Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Favorite purchased fall decor

This teapot may be my most favorite purchased fall item.  Love that leafy knob on top!
 I'm still hoping to blog at least briefly every day in October.  Yesterday I shared my favorite handmade fall decor; today I will share my favorite items that I've purchased or have been gifted with.  Quite a few years ago (about 15, I think) I realized that I owned very few fall-themed items with which to decorate for my favorite season.  So I made a few things, bought a few inexpensive things, and suggested fall items to my family as gift ideas for any occasion. 
The place mat is handmade and a gift from a friend.  The cake plate was a gift and the tiny gourds and pumpkins came from Jo-Ann's years ago.
 I bought the teapot above at Walmart several years ago.  I made the mat underneath it.  In the chippy green enamel dish at left you see the mini gourds again.  The teensy painted saw in front used to be a magnet; it was a gift my hubby bought at the Big E, years ago.  The pretty pumpkin at right is actually a candle holder.
Found this slate on clearance at Jo-Ann's some time ago.
Bought this from a country catalog last year
The harvest-y melamine plate behind the pumpkin is from Gooseberry Patch. 
Bought this tin "basket" at Jo-Ann's on clearance years ago.
Hope you have enjoyed this look at some of my favorite fall items!  Now what about you?  Do you have some favorite fall decor items?

Monday, October 05, 2015

Favorite handmade fall decor

Recently on my favorite craft forum, a friend asked, "Tell us what your favorite hand-made fall decoration is. Who made it? How long have you had it? If you made it yourself, what was your inspiration?"

That got me thinking and I thought the answers might be fun to share here at my kitchen table where I am trying to post on an October/fall theme every day this month.  I found that I had more than one favorite handcrafted fall decor item.

At the top of the post (as well as immediately behow) you see these Thanksgiving Candle Mats.  You can click the link to read the backstory, but I think these are my favorite fall craft I've ever done.

My next favorite is probably these Fall Flower Lights.  My granddaughter Sarah and I saved water bottles all one summer to use in making these.
My third favorite is probably these Little Fall Ornaments I made many years ago.  Follow the link to find basic directions. 
Apple ornament hanging from cabinet knob
Assorted ornaments
Just a few more
And another favorite is this Simple Embroidery Project for Fall which you could easily make using any fall saying. It's a super quick project which gives great results.  I made this in 2011, inspired by some framed embroidery I had seen at country shops.  This is a dollar store frame that sets off the embroidery perfectly, I think.

So there are my favorite handcrafted fall decorations.  What about you?  Do you have some favorite handmade fall decor?

Sunday, October 04, 2015

An October day at the fair

The last remaining CCC building on the grounds; the Deerfield fairgrounds used to be a camp for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s
Yesterday Mr. T and I took the day off and went to the Deerfield Fair.   We hadn't attended for many, many years but we just decided that this year we were going to make the time.  To our minds this is the best agricultural fair in New Hampshire.  It's a very large fair with all the rides confined to a smallish area and far more emphasis on the agricultural events.  There's a stock pulling ring, a tractor pulling ring, a horse show arena and a ring for the 4-H events.  You can go through the barns and we always enjoyed doing that when the kids were young.  Everything is so nicely decorated for fall, and there are loads and loads of eating places.  I had forgotten the camera, so we got a few pictures with my Kindle.

We planned carefully just what "fair food" we would indulge in, and we only got one of any item and shared it.  I think the only actual fair food -- as in deep-fried, not at all nutritious, items -- we got were a fried dough and a bloomin' onion.

We did take a bit of time and visit the CCC building and exhibit shown at the top of the post.  The Civilian Conservation Corps had its Pawtuckaway Camp here in the 1930s, and there is a good bit of memorabilia in this building, as well as loads of Deerfield Fair history.  Mr. T's dad was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps and had great memories of his service with the CCC, so we wanted to look around this building a bit.

Fireplace inside the CCC building.  Today was chilly and the fire felt great.
Fireplace from a distance.  Notice all of the fair ribbons hanging from the beams.
The horse pulling is one of our favorite things to watch.

The sign reads "Deerfield Fair World Championship Horse Pulling".

I'll close with a photo of our final fair food treat: a cider doughnut sundae.  A warm cider doughnut is topped with French vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Amazing.  This cider doughnut booth had long waiting lines, and now I see why!

And that was a small taste of our day at the fair!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

October's Bright Blue Weather

I made this graphic from a photo my husband took in our neighborhood some years ago.
I posted about this poem a couple of years ago, but I am trying to blog every day in October on the topic of October and autumn, so I thought I would share it again.  It's not a poem that very many people nowadays would necessarily be familiar with.

My mother loved this poem, as did my husband's father.  One could expect to hear either of them  quoting from it or referring to it on a beautiful October day.

October's Bright Blue Weather
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather. 
 ~ Helen Hunt Jackson

This poem is such an accurate description of October in New England.  It is simply beautiful.  Read the poem slowly, out loud if you can, and really picture what the poet is describing.  And you will know the beauty of a perfect October day in our region.

There were brilliant red "leaves of woodbine twining" on the the roadside stone wall near my parents' home.   And every time I read this poem I think of how my father-in-law shared his memories of his younger days.  He and his comrades frequently "sought sweet country haunts" as the poem describes.  They were true outdoors people who thought nothing of striking off through the woods to hidden places that they knew about.

May your October hold some wonderful bright blue days!

Friday, October 02, 2015

October 1953

Here is the Woman's Day 1953 calendar page for October!  I'm sure you've noticed that the dates from 1953 fall on the exact same days of the week as they do this year, in 2015.  Pretty neat!

This scene may depict a lake or even a river, but it reminds me of an oceanfront park my hubby and I visited in Maine.  We were there in early spring and so the trees were leafless, but there were trees like this on a sort of grassy embankment overlooking a bay.  I picture that park in the fall, and in my imagination it would look much like this.  A lovely place to while away a warm October day -- at a picnic table or in an Adirondack chair overlooking the ocean.

And the Scripture verse ... such a blessing.  There is no need at all for our hearts to be troubled or afraid if we know the Lord.  He is in full control of our world and of our lives.  He has a plan, and the outcome of that plan will always be for our good and for His glory.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

October goals

The gorgeous photo is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
How can it be the first day of October already?  Didn't 2015 just begin?  But it's true -- October is really here, and it's time for me to set some goals for the month:
*Meditate on a passage from God's Word each day.
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Continue study for Sunday School -- Following God With All Your Heart
* Continue to re-read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode; continue to journal and implement what I learn
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night. 
* Limit sugar and red meat.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Spend some serious time decluttering closets
* Post in my Christmas blog as often as possible
* Try and post in this blog every day in October (!)
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects
* Create and send gifts for November birthdays
* Create and send belated gifts for a September birthday
* Get serious about crafting Christmas gifts
* Apply wall decals to our freshly painted bathroom wall
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week consistently
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
* Attend a couples' retreat with my hubby
*  Continue trying to help and encourage my elderly dad
* Sort out and declutter my dad's basement
* Finish transferring important items to new computer
* Take a little getaway with Mr. T
* Have at least two couples over for supper
* Make a photo book
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating
* Do most of my fall decorating
* Plan a fall get-together at our home for our church family

OCTOBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully


And here is how September went:
*Meditate on a passage from God's Word each day -- DONE!
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- DONE!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- DONE!
* Continue study for Sunday School -- Following God With All Your Heart
-- DONE!
* Continue to re-read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode; continue to journal and implement what I learn -- not done
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- not done; I may have managed 15 times
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night -- not done consistently
* Limit sugar and red meat -- DONE!
* Drink enough water each day -- not done consistently
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- not done consistently
* Spend some serious time decluttering closets -- not done
* Post in both of my blogs as often as possible -- DONE!
* Continue working on several UFO craft projects -- DONE!
* Get together with friends Labor Day weekend -- DONE!
* Plan and create gifts for November birthdays -- not done
* Plan, create and send gifts for a September birthday -- not done
* Apply wall decals to our freshly painted bathroom wall -- not done
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week consistently -- not done consistently
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- not done
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Help and encourage my local daughter as I'm able -- not as much as I'd have liked
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- DONE!
* Attend a ladies' retreat -- DONE!
*  Continue trying to help and encourage my elderly dad -- DONE!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's basement -- not done
* Finish transferring important items to new computer -- not completely done, though progress has been made!
* Plan meals with a greater emphasis on healthy eating -- DONE!

SEPTEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Drink enough water/exercise/eat healthfully  -- did well with the healthy eating, okay with exercise (though there's plenty of room for improvement!) and not so well with water.

WORD FOR 2015: RENEWAL -- I'm so happy I chose this word for the year.  I need it in every area!

Now we will see how October goes ...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The SOAP method of Bible study

Vintage graphic from The Graphics Fairy
I've written about this in passing before, but haven't really put together a specific post about this wonderful method of meditating on God's Word.  I can't remember where I first read about the SOAP method, but have seen it many places since then.  One example may be found here: SOAP Bible study method.  It has certainly revitalized my quiet time, and I recommend this to anyone interested in digging into God's Word on their own. There are a few cautions with using this method, so I'll just be sharing the way that I go about using it.

Simply reading Scripture is wonderful, and of course I highly recommend it. But for digging a little deeper and  learning to apply it to one's life, something more is needed.  You will find with this method that you start seeing things in familiar verses that you never noticed before, mostly because you didn't previously slow down enough to really read every word or think about what you were reading.  Sadly, many times we just read a portion of the Bible to cross "Bible reading" off our daily to-do list.  And yes, I've been guilty of that!

One concern that some people have expressed about this method of Bible study is that sometimes verses will simply be chosen at random.  You know -- sort of like opening the Bible anywhere and just picking a verse to study.  I don't recommend that.  God is a God of order, and I believe we will get more out of His Word if we are less random with it.  So, in choosing your verses, I recommend that you either read through a chapter or a book, or your daily Bible reading, and choose a few verses from there,  or use a reading plan for a Bible study (like the ones from Love God Greatly, for example).  I am currently finishing up with their Made for Community reading plan.  I believe their study of Galatians is ongoing now. Any of their reading guides would be a great place to start with the SOAP method, and you can download any of them for free.  There are many other good Bible study plans out there as well.

Another concern that I've read about the SOAP method is that in your observation of the verse (see below) it's very easy to take the verse out of context -- and that can change the meaning completely from what the writer intended.  So as you will see, when I make my observations of the verses, I do all that I can to be sure I have the context right.  I've never been to Bible school or taken any Bible classes, so I want to be extra careful.  And also, it is very interesting to consider when the verses were written, who the intended audience is, and so on.

So, if you've never done this before, you are probably wondering -- What exactly does S.O.A.P. mean?  It's a simple acrostic.  Here it is:

S- The S stands for Scripture.  For this first step, you take up your Bible and a pen and notebook and actually write out the Scripture verses you are studying that day.  Sometimes it's truly amazing what you notice when you take the time to slow down enough to write out what you are reading.  You may well see things that you never noticed before.

O- The O stands for observation.   Write down what you see in the verses you’re reading. I like to use a study Bible and I will often go back to the summary of the book to see who wrote it and what his intended purpose was.  I note too who he was writing to -- who his intended audience was and what was going on in their lives right then.  I also like to read the relevant verses on either side of the ones I'm studying to really get the context.   Is there a repetition of words? Do some words stand out?  There are certain words that prompt me to ask questions.  If a verse begins with "but" or has the word "but" in it, there will be some change of direction in the thinking or teaching, so I note what that is.  Another word prompt is "therefore".  I always ask myself what it is "there for".  Because of something that went before, "therefore" something else is happening or needs to happen.  Again, I need to be a detective and find out what that is.

I often summarize the main points of the verses I'm reading.  Other times I try to restate them in simpler terms.  If I am reading several verses or if my verse has several points, I might state the main points in a bulleted list or in the form of an outline.  My goal is to get at the meaning of the verses as much as possible.  Once in awhile I will even turn to a commentary, a Bible dictionary, or a Bible study of a particular book to help me understand a little bit more.

A- The A stands for application.   This is making God’s Word personal.  How can I apply what I just read to my own personal life? Are there changes that I need to make? Is there an action that I need to take?  Sometimes it's a sin or character flaw I see being addressed in the Scripture and need to address in my own life.  Other times it might be a principle I need to put into practice.  There is always some way I can apply what I just read. 

It might not be something I need to change, but instead might be something I need to thank or praise God for.   Sometimes, in the psalms, for instance, I will read something the psalmist is praising God for which may echo something God has done in my own life, and I will want to praise Him for that.  Or I may read about an attribute of God that I can see at work in my own life -- His mercy, for example, or His love -- and again, I will want to praise Him for that. 

(And never forget that without applying God's Word to your life, anything you study is just reading and learning -- it is not spiritual growth.  Application must be happening for real spiritual growth to take place.)

P- The P stands for prayer. Here's where you pray about applying what you have learned.  If He has revealed something to you during this time in His Word, that you need to change,  pray about it. Confess if He has revealed some sin that is in your life.  Ask Him to help you make the necessary changes.  Pray God’s Word back to Him. If it is a matter of praising God for one of His attributes or for something specific He has done in your life, spend some time in praise and thanksgiving.  I usually write out a simple prayer for this point so that I don't forget what I prayed about.  I most often do this SOAP journaling just before my prayer time, so when I pray I simply incorporate this written-out prayer into my time for that day.

For journaling Scripture using the SOAP method, what has worked well for me is a simple composition book like this:
You can find them in many different colors and patterns.  I've had this pink and orange argyle one for awhile.  These can often be found at Walmart or the dollar store for $1, but recently, for back to school, Walmart had them for 50¢!  You will be surprised at how much journaling you can fit into a book like this.  I have notes from two retreats, a study of planning/time management, and two Bible studies in this one!  I also like that this size of notebook allows space for me to glue in (well, I use double stick tape; less messy) my reading guides for the particular study I am doing:
Made for Community -- the study I am just finishing up
Psalm 119 study that I have finished
I have used smaller journals, but have found that this size works best for me all the way around.

I also like to use two alternating colors of ink to help me see which point of the SOAP I am on.  For example, I will write out the Scripture in black ink, and my observations in blue ink, then the application in black, and finally the prayer in blue ink.   It's just easier for me that way.  You could choose any colors of ink you prefer; just make sure whatever you choose is easily readable, because you will likely want to go back and re-read your journaling over time.

Studying God’s Word like this can take as little as 15-20 minutes, but I find that most days it takes me somewhat longer.  Whatever the amount of time it takes, it's well worth it to me for the learning and growth that results.

How do you study God's Word for yourself?  Have you tried the SOAP method?  What do you think?