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Proverbs 31 baby

Arianna is very hospitable.

She welcomes an eclectic mix of folk.

She sets a lovely table,

with the finest of china.

She makes sure the guest of honor has the most comfortable seat

and is most comfortably situated.

She pours so carefully,

and she is loved so much.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
Proverbs 31:20

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The girl’s got me pegged.

Mrs. Mayne has been gently encouraging me to start piano lessons…. for a long time. A very long time. I’d like to, I tell her, but I’m completely tone deaf. Seriously… it’s like a developmental disability or something. I’m the only person in the entire history of Chautauqua Central School to be kicked out of the junior high choir… Miss Greg called me up in front of the class one day to remark that she thought we’d both be happier if I dropped out.

“Oh yeah,” I laughed as I sauntered out of the music room and down to the office. I switched to a study hall… I think. Oh yeah, my friends and I had a good laugh about that one. yeah.

Precious memories, how they linger.

“Besides, I don’t have the time,” I told Mrs. Mayne. “I’d love to start piano, but I really can’t spare the time. I’m just soooo busy,” I shook my head.

“Okay,” she’d smile. And we’d talk about the kids or church or the ridiculous new law that prohibits the burning of one’s own leaves in one’s own yard. Or her grandchildren. Or rhubarb.

But then one day Mrs. Mayne gave me a present…

“These are easy arrangements,” she said. “I can teach you to play these.”

“You can?” I asked.

“Yup,” she said.

Ply me with vintage hymn books, Mrs. Mayne and I’m putty in your hands.

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I love the way He operates

A year ago, my daily quiet times of Bible study and prayer were the high points of my day. Opening my Bible was the first thing I did every morning… right after getting myself a cup of coffee. I sat propped up in my bed for at least an hour, reading multiple passages and writing copious notes in my study journal.For the last several decades of my life, my daily periods of scripture study and prayer have been a constant. Day in and day out, during vacations and Christmases, with newborn babies and angsty teens, as a newly-wed and as a newly-single-mom, I never missed a day. I never wanted to… that meeting with Jesus was the thing that coaxed me awake some mornings. Always my time with Him was what got me through to the evening. Back then, if you had told me that there would come a time when I would struggle with maintaining a daily study time, I would have laughed. I would have patted your hand and maybe given you a hug…an oh-so-patronizing sort of hug, because I would have been sure you were wrong.

But then a few weeks ago, as I was writing the date at the top of the page in my prayer journal, I noticed something: there were some dates missing. And as I flipped back through the pages, I saw other gaps… a single day. Two days. A weekend. I remembered mornings when – somewhere between fetching my cup of coffee and opening my Bible- something else grabbed my attention. Never anything terribly urgent or important, just things like getting an early start on the laundry or making something a little extra for breakfast; maybe checking my email, maybe finishing up a blog post. Little things, but by the time I was done, my cup of coffee was empty and the kids were starting to stir. It was almost time to leave for Mamie‘s, or past time to get started on school. I always planned to have my quiet time later in the day…. but usually I didn’t. Usually I forgot.

In other news: Yard sales. I like ‘em… as does Noah. Over the weekend while we were out- ostensibly fetching paint- the two of us ended up stopping at one sale after another. “This is the last one,” we’d promise each other every time I parked the car, and we’d grin. We’d grin because we knew that driving along not five minutes later I’d spy another hand lettered sign. I’d slow down just for a quick look. I’d spy a table of glassware-that-could-possibly-be-jadeite and we’d just have to stop. Just for a quick look, dontchaknow. Turnabout’s fair play, so when Noah saw the EXACT WHEELBARROW HE NEEDED TO DO THE YARDWORK PROPERLY, we stopped yet again. Noah quickly checked the dollar bills in his pocket and charged off to stake his claim on the barrow, while I toddled along behind.

Well, other than the aforementioned wheelbarrow, the pickin’s were pretty slim. I aimlessly sifted through tables spread with rusty screwdrivers, mismatched pieces of Tupperware and other assorted leftovers from someone’s life. Then underneath some harvest gold polyester net curtains I caught a glimpse of little bit of a pale green painted something. It was something wooden; faded, worn and painted that distinctive pale green that was so commonplace during the 1930′s and 40′s (which just so happens to be my favorite color.) I pushed aside the curtains and, with the side of my hand, smoothed dust from the cluster of little blue flowers painted on the green surface.

“Oh my goodness, ” I thought. “What’s this?”

It was a tiny little folding table of sorts; my nana would have called this a bed tray. A little old pale green wooden bed tray with a rim ’round the edge and blue painted flowers. Blue painted flowers that just match the blue of my old faded bed linens. A tray to hold my Bible open to just the right spot. A little rim to hold my journal steady while I write those notes I so dearly love to write. Sturdy little turned legs to bear the weight of my cup of coffee… and maybe a cinnamon roll.

Okay girls, you can call me a crazy-pants if you want. Go ahead, call me a froot-loop. Say I’m a loon. Everyone turn to their neighbor and say, “Yup, the girl’s a flake fo sho.” I don’t care. But seriously, when I first caught sight of that pale green paint, you know what I thought? I thought of Him, reaching out and giving me a bit of a nudge. Smiling and whispering a little confidential bit of a whisper.

“I miss you,” He was saying.

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There are times I wish I were thin.

Honestly those moments don’t happen all that often. True, my figure is more reminiscent of a Weeble than of an hourglass. And yes, my circumference rivals my height, but no matter. One of the perks of being a single gal is that one’s appearance need only please oneself… and I’ve always found chubby little old ladies rather adorable. So yeah, I’m basically happy with the way I look. That said, the urge to be slim and svelte does well up within me from time to time, mostly when I come upon a lovely old pattern from a by-gone age. The age when adult patterns came with bust measurements like 30 inches and the sizing for “stout girls” started with a 36 inch bust.
Oh my.

Case in point: this robe pattern. Sigh… scallops, a pert little side tie belt and a neat A-line shape… ladies, it has rick rack for crying out loud! I’d make a couple of these up for myself exactly as pictured; the pink one with the scalloped trim in a thick cozy cotton flannel for winter and the yellow in a cool sateen for summer. I imagine myself moving serenely through my early mornings dressed in a perfectly fitted version of this robe (most likely with perfectly coordinated embroidered slippers as well.) Oh yes indeedy, I’m CONVINCED that this robe is all I need to experience serene mornings. The problem is, I can only find the pattern in a old size 14 1/2, which fits out for a bust measurement of 33 inches. Thirty-three inches! Cripes, even when I weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet my bust measurement was larger than that! Millen’s bust measurement is larger than that! Which means I can’t even make this pattern up for her and enjoy the loveliness vicariously. Sheesh.

It’s almost enough to make a girl give up butter… almost.

But not quite.

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A picture from my Monday morning

Nothing special…. just a tacky little dish* of egg wash and a triple batch of cinnamon rolls rising on top of my stinkin’ adorable

1940′s Frigidaire range!

Dontcha just love her? I do. Even though half the burners don’t work, the oven is practically microscopic and doesn’t even heat consistently, I am besotted by her loveliness. Ahhh… that creamy white enamel paint, that chrome, all those subtle curves! O be still my heart.

*I’m beginning to find tacky little 1970′s things irresistibly adorable. This concerns me on a deep level.

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Lots to say, lots to say, but first things first… would you get a gander at these shoes?

Go ahead click on the picture. Double click while you’re at it.
. observe the gorgeous leather, the perfect tiny stitches, my hideous support hose.

At least half a century old, handmade of kidskin and silk, they’d never been worn until I put them on my little tootsies and girls… they fit like a dream. Sigh, my love for these shoes simply cannot be expressed in bloggity form. My favorite thing about ‘em? How perfectly they match with my green polka dot dress and the cream cashmere sweater my dear mama got me this past Christmas. It’ll take some truly epic garments to knock this off the favorite-outfit-pedestal, that’s for darn sure. O yeah.

Alrighty now that we got that out of the way… on to other things. Such as for example, I’ll bet you’re wondering how things turned out on the mortgage front, huh? Well, they’ve turned out quite well; peachy-keen as a matter of fact. Couldn’t be better actually. The Lord has given me my brand spanking new mortgage start with no scary back payments looming in the shadows. I have a blessedly lowered payment which gives me a few extra dollars in my budget each month. Which means I’ll be able to take care of some of the repairs this old house needs (such as oh, maybe an actual functioning faucet in the upstairs bathroom.) I’m planning on putting a grape arbor and some raspberry canes in my minuscule backyard. And… oh wondrous bliss… I’ll be able to funnel a few dollars each month into a savings account. I’m living in a state of heretofore unimagined financial ease, and I like it.

So yeah… life is good. God is good.

And seriously now, aren’t those shoes perfection?

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming…

… to talk about something cute. Swirl dresses!

Swirl dresses were a specific brand and design of wrap dress that was popular in the mid-twentieth century. And don’t be fooled by that nine dollar price tag… these little darlin’s weren’t cheap. A Swirl bought in 1952 for nine bucks would cost about seventy-two of today’s inflated dollars.*

They fastened with a single button at the nape of the neck, then wrapped ’round and tied in the front.

Swirl dresses were usually made of bright cheerful fabrics and had fun lighthearted details such as the gathered neckline and pockets on the above dress, and the screenprinted fruit on the one below.

Some were ornamented with embroidery,

others made imaginative use of border-printed fabric.

In fact after perusing dozens of pictures of Swirl dresses online, it seems that the styling was only limited by the imagination of the designers… so yeah, basically more cute-ness than a body can absorb in a single sitting.

And yes, those really are screen printed cowboy hats and lariats
on the stacked pockets of this little beauty.

Not surprisingly both Amelia and I have been utterly smitten with the Swirl dress, and I’ve promised to make her one of her very own. In fact I’m positively drooling at the prospect. After searching high and low, I’ve found a vintage pattern which seems to mimic the basic shape of the original Swirl dress design…

So with that pattern in hand and my embarrassingly overflowing stash of vintage and repro fabrics to choose from, it looks like we’re pretty much set… all we need to add is a healthy dose of imagination.

And of course the two of us’ll have no problem there. No prob at all… nuh uh.

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Decisions, decisions

After almost an entire year with no purchases, or rather no frivolous purchases (or perhaps more accurately, no guilt-free frivolous purchases,) after a year of that kind of restriction, stopping in at the thrift store just for fun feels like a radical act of self indulgence. Still… I’m managing to adjust. Mmhmm. yeah.

So anyway, the other day, Noah and I made a quick dash into the Goodwill and I was tickled pink to find this brand-new-still-in-its-1960′s-era-package percale double sheet, all 108 x 81 gorgeous rose and dogwood covered inches of it. I think it’ll make up into a sweet little Easter suit for Millen

or maybe a lovely summer dress for me.

It’d be perfect to make into matching spring aprons for all the coffee shop gals

or maybe a lovely summer dress for me.

The fabric is ideal for that Swirl Dress repro I’ve been promising to make for Amelia

or maybe a lovely summer dress for me,
with green gingham facings and black bias trim… ooh sweet!

I don’t know.. I just can’t quite decide what to make out of this lovely fabric.
But of course you know what I’ve already decided.

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Don’t visit Andrea

I really shouldn’t visit Andrea over at Unsung Sewing Patterns… visits there do not foster a spirit of contentment within me. She always features a pattern or two from her own personal collection (a collection which I deeply covet, by the way.) They’re usually patterns for aprons or smocks or housedresses (you know, the type of thing for which my appetite is insatiable.) Sometimes after spending time at Andrea’s, I go over to Ebay or Etsy to search (always in vain) for a copy of her featured pattern in anything close to my size. After that, I usually search through my own (admittedly copious) pattern collection for a style I can adapt to whatever bit of adorable-ness she’s featured. And after that I just wallow about in an embarrassing state of covetousness… until I’m mercifully distracted by something else, that is.

The other week Andrea shared a pattern for a WWII era “coverall apron,” and yeah, it was adorable as usual. But what was really nifty (and especially lust inducing) was the link she provided to the original pamphlet that pattern hailed from: a collection of work clothing designed specifically for the women of that era. New styles! I mean, obviously these women needed new clothes, right? After all, what self-respecting gal would ever wear a bungalow apron while working in the fields? Or a Hooverette to the factory? Unthinkable, surely! With the styles featured in this pamphlet (patterns sold separately) every industrious gal could be well dressed for whatever occupation she filled. So nice to know the Department of Agriculture had all the essentials covered, mmhmm. Yup.

I might possibly be induced to operate farm machinery
if I could manage looking this sweet whilst doing so.

Doesn’t this cool little housedress look the perfect thing for hot summer days?

If there were anything that could get me back into a pair of pants,
it’d be this set of “jumper-slacks.”
And those two-tone oxford sneakers… I’ll take a pair o’them too.

I. Want. This. Coat.
I want to make it up in some sort of “gay printed oilcloth”
or waxed cotton and have it for a raincoat.
I want those “boxed mittens.”
I need those bias cut leggings.

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