Friday, November 30, 2018

What I'm reading at the moment...

Posting about my bookmarks yesterday (and seeing Sam's book reviews for this week), made me think I'd share what I'm reading right now.

I routinely have several books going at any given time.  They get laid down and picked up whenever I come across them again.  Some books get laid aside so long I forget the story line.  I'm not sure when I developed this habit, but I don't recommend it.  

While the above is true, I also often I find myself absorbed in one good book that keeps my attention, and at the moment that book is Light in the Darkness by Lynn Austin.

Lynn Austin is a Christian Fiction writer and I've yet to read a book of hers I didn't like.  The characters in her books discuss faith without being preachy.  The characters are real - very much works in process like all of us.  Candle in the Darkness is Book 1 (of a series of books that take place during the Civil War era.  The protagonist in this first book is the daughter of a slave owner, and she comes to an understanding (through learning about the personal lives of her family's slaves) that slavery is wrong, but coming to a full understanding of its evil is a process.  A process that isn't easily understood by our modern sensibilities.    

Looking forward to reading the other two books in the series once I'm finished with the first one.

I've shared earlier this month that I am culling through the over abundance of books in our house.  Well, not only are we book collectors, but  we also collect bookmarks.  Cheap promotional bookmarks, free bookmarks picked up at the library, pretty beaded bookmarks, and bookmarks made of pictures.  Some of our bookmarks are older than the 38 years we've been married!

I keep them in this old wooden tool chest:

In just one drawer of this toolbox (did you think every drawer was filled  with bookmarks?)
I should have put my hand in there and stirred the bookmarks around 
to give a better glimpse of all of them.

While there's never a shortage of nice bookmarks in this house, let me assure you I do a fair amount of scrounging for something to mark my place when I don't have the foresight to get a bookmark before I sit down to read.  I'll make a bookmark of anything that will fit between the pages. Business cards, gum wrapper, receipts, scraps of paper, a stray yarn band, a string of yarn...  

Don't get me wrong.  All of these things make perfectly good place holders in books, and I'd never scoff or moralize over their use. 

But I have to admit there's something about a pretty or clever one, that adds to my pleasure of reading.  A proper bookmark makes me feel settled in.  Committed.   It says, "This book is spoken for."  And I'm much more likely to take seriously a good read than when I don't use one.  

Of course, maybe that's just me...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Artsy magnets & bookmarks...

A week and a half ago I started a project where I was using pictures from old art books to make magnets and bookmarks.  

Here is the post I promised showing the end result.  I don't have pictures of every single magnet or bookmark made, but this is a good representation of the variety of pictures I chose to use.  While this is a photo-heavy post, I'll try to keep the verbiage to a minimum. 

First of all, I cut out lots of pictures (narrowing down what pictures to cut out was the hardest part):

Before laminating, I used a glue stick to glue pretty (or coordinating) decorative paper to the backs of the pictures.  When possible, I also cut out and glued on the reference information for the pictures and artists):
Excuse that everything above is already laminated, I didn't think to take photographs before laminating.

After each picture had backing paper, I laminated everything using an inexpensive laminating machine I bought years ago at Aldi, of all places.   
Note:  I was in Walmart yesterday and I noticed that they sell laminating machines that are comparable to this in the price range of $10.00 - $20.00.  Such machines are cheap, but the laminating sheets are moderately expensive.  I used 3mil thickness laminating sheets, which was perfectly fine for my purposes.  While I was in Walmart, though, I picked up some 5mil sheets - more expensive, but I'm curious how much thicker and stiffer they will make items like this.  We'll see.

After laminating the pictures, I cut them out with scissors, and to the backs of what I wanted to make into magnets, I glued a variety of magnets:

I used round as well as strip magnets, and even cut pieces of magnet from a supply of magnets I've saved that come from all sorts of places, most printed with promotional material:
I do suggest testing the strength of these types of magnets.  I'm afraid at least one of the ones above was pretty weak.  I learned this too late.  It still worked, it was just a bit less strong, magnetically, than the others.

I glued the magnets to the backs of the laminated pictures using E6000 adhesive (purchased once upon a time at Hobby Lobby):

And some of the laminated pictures made terrific bookmarks:

One could punch a hole in the bookmarks and tie a decorative ribbon on, but I like the simplicity of these.  

And that's all there was to it!  Some made their way into the Advent calendar project I made last week, and some I've saved for myself!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Here kitty, kitty...

Middle son brought his two kitties by for a visit over the Thanksgiving holiday.

A female he named Starbuck

And her brother named, Apollo

The lighting of the pictures doesn't help one see how nearly identical these two cats appear.  Starbuck is a little tanner, and Apollo is a little grayer, but unless they were in the same room I couldn't tell which one I was looking at.

So sweet.  Both the kitties and my grown son who is so gentle with them.  

It was a lot of fun watching them explore our house.  We haven't had a cat in nearly 30 years, but I sure have a hankering for another one now...

Monday, November 26, 2018

Simple gifts...

I mentioned back in August that I said goodbye to Yuko, a young Japanese woman I was serving as an ESL tutor for.  Well, it's happened again.  Having such a good experience the first time, I jumped back into being matched with someone new.  And today we said good-bye.  

In late September I was given a few choices of adults who wanted to practice speaking English, I readily picked a young Chinese woman (named Jie) - who was hoping to soon find employment as a hospital nurse.   Having one ESL experience under my belt, I now knew that the arrangement could be short lived, but I wasn't quite prepared for it to end so soon.

But my new young friend has found employment - actually was offered two positions, I think quicker than even she expected.  So, while I'm sorry to lose another ESL conversation partner, I'm so very happy for her.  Her family is also moving to a new home, soon - about an hour away, and while we may occasionally connect via text or e-mail, I know her life will soon be very busy and full of the excitement of new things.  I'm glad to have been even just a small part in this time of transition for her.

Before we ended our time today, I asked Jie if she would write something in Chinese down for me.  I told her to write anything.  And she wrote this:

I asked her to translate and she said it means "be grateful".  And said that is what she feels toward me and our time together speaking English.    

As further explanation of the characters, she wrote this:

I have only a tiny bit of understanding that Chinese characters not only represents words, but that the characters also represent ideas.  So, while I don't quite understand how these words form the idea of being grateful, they are all very nice words, I'm thinking.  Not wanting to parse out what was clearly a compliment, I decided to just receive it and could easily return the kind words.  I could honestly tell Jie I was grateful for her and the experience, too.

I have found both experiences of being an ESL conversation partner with two young Asian women to be a gift I am very grateful for.  I am impressed by their intelligence, yet at the same time their humbleness in putting themselves in the hands of a stranger to practice speaking a language that doesn't in any way resemble their native tongue.  I'm impressed by their bravery - to live in a foreign country and learn how to maneuver.  To drive, to travel and do exciting things, in Jie's case to get a job.   Getting to know these young women has been a gift I am very grateful for.    And while I can't imagine being matched up with anyone as pleasant as Yuko and Jie, these two women have also given me the courage to see if it can happen again.  

So, while I think I will wait until after the holidays to begin another match, I'm looking forward to the new year, and hopefully another pleasant ESL experience.

Thank you, Jie and Yuko!  😊 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Short & sweet...

It's been a good week, and we had a very happy Thanksgiving, but I don't have much to show in the knitting or crocheting departments. 

Not feeling like I had enough WIPs, I started a scarf with this beautiful Lion Brand Unique yarn in the colorway, Harvest.   

And I finished this washcloth, which is one of 12 squares in the 12 Blocks for Xmas KAL blanket (only mine is just a washcloth - I'm not making a blanket):
This square is the block called Triangles

And that's truly all the playing with yarn I've done all week.  Someday later this coming week, I'll post a picture of the finished magnets and bookmarks I started last Sunday.  A few of you asked to see them. I have not forgotten. 

My goal from now through the end of the year is to finish or frog projects I currently have on hooks or needles, and to burn through as many skeins of yarns as I can.  As you can see from my notation at the end of this post, I have a long ways to go toward my goal of using up 100-skeins this year, but I'm pretty sure I can get significantly closer if I apply myself.

To see what other YOPers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry!

2018 Yarn Stash-Down:  59.29/100 Skeins

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Moments with Ruth...

I spent a few hours with Ruth this afternoon.  Today  I brought some pictures that are printed on watercolor paper and we "painted".  The book pictured below is Kristy's Summer Cutting Garden: A Watercoloring Book.  Kristy's books are gorgeous and printed on watercolor paper, so the pictures can be painted on the book pages themselves and the book left intact if a person so chooses.

It's a simple activity that we sometimes do with watercolor pencils (the ones above are Derwent brand) and these water brushes.   The brushes can be used with regular watercolor paints, but used with water color pencils makes for a more controlled activity.  It takes adult coloring to a new level.  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Advent gifts...

Earlier this year, I got an idea from this webpage to do some sort of advent calendar for each of my adult sons.   This isn't something we did as they were growing up, but I thought it would be fun to make something like this for my sons who've all flown the coop finally.  

Now, my guys probably wouldn't be as into the fun scrappy "ornaments" that make up the advent calendar linked to above, but it gave me the idea and impetus to try to put something together.

I decided to go with something that would be more my guys' style - something that could just sit on a counter or table and still look kind of fun.   Yesterday I ventured back into Hobby Lobby (the second, or maybe it was the third, time this year),  and I found some cute and inexpensive little paper gift bags that were perfect for this.  And I used some wire baskets I bought last year at Walmart to corral all the gift bags.

After searching online for some pre-made printables, I finally settled on this set of scripture cards - one for each day of December leading up to Christmas day.    And I found some cute numbers to use (I'm sorry I didn't keep track of my source for the numbers), but there are bunches of free printable options online to choose from.  Knock yourself out trying to choose a favorite.  😉

Originally (like back in the spring), I thought it would be fun to hand-make every single gift,  but by late October I eventually realized that wasn't going to happen.   So...  I finally decided on a combination of some hand-made items, some small inexpensive store bought gifts, some candy and other snacks to fill the bags - along with a scripture card each day.

I gave them to my sons on Thanksgiving day and I was surprised at how interested they seemed to be.  Or maybe they were just humoring me.  I don't know.  I just wanted to do something to maybe help them keep in mind the season we're entering, and also to think of home.  And mom.  Maybe that last thing misses the point of Advent, but I'm being completely honest, here.  😊

One of these days, though, I really want to make a scrappy advent calendar (like the one linked to at the beginning of this post).  I think it would be fun to give someone.   Or to maybe just use myself.  

I'm curious if others of you do advent calendars.   They seem so popular now.  I know bunches of my fellow yarn crafters are into doing advent projects - and that seems like such a fun idea, but I can't decide, or discipline myself to stick with such a project (or projects) for every day for nearly a whole month.

The fact that I've been disciplined to post to my blog daily for the last 23 days amazes me!

I'll plan to be back here tomorrow!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving - after the table was cleared...

Thanksgiving meal was ham, green bean casserole, sauteed zucchini and summer squash, corn casserole, and rolls.  Followed with pecan and pumpkin pies.  A simple meal by some standards, but it was so good.  I only wish I'd gotten a picture of the set table.

After finishing eating, we cleared the table and enjoyed several rounds of Zendo and Century Spice Road - both new games to us.  Then the guys poured over some pictures that husband brought home from his mother's earlier this week.  We ended the evening with stories of when my husband and I were first married.  The guys were pretty good sports as we reminisced.  It helped that we had some doozy stories to laugh at.  

It was a good Thanksgiving.  I'm feeling so very thankful for my family and special times together like this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Instant pot - a review...

I thought I'd give a plug for a new kitchen gadget I recently received.   My MIL gave me an Instant Pot as an early Christmas gift!

I only recently started paying attention to this trend of a multi-type cooker, even though they've been around for a while.  Seriously, less than a year ago I can honestly say I'd never even heard of the Instant Pot.   I'm also not normally a kitchen gadget person, but over the last few months I've grown increasingly curious and interested in this cooker, so I was kind of excited when my MIL asked if I'd like one for Christmas.  And then she went ahead and gave it to me just a couple of weeks ago.  Whoo hoo!

So far I've only cooked macaroni, Basmati brown rice, baked potatoes and last night I made my first real meal in it.    I made Beef Bourguignon from the book, The Authorized Collection - Instant Pot Weeknight Meals, and it was pretty good!

I'll be honest...  the Instant Pot doesn't really cook a meal any faster than using regular pots and pans, BUT what it does do is allow you to saute and then cook in the same pot, and then by closing it up and putting the whole thing under pressure, I find I'm completely content to go about my business doing something else without the temptation to check on it, or stir it, or even sneak a taste.  

Now, that might be a turn off to some, but I find it surprisingly easy to do.  And while, again, it doesn't cook the meal any faster, it feels (to me) a little faster since I'm not hovering over it waiting for my meal to finish, or making sure it doesn't burn while it's cooking.  

While my review might be a little premature with my limited cooking experience with my Instant Pot, at the moment I'm kind of loving it.

My criticisms:  

  • The book isn't the most thorough thing I've ever read.  And at least once, the "authorized" cookbook contradicted itself.   For example, in a recipe the instructions for cooking pasta said to use the "quick release" to vent the steam (and lower the pressure more quickly).  It refers you to page 4 to read how to do this, but on page 4, it tells you that the quick release feature is not suitable for starchy foods (as "food content may splatter out from the steam release" - presumably clogging the vent).

  • An example of where it's not thorough, is each recipe tells you to set the time for cooking, but it doesn't tell you what button to push to do this. There is no "cook time" button.  After pushing a few different things, I was able to figure it out, but it made me nervous the first time to press buttons thinking that this thing was working its way to being under pressure.  I didn't know how much time I had to figure it out.  Now, I'm not so nervous, but that first time I was a little worried and a bit annoyed that it wasn't more intuitive or explained thoroughly.

All that said, with all the helps online, and cookbooks available,  I think this tool will be fairly easy to master.  I'm looking forward to discovering more yummy food I can cook in it.

If you have someone on your Christmas Shopping list who loves gadgets, but doesn't have one of these yet, it would make a great gift.  If you don't know if they'd want one, ask.  I sure didn't feel let down knowing a month early what I'd be getting.   Getting it a month early was just icing on the cake.  Or maybe I should say...  sauce in the pot! 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cream Cheese and Chocolate Marble Brownies...

I've become a fan of combining cream cheese and chocolate brownies in one yummy dessert.  I became a fan when I found a recipe on the box of a brownie mix once upon a time.  Having in my possession a brownie mix that didn't have such a recipe, I went online to see if I could find a recipe for just the cream cheese filling.

Oh my!  Did I ever find recipes!  I thought it would be hard to choose, but after perusing several sites, I concluded that the basic recipe is so common that it probably falls into the category of common knowledge.   Who knew?!?   

Most that I came across were identical, or any differences I found were insignificant.   Except for this recipe.   This one looked interesting because it added butter, and seriously... isn't everything better with butter?  That said, I was in disbelief that only 3 oz. of cream cheese would make an adequate filling.  So I took the knowledge I'd gleaned from other recipes and came up with a slight variation of the above recipe.

First, if you're making brownies from scratch, I suggest using any number of the recipes you can find online.  I can't vouch for any in particular as I have my own simple, but fine, from-scratch brownie recipe that I sometimes use, but I wanted something that I could use with a box mix.  'Cause sometimes a mix is just fine. 😉

Okay...  so if you want to add cheesecake to pretty much any box-mix brownie, I think this should work for you:

First, make the cheesecake batter by combining the following and mix until fairly smooth:

  8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  1/4 cup granulated sugar
  1 large egg
  1  tsp. vanilla extract
  2 Tbs. butter, softened  (do not use margarine)
  1 Tbs. flour

Then, in another bowl, make the box mix as directed.  For the brownie pictured, I used a Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate Brownie mix, but I actually prefer Aldi's Baker's Corner Fudge Brownie mix.  Cheap and yummy.

Okay...  whatever brownie mix you use, pour most of the brownie mixture into a buttered 9x13 glass baking dish.  I didn't measure, but I left maybe a cup, cup and a half of the brownie mixture in the bowl to use later.  

Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the baking dish.

Then, with a large spoon, dollop the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie mixture.  Depending on how thick the brownie mixture is, you may be able to spread the cheesecake mixture a bit.  But don't be a perfectionist about this.

Then pour, or scrape out (with a spatula) the rest of the brownie mix over and around the cream cheese mixture.

With a knife, cut through the whole mixture, snaking back and forth through the cheesecake and brownie mixtures to sort of combine them into swirls.  I like to snake the knife horizontally and then vertically to really spread that cheesecake around, being careful to not over-mix the two mixtures.  Again, don't be a perfectionist.  Cream cheese marble brownies are like folk art.  Every piece looks a little different, and each taste is it's own kind of delicious.

Follow the baking instructions on the box.    When done baking, let cool completely before cutting (if you can).  Then enjoy! 

These don't last long enough at our house to go bad, but if you want to keep them longer than a couple of days, I suggest refrigerating or possibly even freezing. 


Monday, November 19, 2018

Recipes & memories...

There's a recipe for pulled pork.  Need I say more?  Mmmmm

Louise's Chocolate Chip pie - I was named after my Aunt Louise.  Everyone said I was her favorite.  I guess, truth be told, she was my favorite, too.  

Hershey's Cocoa Fudge - On my...  my memories abound about fudge.  Fudge that didn't set up and you had to eat it with a spoon.  Fudge so hard you had to cut it with a sharp knife, then eat the slivers that would fall off the pieces as you tried to pick up a piece to eat it.  And I'm sure there was plenty of perfect fudge, too.  We didn't necessarily have fudge often, but we evidently had it often enough that I remember it seemed a tricky thing to fix.  Regardless of how it "set up", though, it was always delicious.

Kentucky Pie (sugar cream pie) would be my mother's mother's recipe.  She was my last living grandparent and she died when I was four years old.  Even though she and my grandfather lived across the street from us, and my grandmother lived in our house during her last weeks, I really don't have any memory of her.  I only have the memory (or sense) of knowing she was being taken care of by my parents in her last days (or weeks?)  I really don't know how long she stayed with us at the end.

And Shirley's Special Pie (more or less the same as Kentucky Pie) -  Shirley would be my mother, I presume.  She didn't care to be called Shirley, though, and went by Deane (short for Veradeane).   When someone would say to her, "Surely.... anything", she would say, "Don't call me Shirley!" The joke never got old.  Not to me.

Wondering if she came up with that herself, or got that line somewhere, I googled it.  I found this (the expression is at about the 1:00 minute mark):

I love Leslie Nielson, but he must have stolen the expression from mom.  Ha!  Mom said this when I was a little girl so I know she didn't steal it from the line in the movie,  Airplane


Another thing mom would always say...  when she'd drop something noisy (like a pot or pan), she'd call out, "Never mind me, I just dropped the set out of my ring!"    For the longest time I didn't get the joke.   When I finally got it, I thought it was hilarious.  Made more funny to me, I'm sure, because she always said it with a straight face and never once explained it.

When I think of the things my mother said that have stuck with me, I can't help but wonder what my boys will remember that I said when they were growing up.  I inherited mom's dry humor, but I don't think I ever carried a joke for as long and as seriously as she did.  

Mom died at the age of 69.  I turn 60 next spring and my sisters are 66, and almost 65.  I didn't realize nearly twenty five years ago (when I was not yet 35), just how young 69 was, but I sure do now.  And I sure do miss her...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A new "little" project...

It's been a good weekend.  Visited with old friends last night - my husband and I, and another couple and their teen daughter, traveled from two different directions to get there.  It was a good evening of catching up, we enjoyed listening to the teen play her clarinet (she's playing in an honor's orchestra this weekend), and our hostess's young adult daughter and her beau showed up.  We did some calculating and realized we hadn't seen her since her brother's wedding - 8 years ago!  It was one of those moments that it's so easy to let time slip by and never make happen.  So glad our hostess did - make it happen.  

And this afternoon I set to making some laminated art bookmarks and magnets.  The hardest part of this job is choosing the pictures to use - and knowing when I've cut out enough.

I have a couple of old art books that are in pretty bad shape, one had some water damaged pages.  I'd long thought of cutting them up and doing something like this with some of the small pictures in them.   It's a fun project, but like I said...  it's hard to know when to say "enough".   

With several pictures laminated and a whole bunch more to go, I decided I'd been at it long enough for today.  I'm leaving my mess out and tomorrow, hopefully, I'll be able to think more clearly about how many to do and, hopefully, I'll finish the job.

My second Spicier Life is coming along and I'd love to get it finished this week - or maybe the next. Since I showed so many in-progress photos of my other one, I'll skip that tonight.  It's the same pattern, just different colors.

To see what other YOPers are up to,

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Things knitting teaches me...

On Friday, I wrote about making a dishcloth a week - to try to work down my cotton stash.  So I spent some time online over the weekend checking out some patterns, and I started making the first block in the series of this KAL.  I thought the pattern would make a nice dishcloth.

Well...  over an hour in, this is what my cloth looks like:

Not much for over an hour's worth of work.  Not to mention the frustration.   

Oh, let me go head and mention the frustration.

First, I didn't understand the pattern.  I started, ripped back, and started over a couple of times before feeling fairly confident I understood what the pattern was saying.  But inside I wasn't sure that the whole problem wasn't with the pattern... (like I'm some sort of knitting expert.  FWIW, I'm ashamed of that thought now.  The pattern works perfectly).

And the kicker is, that last row I did over three times, and in the end I don't think it actually needed to be done over.  At all.  I think I just wasn't seeing my stitches correctly.

You can't really tell from the photo, but my stitches are all over the place tension-wise.  Switching back and forth from knit to purl stitches is still something I evidently struggle with.  

And to top it all off, it's too big for the size dishcloths I like.  Frankly... I just want to quit and go back to one of my tried and true patterns.  I don't want to work this hard to make a dishcloth.

And I can't tell you how many times I wished I had my scissors handy so I could cut off that long tail that kept getting caught in my knitting.   But did I bother during all 11 of the rows above to get up and get a pair of scissors?   


Just as I was about to rip the whole thing out and give up on this stitch pattern, it dawned on me that everything I was saying to myself about this silly dishcloth I was struggling to knit, I could apply spiritually or practically to my life.

How many times do I struggle with understanding how something is to be done?  Do I ask for help, look for examples to guide me?  Or do I just slog through, cursing and blaming the thing that is frustrating me?  

How many times do I, in haste, unnecessarily undo what I've done only to find out that I wasn't doing a thing wrong at all?  I just didn't have the eyes (or experience) yet to recognize what I was (or maybe wasn't) seeing.   Or do I sometimes look for the wrong evidences to tell me I'm actually doing just fine.  Maybe not perfect.  But certainly okay.  And sometimes okay is perfect for where I am in the process.

How many times do I willy-nilly wander into a task or situation of a spiritual nature, not taking stock of my spiritual state of being?  Or do the same with practical jobs, and not consider if I have the stamina, correct tools, or even know-how to finish the thing?  Or how many times have I blustered into a conflict in a relationship, determined to set right what is wrong, but forget to first take stock of my own issues or consider the "logs in my own eyes"?

How many times do I look at the mess I've made when trying something new and chide myself for it?  I should be able to do better than that, I often think - not remembering or accepting that for every new thing learned, there is a learning curve.  

I look at my uneven knit stitches and I think it looks like a child is making this.  And then I think...   Did I look at my small child's drawings with dismay and tell him one dinosaur looks like a dog, and another looks like an inchworm with stilt-legs?

Or tell him that pigs don't look like hippos?   
Or maybe that hippos aren't pink? Exactly?

Of course not.  I cherished those drawings.  I was pleased and proud of what he had drawn - not giving one thought that some day he would bring me drawings that were better.  I didn't want "better" from my young children.  I simply took pleasure in whatever creations they shared with me.  These drawings were perfect.

How many times do I want to just quit when something becomes too hard?  How many times do I mutter, "this isn't worth this kind of stress"?   Or think to myself, I can't believe I'm wasting my time on this?"

And lastly...  how many times do I stubbornly keep going on a task, tripping over something I've left in the way.  Maybe it's an actual thing I'm tripping over.  Maybe it's a small task that simply needs to be quickly done so I can stop thinking about it.  Or maybe it's something bigger - like I've hurt someone and I really need to make it right before I sit myself down to say...  work on a Sunday school lesson I'm teaching, or a Bible study lesson I'm to glean truths from.   I'll get to that other thing later, I tell myself, slowing my work down and frustrating myself in the process. Or worse... stifling God's working in my life.  Sometimes we simply need to get up and do what we need to do to get that niggling thing taken care of.  And then we can work with a happy, unencumbered  heart.

In case you haven't figure out by now...  I'm no longer talking about a knitted dishcloth, or knitting at all.


But I'm going to finish knitting this dishcloth - not because I think it's important to do so.  It's not.  I could cut the yarn, toss it away, and there's be no love lost.  No harm done.  A lot of time saved.

But no.  I'm going to finish knitting this dishcloth because it will give me the opportunity to mull over these kinds of thoughts for however long it takes me to finish it.  

And if it looks, in the end like a child knit it?  What does it matter?   I will appreciate that it's a first (of sorts) for me.  I will have learned some things about knitting in the process.  My tension will probably improve, and I may even memorize the pattern.

But more importantly, I will have meditated on what it means to be a child of God.  To be loved in spite of my unloveliness.  I also may learn some patience.  May have plenty of time to remind myself that even at my age, when doing things that are new to me, my first steps may be faltering ones.  I may even make some messes that need to be cleaned up.  And I may have to apply myself to the painful task of cutting out that which trips me up, that which encumbers me.   

Knitting this little dishcloth can challenge me to do some hard things I should do in my life, because it's in doing challenging things, we grow into maturity.  Physical, mental, spiritual maturity.

So when I next show the finished dishcloth, remember... it's not just an imperfectly knitted, no-account piece of cloth.  It's a whole bunch of life lessons.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  ~ James 1:4