Thursday, March 28, 2013

Psalm 139:13

Last week, my friend Debbie invited me to a baby shower.  A very special baby shower.

Let me give you a little background ..... Debbie has been the hostess of a small-group through  church for many years.  Lately, they have changed their focus from study to study and service in the community.

It is not unusual to find this group serving supper at the homeless shelter ..... or cleaning a community center for troubled youth.

Last week, they organized a baby shower for the Crisis Pregnancy Center ........... and I was invited!

First of all ........ Debbie is your gal if you want fun games at your parties!  Secondly, I am NOT your gal if you want to win at baby shower Family Feud!

The decorations were fun ... the food was wonderful!!

But the stars of the evening were the gifts.  Oh my goodness!

All the gifts were donated to help teens and young women get a good start for their babies.  I love this center as they teach parenting skills and help keep the young parents on track along with helping with the health needs of the expectant mother.

Diapers and wipes and pacifiers and some of the most adorable outfits EVER!!!  There were lime green jelly bean shoes that were just too cute!

I started to take pictures .... and obviously , had the wrong settings on my camera.  Instead of messing with it ... I gave up and joined in the fun of oooooh-ing and aaaaaah-ing.

But I wanted to make sure that the gifts I gave had a little homemade touch.


I loved this little hat.  In fact, I loved it so much .... I knit it twice!

Cuz you never know when some one might just name their baby Waldo!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Generation Gap .............

I have come to a conclusion. 

The Generation Gap is not about multi-colored hair, piercings or the love of Justin Beiber. 

It is about the life of stuff.

A little history ......... I grew up as a daughter of Depression Era parents.  My grandparents were thrifty, frugal people that just made do.  Nothing was really ever thrown out ........ just because.  They were keepers.

I grew up with cupboards made by my great-great grandfather.  We had beds that came down the Ohio River, up the Mississippi River and across the Illinois River ...... before the Civil War.  And I played with fabulous china dolls that were lovingly and carefully packed away in a cedar chest .... until my next visit with Grandma.

My parents too, were keepers.  When they were married 60 years ago ... they bought a sofa and chair.  Since that time, the sofa has been cut down to a loveseat ........ and both have been recovered more times than I can remember.  But they are still there.

I grew up to be a "keeper".

Honey and I sleep in a bed that was made in the 1880's.  An iron bed that belonged to my great-great aunt is in the guest room.  And the newest piece of furniture we have, is a sofa that I bought in 1990.

I was taught ..... you save your money and buy the BEST you can afford ..... take care of it and you will have it for a long time.  My parents had their Maytag washer and dryer for 25+ years.  Honey had his Whirlpool washer and dryer for over 20 years.

But me .... I decided that I wanted energy efficiency.  I wanted water savings.  I wanted to take better care of the clothes that I had.  So I bought what I thought ... was a quality washer and dryer that would last 15-20 years.

Obviously ... I did not buy a quality machine.  I bought their line!!!!

The saga of the washer continues ........ and the details are too long and boring to re-hash.  But here is a quick synopsis. 

  • Part #1 finally comes in .... was installed ... does not work.  Techs that live overseas inform repairman that we need part #2.  
  • Part #2 comes in 3 weeks later .... was installed ... does not work.  Overseas-dwelling tech says ....... Oh, part #1 must be faulty.
  • Replacement part #1 is ordered.
  • Owner of washing machine breaks down in tears.

I called the manufacturer, told her the current chain of events and got this response.....................

It is almost 5 years old.  What do you expect??

I'm almost 59.  Am I obsolete???  (Do NOT answer that!!!!!)

I have researched and researched washers.  I have read review after review.  And I have come to one conclusion................. Stuff doesn't last.

We are a consumer-driven society that has gotten used to replacing cell phones every 18 months and televisions every three years.  And let's not talk about computers!

As I look ahead to retirement and trying to live off pensions, 401K funds and social security........ it doesn't look good as I plan for needs. 

I am sooooo keeping this baby!!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This is the way ..................

Voss wringer wash machine ... made in Davenport IA in 1946.  67 years old and it runs every time!

we wash our clothes...............

Wash our clothes ....................

Wash our clothes.

Darn good thing I've got this book!

Wow!  It is older than me (as is the washer!!!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 22, 1996

There are words that instill fear in everyone.

Nuclear war.

IRS  audit.

Three week visit from your mother-in-law.

Blind date.

Now -- I had gone on a lot of blind dates in my life.  Some were great and a lot of fun.  Some were horrible.  And some left me babbling about my cats for two hours.

So a little history.  In 1996 I was poor.  Like dirt poor. You-can-never-be-so-broke-in-your-life poor.

I had a part-time job, a two-room apartment, a 10 year-old car and no phone.  I was poor.

And I was done with dating.  Totally.  Completely.  DONE.

All men were toads.

I was convinced that the next stop in my life was the convent.  Live with women.  Never mind the fact that I wasn't Catholic.  Or a lot of other things. I was never going to deal with dating again!

But a young gal that I worked with convinced me that I should go out with her father.

'Cuz her dad wasn't a toad.

So ... remembering the fact that I had no phone .... he had to come into the lumberyard that I worked at and ask me out. 

In front of an audience.

Why??  Because the  fore-mentioned  daughter told everyone in the store that he was going to ask me out.  I remember it as her announcing it over the PA system .... but she tells me that I am obviously senile and she did not do that!

I said yes ... and then the anxiety attack set in.

What do I wear???? Remember --- poor = blue jeans and sweatshirts.

Then ... the panic attack .... no, I am not going!!  I walked to the corner, called my BFF.  In true BFF-style, she told me to go .... get a doggie bag .... have a good time.

And she said ......... I have a good feeling about this.

Seventeen years later, the good feelings continue. 

The great thing about a truly wonderful relationship ........ it seems like you just met and it feels like you have been together forever.

Thank you, my Honey for taking a chance on me --- with my anxieties, insecurities and damaged soul.

Tonight .. we will celebrate that date 17 years ago with a little beer, a little pasta and a salad .......... with blue cheese dressing.

Love you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Date night .........

Friday is usually date night at the Lafrenz household.

Honey had a plan.  He wanted to go to the Bucktown Revue.

Grab a sandwich.  Meet up with friends.  Relax with some great Celtic, folk, bluegrass music and some wonderfully corny jokes and entertainment.

And me??  I wanted an intimate date with my pillow and blanket.  Yep .... it had been a long week with three classes to teach on totally different subjects.

As social as I am .... I can be a bit of a hermit at times.

But Honey doesn't ask much of me.  And he is Mr. Supportive here on the farm, at classes .... with everything I do. 

So I put on my big girl panties and said .... Let's go!

And  I am soooooo glad we did!!!!!

We always run into some friends .... hear local performers that we have never heard before .... and laugh a lot!  A lot!!!

One of our favorite performers was there......... Jon Eric.    This guy just loves to make music!!!  You can see the joy on his face and it dances out of his body as he performs!!!

At one point, they played an Earl Scruggs song (that I was not familiar with.... that really doesn't say much!)  ... there were 4 banjos, 4 guitars, 2 basses, 2 mandolins and a violin on stage!  A-Maz-ing!!!!

So ... if you aren't doing anything the 3rd Friday in April ..... pop over to the Annie Wittenmyer complex and have a delightful evening.  And say hi to the short gal with gray hair. 

But if you are tall .... please don't sit in front of her!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

What do you do .........

with all your time???

Yep.  I was asked that the other day.  Now .. it wasn't a rude question.  They just wanted to know what I did in the off-season.

I thought a moment.

And I quickly decided that I have two seasons to my life ........... growing and teaching.

And the teaching season seems to be growing!!!!

This week, I have three classes on three different subjects.  A couple of weeks ago -- I had 4 classes in the same week.

Tonight is the 5th of 6 sewing classes.

Wednesday ... I teach a bread class to  Scott Community College retirees.

Thursday ... it is a cut flower class.

One of my current projects is to sew something new every week of the sewing class.  And its just not sewing something new every week ........... it is sewing something that I would be proud to have analyzed, examined and critiqued.

As perfect on the inside as the outside.

Not just good-enough sewing.

This week .... I finished this dress.

As I said previously, I made this dress twice.  I got it done .. tried it on and it was much too big.  I ripped it apart and re-cut the pieces a size smaller.  It is a very full dress ....... almost tent-like.  (yea .. that's showing my age!!  Remember tent dresses???)

But it will be a loose comfortable dress to wear during the summer.

The fit is good ... the plaids match.  I would have loved beautiful chevrons but with the fullness of the back and the front was never going to match completely.

But all the seams are finished .... facings are carefully tacked invisibly in place.  And the hem is done neatly with tiny stitches by hand.

In the last four weeks, I have made two aprons, a dress and a pair of pj's.  This week, its another apron and hopefully, a pair of pj's for Honey.  If I can squeeze it in between bread baking and class handouts.

Maybe I don't have seasons ............ I just juggle!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Shop till you drop.

black duck

I am not a shopper.

Nope.  I'm not.

I tried yesterday.  I failed.

Yesterday, Honey and I played one-car shuffle.  Well -- not really.  I had the car while he worked.  And because of my to-do list, I decided it would be smart, eco-friendly and make economic sense to stay in town ................... all day.

All day.  :(

Ten hours in the QCA.

I didn't hear a single rooster.

I did well until noon.  I did laundry.  I did some banking.  I bought craft yarn.  I browsed through patterns and bought fabric.  I picked up toliet paper, sweatshirts and an iron.  I hit my favorite thrift store.  I bought underwear.

 I was done.

And it was only noon.

With 4 plus hours to go.

I discovered that I am very task driven.  I need X ... I go to the X store .... I buy X and I leave.

For the next four hours ......... I was lost.

There was the mall, a bookstore, a coffee shop ......... but I had no need, no task and therefore, no desire.

So I sat in the car and knit.


Next time ......... I'll stay home and make these.

heart kitty

yellow duck

singing birdie

At least I feel productive!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wishing & hoping & thinking & praying ............

If  .... by the rare chance ......... that you follow me on Pinterest , you might have noticed that there is a whole lot of pinning going on.

Yea ......... it is winter and my thoughts rapidly race toward spring.

And spring projects.

This spring and summer, the projects are focused on the house.

The restoration of the "front" of the house and the existing porch.

Unfortunately, none of the old photos of our house show any original porch trim.  Our oldest photo is from 1927.  By that time, the house was 35 years old and the porch had been enclosed.

So the search for details that are historically appropriate continues.

Source: via Cathy on Pinterest

So there will be a new look this year ......... from a new sidewalk and arbor.  To plantings and planting boxes.

Now .... if Honey and I can only agree on what we like!!!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Stationary ...........

As you know, January was tough.  I swear everything we owned stopped working.

And somewhere toward the end of the month, the truck died.

It wasn't a painful death.  It just finally (after 223,000 miles) said ..... enough.  We had prettied it up earlier in the month with new snow tires and a new battery but when it said ..... goodbye ... that was it.

Now .... that created a crimp in my style!  I was suddenly ............... stationary.

Ten hours a day ......... I am immobile.  I am on 1.75 acres.  That's my domain.

Now during the summer ....... not a big deal.  But in the winter,  it has been a little tough.

We looked at the budget.  Hmmmm.  Not a lot there for a car payment.

We could eliminate the 401K contribution. 

Not a good idea.

We could eliminate savings.

An equally bad idea.

We could eliminate our faith pledge to the church.

And I said ........ no.

We had gone through a series of sermons about being stressed, spending too much, needing too much and praying and trusting too little.

And for me ......... it was time to buck up and step up to the plate.  The collection plate.  Now was not the time to say ........... Wait a minute, God.  I just need a Mercedes-Benz! 

We kept the pledge and prayed. 

I prayed for obedience. 

I prayed for faith.

I prayed for answers.

If you know me well ........ you know that letting go of control is a biggie for me.  Its hard for me to say ....Let go and let God.

I always think ... if  I work harder.  If  I work longer.  If  I save more.  If  I am more frugal.  Things will be better.

But this time, I did let go.  I did let God find a way.

And He did.

Yesterday, Honey came home with a raise.  A surprise raise.  And enough to make a car payment every month without disturbing the 401K, the savings or our gifts to God.

Some of you may scoff.  Once upon a time I would have. 

And we will wait a bit before we buy that newer vehicle.  Save a little more.  Get by with a little less.

Life is good ........ but never stationary when you walk in faith and obedience.