Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back on my 2016 Booklist and a 2017 Book Announcement!

It's that time of year where we review our life. Quite frankly I had been discouraged by how little I accomplished. One of my goals was to work through my huge stack of books waiting to be read. I could only remember a few to share about. However, once I started perusing the bookcase, I was surprised by how much I infact have read!

First and foremost for me, is the Bible which I did read through this year. The pink binder contains my Bible Study Fellowship notes from this year's study of John, although I also studied Revelation last year. Each week we receive 6 pages that detail that weeks' study, full of 30-80  citations. (By the way  Bible Study Fellowship is international, teaches Scripture with Scripture, and has classes for men, women and children. I highly recommend it!)


These are the "young adults" books that I've read. The George Mason book was well researched. I blogged about it here. The bottom 4 books are from the incredible Landmark Series which I plan to blog on soon. Though written for kids, they are perfect not only for homeschool but also for big people to read too since history textbooks are so lacking in accurate content.


This is picture 1 of 2 of the "big people" books that I read. I actually read the couture sewing book a second time, which I blogged about here.
Last spring I was in major 18th century and George Washington mode, which is when I read the next 4 books. I blogged about Martha Washington: An American Life here. I shared a bit about Washington's Gardens at Mount Vernon, here, though I didn't think much of the premise of the book. Too far fetched for me! lol I had to separate fact from opinion with this book. However the photography was stunning!
After reading Dining with the Washingtons I toured Mount Vernon, again, with my daughter (and we got our photo with Abraham Lincoln). We toured the newly restored home and were shocked that they no longer use the dining room as the dining room, but now only as the reception and dancing room. I asked where all those guests that the Washington's were famed for having, ate? I was told in the little eating room. Um, what? I challenged them on that, and asked how in the world everyone would fit there. They said they were put out into the foyer to eat. What? We've always been taught that English  Country dance fit perfectly into the foyers and the dining room was perfectly large enough to hold all the numerous guests...then they could have pushed back the tables for the dancing afterwards (in my mind...but not according to their research, they said.) Also the  ugliest brown painted chairs were on the veranda on the back porch so I asked what happened to the gorgeous green chairs. I was told the brown chairs were painted brown to look like wood. Um, what? With sloppy drip marks? That didn't sound like proper historical conservation or restoration to me. Well, I guess they are the experts, but I have a hard time believing all that. lol So now I want to reread the Dining with the Washingtons book again to see if I missed something! lol
I got the Earl Hamner book when I visited Walton's Mountain, then I blogged about the book here, with two more posts to come.

I got all the Veith books at Patrick Henry College. He was one of my son's literature professors. I've blogged about Postmodern Times here and God at Work here. I attended 2 Constitutional Literacy Seminars with Michael Farris (who founded Patrick Henry  College) and Jenna Ellis in Feb 2016 which I blogged about here. This post also shares why many  of these books were the ones I chose to read this year. I haven't blogged about it but in October 2016 I got to attend their seminar again, in person! While there I bought the book that Ellis wrote The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution. I  shared a bit about here. I was on the Eric Metaxas booklaunch team for If You Can Keep It. I wrote several posts that are catalogued here.


At the top is this great book on Political Life in Eighteenth-Century Virginia which I blogged a bit about here.


Although I took several books with me when I had to drive and sit and wait for my kids, there were usually issues with reading them. I kept forgetting where I left off, so I resorted to crossword puzzles that my daughter has bought for me in the last few years. They have become a bit addictive and I'm figuring out the pattern to even the maddening advanced ones. I hope they are improving my analytic skills.


These are the books that I started reading but haven't finished, so I will pick them up again in 2017. You might note two copies of Wide as the Waters. I bought this years ago, read, it and learned a lot at the surface letter of the people and events. Later I read about it in Michael Farris' book From Tyndale to Madison which I shared a bit about here. Turns out Wide as the Waters was one of the inspirations for the Tyndale to Madison book.  So I began rereading it and wow! I started learning a whole new layer of information on liberty and freedom that I missed the first time. A few months ago I found the hardback copy of Wide as the Waters in the used bookstore for a great price. It's such a nice copy, it's such a great book, I couldn't resist. So now I have two copies!


Which leads me to the announcement! I am on another Eric Metaxas Booklaunch Team! This one is for the reprint of his book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About  God (But Were Afraid to Ask). From what I've seen of the book, is a great primer for those who are terrified of digging into deep thinking verbose apologetic books. I will receive my fee copy in a few weeks to start reviewing. Stay tuned!

Copy Courtesy Eric Metaxas Booklaunch Team
Image courtesy of the Eric Metaxas Book Launch Team

For a catalogue of posts I've done about  Eric Metaxas and his other works, see this post.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sewing a Pink and Purple Zipper Case for my Daughter

Last summer my daughter saw some patterns for zipper cases in the quilt shop, so she asked me to sew a large one for her for a Christmas gift. I gulped. I didn't think I could ever sew anything like that. Nevertheless I bought a pattern and some fabric...and procrastinated.

Earlier this month I attempted sewing a zipper case for my Secret Sister, because she wasn't expecting one. If I failed, I wouldn't send it. Although I had to significantly change some aspects of the pattern, everything worked out and it actually looked like a zipper case! It even worked like a zipper case!

A few weeks ago my daughter wanted to go shopping with me to choose the fabric. I assured her not only did I already have her fabric, but that she would love it. Purple is her favorite color. She likes traditional. Flowers are good. I bought the pink and purple for the fashion fabric. I had bought the yellow at the same time for a later zipper case for her, but while digging for a lining fabric I didn't realize I needed, well...I settled on the yellow.  The lavender toile was for the nterlining, because I don't like modern man made products as the pattern suggested. I always prefer using a fabric lining.


Two hours later I had a zipper case!


She wants to store her gel pens in here.


The zipper actually works!


She loved it!


Mission accomplished!


The ribbon tab I borrowed from her stash...


It will be fun to hear what her classmates say!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Peak at Christmas in our Home...and a Peak at an 18th Century Gown

It took me 3 weeks to decorate the house! It's never an easy task for me to figure out where to put things. This year I whittled down the decor and donated some extras to the Salvation Army. And I think I finally found a home for everything we like the most! Although I did not get everything done on my to do list, I think I did conquer where to put everything. Then I took pictures for next year's reference. This has been my year to focus on organization. With that one goal in mind, I think next year will be far more streamlined. Here's hoping anyway!

One of my nativity sets...


Also my family has developed an affection for multiple Christmas trees. A few years ago we were visiting our next door neighbor (you know him as the Patriot Honor Ride bicycle guy). His wife loves Christmas trees so she has one in nearly every room. All I could think of was, "Wow. That's a lot of work." lol My family gave me "the look." All they could think of was, "So, when is Mom/Laurie going to join the club?" lol Thus, my daughter and I unpacked the old artificial tree from Texas to put in our basement. It is decorated with candy colored lights, reminiscent of the San Antonio Riverwalk, and the misc ornaments.


Lanterns from Colonial Williamsburg with new decorations for the season. The greenery had been sitting in boxes for years, waiting for a home. The bows I made from new ribbon I had recently found.


Our real tree that my son chopped down.



I love this village that we collected back when my daughter was a baby.  It's simply from Walmart.



The train was a gift to my son, when he was a toddler, from my dad. I grew up with a train around our under-the-Christmas-tree-village. So this feels like home.


I bought this tiny ornament nativity set for a gingerbread nativity stable I had made with my kids when they were toddlers. I think they look quite cute on the chess/checkers table.



The French horn was purchased for a Medieval Feast history presentation we did years ago. This year I finally put a bow on it! 


Wish I could figure out how to effectively do lights in the garland on the stairwell in such a way that we don't trip over the wires. The garland used to be in the loft in our Texas house.



After all the kitchen reorganization I moved all the birdhouses to the main floor powder room...


I love these Boyd looking bears with my other bird house, which is also decorated...

IMG_2697 is tree #4 in the room where we mainly hang out! I got this on super duper sale to fit the space and to need little decorating! It comes partly flocked with red berries and pine cones and lights. As I  unpacked the box my son came in and took everything over, to my delight! Done! I did put all my Convention of States pins to the tree. Then I made a bow to put at the top! 



Two of my three snow globes. This one is a music box. I wanted as many nativity sets as possible, to showcase the Reason for the Season.



The window and birds from Colonial Williamsburg...


...the Governor's Palace gate and bird from Colonial Williamsburg!


The pointsettias I purchase as soon as possible after Thanksgiving so we can enjoy them as long as possible!


I have a thing for bows, berry rings and candles. These candlestick holders were free many years ago.


Another nativity set. I love grapevine! I'm still playing around with how to display these: on greenery (real or fake) v lace.


Changeable taffeta bow!


More berry rings!


Love these wise men...


My 18th century gown, still a work-in-progress. Love this lantern which looks very 18th century, with another newly made bow and some greenery from the box. Sometimes that bowl has candy in it.  My son bought some dark chocolate cherry cordials, which tasted very complicated yet decadently19th century. They didn't last long in that bowl.


The boxes (far left) in front of the piano were quite cheap and make great storage.


I have a thing for  kissing balls, as well.


I saw several in the store this year that I had to walk away from. So I succeeded in no new purchases of kissing balls this year.


Of course this one came from Texas!


In order to have more family time, I try to do a simpler dinner than in past years. Hence our English Christmas dinner...Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding!


My son took the family picture...


It was so nice to have a day together! We had a great time!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve, Candles, and Advent

Of all the traditions of Christmas, the most important to me is that of Advent. When my children were young, when we homeschooled, and our schedule was our own, we made time for Advent every evening of the Christmas season. Each night we read verses of prophecy from the Old Testament, sang carols, and sometimes did hands-on activities, most of which came from a book that inspired the tradition. All of the ideas in the book were based around weekly themes.

Now that the kids have moved on to college and jobs, Advent on a nightly basis had to be put aside because most times they aren't even home. Yet I  am deeply thankful that my family has wanted to continue this tradition, someway, somehow. Actually they were initially quite persistent that we stick to every single aspect of how the book did it, page by page. As my kids grew older, I was feeling more and more limited by the Advent book. Now that my kids were older, I thought we were ready to focus not on specific themes (which in itself is not bad, but I did feel limited in worship) but on Jesus and who He is, based on the Old Testament prophecies which became reality one night outside of Bethlehem. So now instead of only read through "these" Scriptures on only "these" weeks, we just split all the verses in the evenings we do have together and take turns reading aloud. It goes by rather quickly. It is beautiful. We don't need all the extra commentary from the book. All we need is Scripture. Then we sing carols of our own choosing and as many as we want,  rather than singing only one or two based on a theme. I plunk away at the piano, to help us keep pitch, and sometimes my son joins with his fife, and we sing whatever we want.

On the first night we do talk about how Jesus, the light, entered the darkness of the world. It is so beautiful, watching each week, the room becoming brighter and brighter.

Week 1:


Week 2:


Week 3:


Week 4:


Week 5:


Our Scripture reading has still been from the Advent book, which seemed to fly too quickly. We had finished all the Old Testament prophecies written out in the book in week 3. What to do for week 4? I came up with a new idea, to sing along to a Messiah CD!

As it was, my kids worked Christmas Eve. They closed the store early, yet they came home by 8pm. After changing clothes, the first thing we did was Advent. On this night we read Luke 2 then sang Silent Night acapella. So beautiful.

It is my goal this week to type out some weekly readings from Scripture that prophesy the coming Messiah. There are many more verses than the original book included. We would all enjoy incorporating more Scripture of the coming Messiah into our Advent readings.