different pattern?

Um, that would be me.

Is it the colors? The textures? The creative process?

Or maybe it’s just the joy of making something that will last.

Whatever it is – I’m in deep.

If you need me, you will find me sewing my way out of a mountain of tiny pieces of material!

And smiling.

 

 

 

Showing My Age

I had a birthday last month, but honestly, I didn’t feel any older. At least for awhile.

Three days actually.

Then on Sunday I as was working with the youth group at church, one gal noticed the old-school rotary telephone still hanging on the wall in the kitchen.

She got really excited.

“Is that a real phone?! How cool! Can I call someone on it? How do I dial?”

She proceeded to pick up the receiver and move the finger wheel all the way around to the finger stop, laughing at the sound it made.

“Oh my goodness! This is so cool! Do I have to go all the way around for every number?”

“Yes! All the way to the finger stop for each number!” I replied.

She continued dialing her home phone number while asking if would actually work.

I tried not to laugh as I replied, “Do you hear a dial tone?”

“Dial tone? What’s a dial tone?”

She looked confused until one of the other kids pointed out that it wasn’t plugged in.

“Oh! It isn’t charged!”

Now I feel old.

 

Little Things Mean a Lot

From the Archives, February 2012. One of my all-time favorite posts! A good reminder of how important the little things are in a marriage! Still true six years later.

QuiltI’ve always loved quilts. I’m amazed at how a quilter can take separate pieces of material and turn them into one beautiful creation.

The definition of a quilt is simple – a bed coverlet of two layers of cloth filled with padding held in place by ties or stitched designs.

I’ve found from experience that the more stitches or ties that are binding the pieces together – the longer the quilt lasts.

Several years ago I sewed a quilt for Matt’s bed. It looked nice at first – but since I made it very quickly, the few ties that I put in to hold it together soon broke in the strain of use.

I have another quilt that my Grandma made for me during my college years. She carefully tied it every few inches making a tight and warm covering that has stood the test of time and is still being used today.

One quilt lasted and one didn’t.

Marriage is like a quilt.

It begins as two separate lives that are bound together by a vow.

Then the process of “quilting” begins.

A good quilter knows that many small stitches hold better than a few big ones. The same is true of marriage. It’s the little things in daily life that will make a marriage strong.

Little things that say “I love you and you are important to me.”

Things like – getting up early to make your husband breakfast and packing his lunch before he leaves for work.

And getting the special “thank you – I appreciate this” look while he holds your hand and blesses  that breakfast.

It’s when your husband puts a CD in and immediately goes to your favorite song, or when he gives you all the M & M’s from his trail mix, or takes the dish towel from you and sends you to the couch to rest.

It’s letting your husband eat the last piece of apple pie, or choose what to watch on TV, or sleep undisturbed in the recliner on a Sunday afternoon.

It’s a kiss when they leave and a kiss when they return.

It’s a phone call at lunch break, a back rub, a shared joke.

It’s taking time to really listen.

It’s putting their needs ahead of your own.

It’s those little things.

Stitch by stitch. Everyday. Binding your hearts together.

“Little Things Mean A Lot”
Kitty Kallen

Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I’m not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot

Give me your arm as we cross the street
Call me at six on the dot
A line a day when you’re far away
Little things mean a lot

Don’t have to buy me diamonds and pearls
Champagne, sables or such
I never cared much for diamonds and pearls
’cause honestly, honey, they just cost money

Give me your hand when I’ve lost the way
Give me a shoulder to cry on
Whether the day is bright or gray
Give me your heart to rely on

Send me the warmth of a secret smile
To show me you haven’t forgot
For always and ever, now and forever
Little things mean a lot

Showering the Bride

When you are part of a large, fun-loving quirky extended family full of inside jokes and crazy traditions, you feel kind of sorry for the young gals who choose to marry one of our boys.

Since we want to make them feel welcome and a part of the family right away,  we throw them a one-of-a-kind bridal shower full of family traditions and craziness!

So when Jackie said yes to my nephew Stephen, we gathered the clan and dug out our infamous, homemade and unique Bridal Shower game.

We throw a dice and share memories, or Nana-Shirleyism’s, or embarrassing pictures of Stephen, whatever the space tells us to do.

And since the object is to introduce the new bride to the family, we had to have a space telling us to “Dress-up”! We dig out the dress-up clothes (just like the grand kids have for years at Nana’s house) and we all find something fun to wear.

And I do mean ALL.

Dressing up is a tradition that started in my Grandma’s spare room before I was born.

It is something we take seriously.

Very seriously.

Something else we take very seriously is food.

Everyone cheers when we get land on the “Eat” space!

Then we swoop down upon the table of goodies wearing out lovely dress up attire and fill our plates with deliciousness!

And I do mean fill our plate.

Such pretty food just begs to be eaten!

There is also a space for the bride-to-be to open a gift.

And even some of those are unique and full of funny stories.

Like this vintage cheer leading outfit that has been a gag gift within the family for 30 years or more. This sweet gal was such a good sport!

It was such a honor to bless her with gifts and laughter and traditions!

Welcome to the family, Jackie! You fit right in!

 

Not As Planned

Would you believe it’s taken me over a week to fully enter this New Year?!

It’s taken me that long to recover from December – which did not go as planned.

 

I had a crazy allergic reaction that started Thanksgiving weekend, and by the time I lost my voice 2 weeks in, we started to suspect that I might be allergic to our Christmas tree.

So mid-December. my wonderful husband and son banished me to the basement for a few hours while they un-decorated the tree, took it outside, cleaned all the ornaments and lights, manhandled the artificial tree from the attic, put it up, threw the ornaments and lights on it, and vacuumed everything.

My heroes.

 

If you have ever lost your voice you know how exhausting it is.

I spent a lot of time in the recliner.

I did almost all of my Christmas shopping from that chair.

(God bless Amazon and the UPS drivers.)

I watched every single new Hallmark Christmas Movie. And some old ones.

I listened to hours of Christmas music.

And I discovered that my kids and husband are rock stars.

They dipped, baked, mashed, rolled, wrapped, and vacuumed my entire to-do list.

Everything. Even the things I had given up on.

They each took a part of our big Christmas Eve meal and made it happen. It literally showed up in front of me on the table they had beautifully decorated.

It was a humbling and beautiful gift to realize that after years of making Christmas for them, they could now make Christmas for me.

Yep. December was quite a month.

My voice is finally back, and my energy is returning.

And even though December did not go as I planned, I can see God’s hand in it all.

 

Faithful and kind.

My prayer journal is full of so many answered prayers.

 

And I am thankful.

I can say like Samuel –

 “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” (1 Samuel 7: 12)

Thus far.

I’ve been letting that truth soak deep inside the last few days.

But I think I’m ready now.

Let’s see what God has in store for 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

I guess it’s no wonder I’m slowly moving into 2018.

 

 

 

A Star in the Sky

My husband made me cry last week.

More than once.

They were good tears, though.

Happy “oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-believe-you-did-that!” tears.

For years I’ve admired Christmas stars on top of grain elevators and church steeples. There is just something in their beautiful simplicity that speaks to me.

 

 

So he made me one.

A big one.

And put lights on it.

And somehow managed to climb a ladder in the cold with it on his back to hang it on the light pole by himself.

Now – every night at 5:00 – my star starts shining.

And my heart sings.

I’m pretty sure that’s what love looks like.