Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What Millie Learned in December 2013

1. I'm so silly. (Ha! Don't I learn that every month?) When I'm busy, I'm stressed. When I'm not busy, I'm bored.

2. Radio stations around Christmas time are ridiculous. One moment they're playing "What Child is This," the next moment blaring an inappropriate rap song.

3. I like having a diplomatic nephew. Landon says while watching "Road to Avonlea": "Olivia is my favourite because Olivia is my favourite name. *pause* I like Miss Millie, too." Good move, kid.

4. It's very disturbing to find a dead cat on one's doorstep.

5. Art brings people together. ("Babette's Feast" anyone?)

6. You're never safe from surprises until you're dead. This year I saw my Dad hanging up Christmas lights. I know, right? Perhaps the "Christmas spirit" is contagious. Or maybe infectious.

7. Philippians 2:17 is a good verse to read around Christmas time. "But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." It's like Paul could foresee the mad, grumpy hubbub that now personifies the Christmas season. "So you too should be glad and rejoice with me."

8. Casting a two year old as "Joseph" may get you a very interesting interpretation of said character - like pushing a pregnant Mary off the horse so he can have a turn riding. "The real Joseph unveiled: An Expose."

9. I hate snowed-in Sundays.

10. Apparently, I look enough like I'm from the Ukraine for a perfect stranger to ask me if I am. I know where I'm going to hide, if I ever need to flee the country.

11. Santa Claus is not as scary as I imagined as a small, cynical child. But, I am taken with the strongest curiosity to discover the man's true identity by administering a quick tug to the end of his beard.

12. "The Bells of St. Mary's" is considered a Christmas movie. But why? Maybe because Father O'Malley says Mr. Beaugardis has "holly in his heart." Gag me with a toothbrush!

13. Google has a Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve. I'm absolutely fascinated by this!

14. A baby that I used to dandle on my knee now has a beard. How do I feel about this? One word: Old.

15. A dismantled pump organ can turn into some pretty cool wall art.

16. I learned how to finger knit from a very annoying girl on YouTube. I would find you the link to her video, but I wouldn't wish her upon a dog that I liked. Find your own video.

17. That "I need to forgive, and I need to be forgiven." This, coupled with a verse I read recently: "But in humility, consider others more significant than yourselves." This is a good mindset to have during the holidays. Because "being home for Christmas" is no fun if you have a dysfunctional family - and don't we all have one of those? We are all broken people operating in a broken system. Let's turn to the mender of all things, feast on Christ and give, most of all, the gift of love.

Comment and tell us what you've learned this month or, even better yet, what you're going to learn in the fresh and clean year before us.

- Millie

Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Homemade Christmas Part 3

          I thought a homemade Christmas made alot of sense. "Why does no one give homemade things when there is so much talent in this family?"

           Perhaps I put my foot in my mouth when (something like) that came out, because the idea stuck and I really hadn't considered what I could make for someone... =S
         Reformation day came, the date for our annual Christmas draw. I'm always nervous as the basket of names approaches. Who's name will be on that slip of paper this year and will I be able to come up with a gift that seems right. 

          And the paper read:  Millie

          Followed by the feeling of "I can do this". Not sure why, I had no immediate ideas, but it came together so naturally somehow, one piece at a time...

   Item #1:   an old window frame from the granary 
                    a little fresh paint
                    a couple small pieces of 1/4" plywood
                    some cord sheets
                    some fabric that seemed to say Millie
                 + some chicken wire                                   
                           Displaying earring holder.JPG
       Earring keeper/pin board. I need to make me one of these! =)

   Item #2:    a little jersey knit in mustard chevron      
                    a little sew. a little try-to-turn-a-donut-rightside-out, a little seam ripping, a little try again...An endless scarf is really one of the easiest things there is to sew but apparently my brain wasn't working when I started into this project. Who cuts 2 strips of fabric when you could cut one and fold it in half?!?!

 It looks much better with the navy cardigan she got for her birthday. =)

          Item #3    some fats
                          some lye
                       + some lavender

    Lavender Soap...because Millie is a lavender kinda girl.

          I was very pleased with this gift. Self praise I know but it seemed just right. I'm thinking the homemade Christmas is a keeper...but we may have to bump our name drawing date to give a little more time for crafting...we'll see.

          Hope you had a Merry Christmas!


Saturday, 28 December 2013

Photo Challenge Week 45... to The End






beauty is in the eye of the beholder:



deck the halls:


someone you love:





This has been fun guys!


Friday, 27 December 2013

A Homemade Christmas Part 2

Even before I picked a name from the hat, I'd decided I wouldn't go for shock value this year.

Actually, while discussing the whole hand made Christmas concept, Owen and I had already mocked the inevitable turn out.

"I mean, if you pick a name," he said, a little sarcastic, "I can't imagine what you're going to give them..."

Yeah, yeah.

So my only challenge was to make the quilt a little cooler than average.

It was just the icing on the cake when I ended up picking his name.


I decided to go the 'Eye Spy' route; a novelty print quilt that tends toward the busy looking end of things. I decided to feature particular things that Owen is partial too, including his hobbies and food, and got to work finding fabric!

I tried to tame things down by using larger blocks of fabric and I selected fewer fabrics framing the prints, so a clearer colour theme could come through.

The internet is not as almighty as you might think when it comes to novelty fabric, but I did score some Grinch and bacon fabric! (And yes, yes, beer stuff too.)

For some blocks, I appliqued logos - and on a bear print, I embroidered a bulls eye. Poor thing - it didn't see it coming.

I also incorporated some selvage ends from the fabric, that had cute and relevant words.

As a finishing touch...my first ever quilt label.

 All fancy there with fabric marker.

Wrap it up, add some pecan pralines with a bow - and you have a home made Christmas.

And I have to say, I'm looking forward to next year!

xo ~Liv

Monday, 23 December 2013

A Homemade Christmas Part 1

In case you haven't noticed, I am not a very crafty person. And by "crafty" I mean I'm not knowledgeable about crafts, not that I am not very devious. I am very devious, let me assure you.
But, when it comes to things pertaining to sewing machines, rotary cutters, glue, and church ladies craft nights, I start to get anxiety issues. It may perhaps have something to do with the fact that I live with two crafters extraordinaire. It's like standing up to sing "22" when Taylor Swift's sitting on the couch right next to you. Talk about pressure!
So, when the announcement was made that this Christmas, our family gift exchange was to be made up entirely of homemade items, I began to feel the butterflies rising in my stomach. Maybe some other family members felt that way, too.

Turns out, we shouldn't have worried. Turns out everyone in our family is rocking awesome talented. Turns out, we can amaze each other, if we really try. Turns out a home made Christmas was a pretty good idea.

As I stuck my hand into the bowl containing all of our names written on slips of paper, I sent up a silent prayer I wouldn't get a guy's name, or worse... my mother's name. Can you imagine trying to make something for my Mom, the quilting expert, who never made a crooked seam in her life? It would be like drawing a picture for Vincent Van Gogh.

I opened the slip of paper...Phew!...the name was: Abigail.

Okay. *deep breath* I can do this thing.

This is what I came up with.

House themed notecards. These were done with watercolours on folded watercolour paper. They were actually a lot of fun! I sketched them out lightly with pencil before painting.
I thought this message was very appropriate for my absolutely gorgeous sister. She always looks beautiful. For this project, I used a piece of broadcloth and embroidered blue and pink lines on it to make it look like loose leaf. Then, I embroidered the message in black. I hot glued the cloth into the frame, as well.
How about some embroidered pillowcases? I knew Abi liked such things because I creeped her Pinterest boards. I also sneaked up to her bedroom when I was at her house, once, to check out the colour of her sheets. So, I really was crafty for this project. Hardy har har. I didn't want to push my luck by making the pillowcases myself. So, instead I bought two plain brown pillowcases and used a design I already had to sketch on the birds and hearts before embroidering. I used a chain stitch in red thread.
Lemon sugar body scrub was next on the list. Here's the recipe I used: http://www.thesweetestoccasion.com/2012/07/homemade-body-scrub/. Easy and good.
And finally...
(Forgive my strange, wrinkly hand. Apparently I have monkey paws.) I'd been wanting to make clove studded oranges for a couple years now, and I'm so glad I got around to making them, this year. I think they smell amazing and look kind of cool. The clove stems can be brittle, so poke holes in the oranges first with something pointy (like a kitchen skewer), before you push in the cloves. It's kind of fun to experiment with different patterns. I felt like Emma from the BBC adaptation of that Jane Austen book, except I didn't have a white linen napkin on a tray, or a cool frock.
And Emma didn't have a wonderful sister named Abigail who makes Christmas crafting a pleasure.
Happy furious-last-minute-crafting, people. Stay strong until the very end!
(And eat that extra slice of pie. You know you want to...)
- Millie


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Because Christmas is Really Thanksgiving With Bells On


Maybe you're ready. Maybe you're not. It doesn't make a difference really, because Christmas comes anyway, is here, and flies by in a haze of family gatherings and mincemeat pie.


In fact, this year, the only thing that appears to stick with me - the glue to hold the glitter on - is a sudden and surprising sense of gratitude.



Gratitude for this time...and the things we don't count on, but come anyway during December.


The funny things. Videoing the Christmas story in a million degree below zero weather. And all the angels and shepherds and 'toddler Jesus' banging around inside the van to get warm. Casting can't help but be ironic in these circumstances. And what lengths we go to, for grandparent's Christmas presents!


The relieved when the guys get back safe from a snowy four day trip with  a few truck troubles and less sleep.


The amazed; when you see that family sitting there in a row of chairs. Who you've prayed would come to pastor and serve with the church...and it seems like you can hear the "yes, so far" being spoken out loud.



The cherished, in the voices of kids singing, eyes wide and brave. Good words in small mouths.


The mundane things... when someone speaks kindness or that little boy laughing out loud while you read - because the Tawny Scrawny Lion is simply a funny book.


And most...All of it Holy, because the baby King is God with us.


Merry Christmas!




Tuesday, 10 December 2013

In this time...

Is it already snowing outside?

Somewhere between November 23 and the second week of December - things go from teetering on the edge to wildest, around here. It's from 'December's as free as a bird', to 'sorry, but this week is booked up'. It goes from pinning crafts to pulling puppy dog eyes at your father and handing him some gold spray paint. Somewhere from planning to paint nativity scenes on each fingernail, to not brushing your teeth at night.

Ok. Well maybe the last one isn't true.

But busy does happens.

Nor do I fight it. Truth be told, I like the hustle and kitchen full and coming to bed after present sewing too late. I like a little fuss. A little special thing or two as the Winter begins.

So I'm learning not to resent the pimple on my chin that will come whether I like it or not. (Holding off on the chocolate might help...) Letting the food and errands and ways to help fill up each day as I get to it. Dare I hope - starting to let things go and holding on to people a little better?

Because it will always be that. Those faces. Love them as hard as you can and remember while commercials try to sidetrack, and lists flutter as you reach for a hand...

Christ is with us.


P.S. I promise I will finish this year's photo challenge! Just not. right. now. Soon!


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

What Liv Learned this November (2013)

1. If I am not entirely enthusiastic about s'mores - I certainly am about this cake.


2. I realized that I care more about words then I thought. And reading unlocks more than we can imagine.

3. That 9 times out of 10, I'm so bound to getting things crossed off my list, that I can't just enjoy the process. This can be a problem...(read: always sloppy!)

4. I discovered I can actually get such an attack of cabin fever that even Walmart seems like an exciting Saturday night activity. And I don't even like Walmart.

5. The only side affect of doing NanoWriMo is a sore behind.

6. I should get more exercise than I do. But not stomach crunchy type of exercise, because then I just flail around on the floor trying to get up again.

7. There is nothing so nice as eating breakfast with overnight friends.

8. I also learned my pride is not without being checked from time to time. Just when I think I'm becoming semi-competent, I loose a dog while babysitting, and have broken glassware while staying at someone's house. Really?

P.S. The dog came back before the parents did.

9. Baptisms will always, forever make me cry.

10. Apparently, my sister's fright while driving with me is well founded. Yay for glasses in my purse - to put on before I go motoring. (Not!)

11. And most of all, a growing awareness that who I am and what I do, is wrapped up in Christ and His worth. So that my stage of life does not mean I pull less kingdom weight or translate as a flake. But so courage and strength and reliance on Him is what I bring to the battlegrounds of where I am - where ever I find myself in the future.

xo ~Liv

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Lessons Millie Learned in November 2013

1. I can write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Yup. With two days to spare. Check this web-site out: http://nanowrimo.org/about. If you've ever wanted to write a novel, but have lacked the gumption to do so, plan on taking this challenge next November. It will make you overcome all your fears and turn you into a writer.

2. The most important writing advice boils down to this: Just start writing. Start typing one ridiculous seeming, silly sounding word after another. There's no other way to go about it.

3. Always, always, always remember to look behind you when backing up a car, especially when it's your Grandmother's car. Enough said.

4. Don't endeavour to share a sleeping space with a large dog. You will either be smothered with his large body draped across your chest or be drowned in his slobber.

5. Dogs are just big babies, but a lot harder to pick up.

6. Everything costs a lot more money than I would have imagined. It's kind of depressing, actually.

7. The French word for "sun" is "soleil." I'm so glad I have a five year old niece who can teach me French. What a good girl to have around!

8. Keurig coffee makers are awesome as are the cappuccinos and white hot chocolate you can make in them. Minimal effort for maximum deliciousness.

9. As Olivia and I wandered around the grocery store, today, looking for some special food to celebrate finishing our novels, I learned that I've kind of grown out of the excitement of junk food. All we could muster up was some chocolate pudding, chips and cheese salsa. How blaise we have become! (Blaise is a word, right?)

10. Norland College, a famous nanny school in England, actually offers a course in car seat fitting. Any one who has ever struggled through getting those stupid seats actually securely fastened in a car would heartily concur that this is a wonderful idea.

Did you have a educational November? Comment and let us know!

- Millie

Monday, 18 November 2013

On Turning 20

(Just as a side note, I think I get exceedingly boring when it comes to my post title choices. But, really, what can I say? This is a post about turning twenty.)

I'm sitting here, writing a superfluous blog post, when I should be doing other writing, but I've decided to throw caution to the wind. It's my birthday today, after all.

It's been a good week-end. Six children sang to me, over a teddy bear cake on Friday. Greek food was et on Saturday. I was toasted with beer and wine on Sunday, and got special birthday phone calls on Monday. I know it's rather a tired, old sentiment, but really the best gifts aren't the ones you can see, feel, or (yum) taste, though I must say I'm pretty delighted with the presents I received as well. It's the friends, the new and old and unexpected. It's the prayers, and benedictions of well-wishing. I guess it's the love.

And speaking of tired and old, that's the way I've been feeling lately. I've found myself thinking many times during these last few weeks, "Am I really only turning twenty?" It seems like I've been living for so much longer than that. And, I know...Anyone who is anything older than twenty-one is thinking, "PATHETIC!" But, I'm being honest, here. This is "real life" for me.

This past week was a rather hard one - it seems like God was teaching me what it is to be humbled and say "I'm sorry" - to make mistakes and recognize my sin in jarring technicolour. I was thinking about these things when I went on a walk, today in the part rain and cloud, when I just happened to look over my shoulder and gasped. There was a rainbow, arching in the sky above me. I could see it from end to end.

It whispered "Happy Birthday" to me and I thanked God.

But, that's not all. As I stood and looked at the rainbow with something reaching awe in my heart, I glimpsed through the clouds a second rainbow. A double rainbow....

Not just enough to get us by. Lavish gifts.

In just a few seconds, they were both gone.

Life is a gift. And, like every good gift, it's a sequence of total surprises. In the friends I've made, the places I've found myself, the little things that brighten my days - it's often the most unexpected that become the dearest.

I've always admired the people who can make and keep resolutions. It's not that I don't have the willpower to stay with something. It's just that I can never decide what the resolution should be. But, walking home today, I had a glimpse of what I might just want my life to be like in the next year: Open-palmed. Taking what comes without fear -  with even eager anticipation. Life is too short for anything less than that. Whether it's a rainbow, or a rain cloud just over your shoulder God can turn it into a gift with a bow on the top for extra good measure.

- Millie

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Photo Challenge Week 42, 43, & 44

Guilty Pleasure:

Harvest Time:
Love ya'

Friday, 1 November 2013

What I Learned in October 2013 - The Liv Edition

1. I can make a shaped cake. Cool.


P.S. I didn't use a cake mix...fortherecord.

2. Naptime is always the best time.

3. Nothing is as hard as the anticipation of that said same something hard.

4. That I no longer need to sign my name to every journal entry. Who else would be writing in my journal anyway?

5. Fiction is a legitimate form of brain food and soul growing. Fact.

6. The Red Sox have this beard thing and it is perhaps the most endearing/amusing sports related thing I have seen in a long time.


7. Green mountains of Vermont. White mountains of New Hampshire.
They are just as beautiful as they sound. Go see them if you can!

8. Friends means that you can disagree and still...be friends.

9. Cornmeal coconut pancakes are too good, BTW and whatever some may say.
Here! http://pollyspancakeparlor.com/

10. The word poiema is where we get poem from, and it is the same word used to describe God's workmanship in us.
In other words, we are God's poem. Do we live like it?
If you want to have it explained more eloquently, and have every art making cliché turned on its head...this book may be helpful.http://www.amazon.ca/Million-Little-Ways-Uncover-Were/dp/0800722442

11. Kids are really the very funniest things going.


And that's that.

Join in the learning fun if you like. Just post your aha things in the comments...we'd love to read them!


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Lessons Millie Learned in October 2013

1.       Tips are confusing. Thus I am grateful that some debit card machines have an option to just type in the percent you want to tip and it figures out the rest for you. Cool, eh?

2.       Americans don’t seem to believe in guardrails. I was informed that guard rails don’t do much to protect you, anyway. But, at least you have the illusion of safety.

3.       I learned that I rarely regret the things I did – but rather the things I didn’t do.

4.       Things are often not as difficult or scary as you would think at first.

5.       You never know what’s going to make the biggest impression in a child.

6.       I hate Hallowe’en. Not particularly because of any doctrinal stance. It’s just so ugly!

7.       I learned that sometimes there is great strength in confessing one’s weaknesses.

8.       And sometimes we learn we’re not the only ones who are weak at times.

9.       Real life? Yeah, it’s more gutwrenching, messy, and confusing than we could imagine. But, it’s also more wonderful, joyful, and breathtakingly beautiful than we can foresee.  
- Millie

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Fall 2013

              There are days when the time is right for getting away. A test of strength maybe.  Just so you know you can survive driving curves not already etched in your mind. Just so you know that you can check yourself successfully into a B &B. Just so you know you can figure out how much to tip.


                We jokingly called it Celebration of Limbo, but deep down we knew those were just words.


                Maybe it was more a celebration of laughing…and eating two breakfasts in one morning…and picnicking in the dark. And remember how we were the only guests wherever we stayed the night? And just now – the last night and we can not sleep – the most terrifying paranormal sounding cat is meowing outside of our door.

                How about celebration of heart failure.  


                Or no. This is just life, really.

                Maybe that man at the corner store said it better. Discussing the size of our Tootsie Rolls, we said they weren’t the smallest, but not the big ones either.

                “The in betweens,” he said sleepily, plugging in the correct price. “You guys should form a band and call it that. Yeah.”

                Yeah. That’s us. Rocking our American money confusion and maps spread out on the dash board.  Maybe that’s what celebration of being in between looks like.


                Could people read it on our faces? Is that why every person skipped hello and went straight to “What on earth are you doing in these parts”?

                Do we need a reason?

                Well, maybe, yes.

                Funny how it comes to you when you are sitting footsore and quiet in a coffee shop with your chin in one hand.  Funny how Emily is absorbed in her book. Funny how Millie is sketching our messy hair. How I’m putting pen to paper.

                Fact is, we didn’t come to find ourselves. One deadbolts the doors before bed, one wakes up laughing. I fold our jackets and stack them in the back seat. And oh how they cheered me up Blueberry Hill Road. That was the closest I’ve ever been to shutting my eyes and just letting the car roll backwards.

We know darn well who we are.

                But we’re growing, like the trees that flick their amber leaves across our windshield and it is a sweet, sweet thing to do that together.

                Do you see how those trees stand tall? They know what they’re here for…no doubts under the cloud’s shifting shadows.
                We came to see them. Do you think we came to be them?


                Mm. Lets.

                And turn up the radio. The sun just came out.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Photo Challenge Week 40 & 41


"A rich confusion of awareness lies below the level of our consciousness. Artists reach into that confusion and give it an order. As we stand before a painting or listen to music or read a poem, we suddenly see our own experiences and insights projected onto the details of the work before us.
Artist turn our pain into art so we can bear it. They turn our joys into art so we can prolong them. In song and statue, poem and painting, artists give shape to the affirmations and denials of the human race."
Leland Ryken

Something I'm Grateful For:


Friday, 11 October 2013


It's funny how things take you back a bit - back to another space of time.

It's funny that all it takes is a yellowed piece of paper and the smell of butter and brown sugar.

I found the recipe the other day and even though I was by myself in the kitchen, I laughed out loud.

I'm not  old, but I remember when this paper was brand new. And the lady with crisp black curls left pound cakes anonymously in our van...and a sister made something sweet every Sunday afternoon.

Those were some good times...but...so is now.

So get out the pots and pans. Bake yourself some good taste today, darlings.

8 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup plus 2 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter and brown sugar, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Cook, stirring, about 1 min longer - the mixture will bubble but should not boil. Set the pan aside and cool about 10 mins.
Meanwhile, butter an 8 inch square pan, line the bottom with parchment and then butter the parchment.
Stir the egg, egg yolk and vanilla into the cooled sugar mixture. Add the flour, salt and nuts, stirring just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center is springy, when touched (the top may still look doughy) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few  moist crumbs clinging. 25-35 minutes should be adequate.
Set the pan on a rack until it's cool enough to handle. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan and then flip onto a flat surface and peel off the parchment. Flip the backed blondies back onto the rack to cool completely. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.
*OR you can just omit the parchment, and leave the blondies to cool in the pan. No big deal.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Photo Challenge Week 38 & 39


Something I Hate To Do:


What Liv Learned in September 2013...

1. That if you are cross, lonely or feeling downright peevish...clean. Throw away, dust, reorganize the files, or make files in the first place. You may even mutter while you do this. It will feel wonderful.

2. In all my years of living in the same house as a woodstove, I have never made a single edible thing with it. During a power outage however, Millie and I were so bold as to fry eggs and sausage by candle light. I learned it was quite doable and a little bit fun.

3. I learned that turkeys are not nearly as alarming as my childhood self seemed to think. It was rather soothing and therapeutic to herd them in the dark with Katie.

4. This month I discovered that it is possible to actually enjoy having commitments and feel happy amid the lists and lines on the calendar. And apparently, stress attacks about life are (for me anyway) an optional activity! How did I not know this before?

5. I learned that I really need to work hard at completing full, clear sentences when I speak. Petering out is never a good idea, but it becomes downright bewildering to elderly folk.

6. I made sushi for the first time in September and learned that it is possible, pleasantly palatable and particularly pmessy.


7. I was convicted with the truth that critical thoughts of the heart will come out in the face, the words, the raised eyebrows. And I learned that truly loving someone has to start way down deep.

8. I learned just how much mental strain trip planning requires. And how on earth do you do anything without Google?

9. I re-remembered that Christians are people like everyone else and we can't expect anything different. Why do we even try to do that?

And most of all...

10. God is glorified all the more when He uses cracked vessels to do Kingdom work. How exciting to be part of the church , particular and universal, right full of these same people! Hold them close.

Over and out.