Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Apologies for odd title – this is really just a small excited shriek to my friend Rapunzel because I promised her I’d let her see the results when I’d had a go at making a pinny thing of my own (and you can all have a look too).

Well it didn’t all go quite as I hoped – I mean I didn’t have a pattern or anything, I just started off with a bit of cloth and hoped for the best, so I had to kind of stitch some folds in it and stuff to make it fit.  But it did work out, sort of – so anyway this is what I made.

It has five pockets – one at the top for my glasses or shopping list or whatever, two patch pockets in the normal place for pockets, then hidden within/behind the patch pockets, two smaller ones for bus tickets or church collection money or other things that mustn’t be lost.

I made a little pleat at the centre front, but though I thought it seemed like a good idea at the time I think maybe it looks a bit odd now . . . oh well, never mind . . .


When I posted about my room, a couple of you made a comment about clothes, and Rapunzel said if she’d been there she’d have asked me to get up and do a twirl.

Recently she was kind enough to do that very thing for me on her own blog, and if you scroll down a bit you can see the photo of her in her beautiful home-made outfit here – plus description of how she made it; not only homemade but adapted from second-hand – hurrah for simplicity!!  Well done that girl!

My criteria for clothes are that they should be modest and feminine, preferably made with natural fabrics, in quiet colours.  I love old and faded cloth, so I like to make hats out of old tea-towels and skirts from old sheets or tablecloths.  I like to make use of second-hand pieces of fabric (old sheets and duvet covers are the best) from charity shops, which pleases me because they are local, second-hand and in support of a good cause – so that blesses Mother Earth and the human community, and all at a fractional cost.

Some of my clothes come from regular shops – my very favourite are White Stuff and Landsend, and I scrutinise the social policies carefully online to make sure I am not buying from horrific slave traders.  Underwear bottoms come from Patra – pure silk, cool in summer and warm in winter; underwear tops usually from Marks & Spencer.

This is what I’m wearing today. 

I think my face looks a bit strange in this picture, but I am not great at having my photo taken, plus the Badger had gone down on one knee to take my photo, and I was trying not to laugh.

I like to have not too low a neckline and a modesty over-boob layer, either a cardigan or just a couple of layers of clothes like one naturally does in winter, or a sleeveless tunic pinny kind of thing like the one I’m wearing today.  I got this from a market stall – so self-employed sole trader with low carbon footprint plant, low price clothes; and it was made in Italy which is probably a good thing as they’re struggling a bit over there at the mo.  I love the design of this pinny thing.  It’s asymmetrical at the back.

Once the weather turns chilly, a gilet (Ha! Chilly gilet! I like it) is good for both warmth and modesty. 

That furniture behind me is what I had before the Badger made my lovely shelf unit. 

Some days in the summer it’s just too hot for layers, as it was the day the Badger and I went for a wander in a water garden near Norwich, where we met this amazing tree.

Here’s the Badger on the other half of the same tree which was too big to get all of it in the photo.

It was a sapling during the time of the Battle of Hastings (1066AD).

Sometimes it’s too hot even for a hat or a modesty layer – almost too hot for clothes really – and then I look like this.

Top from White Stuff and skirt is a re-made duvet cover that was second-hand from a charity shop and blessed our bed for several years before we were given a new duvet too big for that cover – so it became two skirts.  The train is a dear little 15-gauge railway steam train.  We went on a long ride through the Norfolk countryside in it.  Because it's so small, we rode along at the same height as the grain fields and the wild flowers - oh, we had such a lovely time.  Why aren't all things small and simple?

But most of the time I wear hats which are either scarves or fabric stitched by me into caps.
The scarves tie up like this

Looking like this from the side.  

This is a long thin shape of scarf (bought from a small family business in the little market town where my beautiful mama lives).  I cut the long ends down to make a long thin triangle instead of a long thin rectangle.  When it was a rectangle it looked like this and I thought the effect too bulky. 

Now it sits more neatly. 

Some of my scarves are large squares of ultra-fine Indian cotton – they used to be found everywhere but are surprisingly hard to get hold of now.  Here’s a dark blue one I have.

It looks like this from the side.

So, similar to the long thin triangle one but a bit more substantial.

Most days though I wear one of my favourite home-made hats – this one

Or my very favourite, which is this one

Which looks like this from the side.

For the colder weather I have some beanies and wind a scarf round them, like this - 

- which I like but is way too hot for summer weather.

My shoes are very precious, being hard to source because I have feet like a frog’s – long, wide, soft and shallow.  They blister very easily, need a wide footbed but not a deep shoe, and are too long for the women’s range in almost every case. So all the closed shoes I have are men’s shoes, but either Italian made or barefoot shoes, which makes them less deep and heavy than men’s shoes generally are.  I have to get this right because I don’t have a car, so when the Badger is away I walk (at least as far as the bus stop!!) when I go out.
I wear Birkis (I have 2 other pairs) and Vivo Barefoots (I have one other pair).

I have two pairs of sturdy winter boots.

I have a snuggly pair of Shepherd slippers that the Badger bought for me in York when we went up to visit the nuns, and the black shoes are kept for taking funerals.

And when it gets cold I have my big grey fleece hoodies to wear over the top of everything and keep me warm.

 Everything packs down neatly and folds up.  The old duvet skirts are jolly good because they are poly-cotton so don't get so crumply.  I don't normally iron anything.  I feel comfy in these things.  I wore trousers for a while but a) I put back on the weight I'd lost and they looked atrocious and b) I always feel vaguely undressed in trousers.  Like my head doesn't feel finished off without a hat.

Now you may feel a little bewildered by this outburst of narcissism, but I know I really love it when my friends post photos of themselves - I spend ages looking at them.  And the Wretched Wretch likes to have pics to look at on his mummy's computer of his friends and family near and far.  So there we are.  That's my simplicity journey wardrobe as of the present time.  I feel it lacks some American homespun checks but have been having a little bother with shrinkage so that project may take a while.


365 366 Day 240-250
Monday August 27th  to Thursday 6th  September
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

 A great heap of all kinds of stuff - a mop, a basket, a box of assorted hardware, a basket of electrical equipment - loads of things!

365 366 Day 239 – Sunday August 26th  

I wasn’t quite sure whether to post this – if it is exactly a thing given away or not – but I thought I would, because I think it’s relevant.  In chucking out stuff, a lot of boxes and wrapping etc has become redundant – and some of the things I weeded out were papers and letters, various old documents.  But I didn’t just put them in the recycling bin; if they could be burned I kept them and they were handy for occasional fires – the breakfast time sort that are welcome but don’t need to go on for a long time. 

World-View Wednesday: Loving Jamaica's Orphans

A few weeks ago, our youth group traveled to Jamaica to work with Embracing Orphans. As youth leader on our first international trip, I felt a bit of trepidation about all the details coming together, not to mention being mom leader to 15 youth, most of which were babies in their families!!! {thank goodness, we didn't realize that until we were home. haha} We worked with Embracing Orphans, who does much of their work in the Montego Bay area, and reaches out to orphans and teenagers with the love of Christ. I knew that we would be spending a lot of time at the Blossom House, a state-run orphanage, and just loving on the kids there. You would think I'd have been just ecstatic at the opportunity, but I have to admit that I was nervous! Yes, really. After having spent a total of 3 months in Guatemala with ORI at an orphanage, I had a bit of an idea of how exhausting it really is!! I spent the weeks leading up to the trip reading a book called "Preparing your heart before you pack your bags". I highly recommend this book to anyone who is planning to do short-term missions. It was a huge help in just preparing my thoughts and emotions for what was about to happen, as well as focus in praying for our time there. And what a great trip it was!!!

We stayed at a hotel called the Verney House Resort, and it had a pool. How "cool" is that? {And here you thought we were staying in shacks!} It was truly a gift, after hot days at the orphanage. I felt like I sweated non-stop! Lovely thought, isn't it?

The food was delicious! We were served jerk chicken and rice and peas for almost every dinner, and it hit the spot. But I will admit, by the end of the week, I was ready for some good American cooking again :)

Jamaica is a beautiful country! This lovely spot was the site of JRM, the Jamaican Relief Ministries, where our friend Mandie lived for 1 year. It was originally a restaurant where famous musicians like Jonny Cash played music! We did some painting on a house that will be used for the houseparents of this organization. I could have stayed here for days; this spot would be perfect to vacation in!

We visited this beach one afternoon, and had 1 hour of bliss before the tropical storm swept in! It was a gorgeous spot; I would have loved to have stayed all day, if it wouldn't have been pouring rain!! 

I'm so grateful for the other couple who went along as leaders: Andrew & Mandie. They added so much to our group and brought experience of the culture and a heart for the kids. Mandie knew where all the great restaurants were too! This was taken at Pier One, a restaurant on the pier. It was a gorgeous night and we ate and talked while the sun set.

But the best part of the trip wasn't the beautiful things we saw, or the delicious food we ate; it was loving the Jamaican orphans. The boys pictured above are children that a friend of ours cared for while she lived in Jamaica. Their story is heartbreaking, like so many of the stories of each of the kids we come into contact with at the orphanage. My experience working with the children this time was different from the last time. I am now a mom. When I snuggled little babies, I saw Hadassah. When I kissed sleepy heads, I thought of her and my heart just broke to think that they have no mommy to hold them, rock them and sing to them. The caregivers there are wonderful, but it's almost impossible to give 57 children everything they need. They soaked up the attention that we gave them and completely stole our hearts! Yes, it was exhausting. And some days, four o'clock could not have come soon enough! But it was life-changing. One of the directors with EO shared that he prayed for our group and asked God to break our hearts for what breaks His, and by the end of the week, it was clear that happened!! We played with the kids, laughed with them, hugged them and prayed over them. Our prayer is that God will not only heal the physical scars, but those that are invisible: the scars in their hearts. I pray that there will be families who will choose to love them forever. I pray that they will meet Jesus, the only One who heals broken hearts and is a Father to the fatherless. And I pray that I never forget, and that I never "get over" this experience. Will you pray with me for these precious children today?

Barn Sale Event

I am super excited to announce an upcoming local event,
the Perennial Favorites Barn Sale!
It's sponsored by my sweet friends, Amy at Roller Mill Farms, Amy at Amelia Bedelia and I.
A variety of handmade & vintage goods will be for sale, including
  • Hair accessories & chalkboards from Amelia Bedelia
  • Vintage furniture & decor from Roller Mill Farms
  • Various signs & typography products from yours truly!
  • Monogrammed items
  • Homemade soaps
  • Handmade journals
  • Crocheted baby hats & handmade bib/diaper sets,
along with homemade doughnuts and a pumpkin-painting booth for the children!
Don't miss this fun fall event, and be sure to stay awhile to shop, chat and eat!
We look forward to seeing you there!!!

The legacy for me

July 20, 1969.  Were were leaving on vacation late at night (to get a head start on driving) with a family friend, and we sat around Mrs. Grogan's black and white TV watching Neil Armstrong step down on the moon before we left.  Now tributes are pouring in on what an extraordinary man he was, how he could have had anything after his milestone journey, but he chose to stay out of the spotlight and shun publicity.  I even read where he didn't make a habit of signing autographs "to be sold to the highest bidder."

So don't offer me any money for this little gem above.  Maybe he took pity on me since I was in high school, maybe my letter was irresistibly eloquent (unfortunately, I didn't keep a copy), but for whatever reason, after I wrote him an admiring letter, Neil Armstrong mailed me this photograph which I have treasured ever since.

All the tributes in the media really made me think.  Society has the custom of heaping praise on people once they're dead.   Everywhere there are eulogies, documentaries, dignitaries weighing in on the important influence this or that deceased person has had on society.  All well and good.  Do we ever think to tell them while they're alive?  Sometimes not, at least not to this degree.

I remember on my mom's 70th birthday, we held a surprise party for her in the hall of her church.  Old friends came, relatives from near and far as well, and all the guests signed their names in the guest book.  I recall as I looked through the guest book, I had the vision for a moment that it was a memorial book - you know, the kind they have in funeral homes.   But it wasn't in memory of - it was in honor of - and I can tell you with a smile how much fun we all had that day.  My sister and her husband had made a video of Mom's life up to that point, with interviews from family and friends, which Mom just about cried through - and all were extolling Mom's generosity, her caring nature, her compassion, her faithfulness - in other words, everything one would say at a funeral except the honoree was very much alive and getting to hear all the wonderful comments.

I'm glad Neil Armstrong is being hailed as a humble hero, for he truly was.  I just hope he realized how much he meant to this country and to us as individuals before he left us.  I wish that for everyone.  This week, call someone up, write a letter, or go visit the people you care about, the people who have made your life better, the friends, role models or teachers who have influenced you in unforgettable ways, whether famous or not, and let them know how much they mean to you, while they are still around to hear it.

Farewell, Neil Armstrong.  Thanks for making a high schooler's day brighter.

A room of my own

Well I thought I’d come over here and play for a bit because my head’s frazzled with working.  Words words words more words and religion and more words aaaaagh stop. 

So I decided to take a break and show you round my tiny room like I promised.

This is the way in – to the left of the door is a wonderful painting by Hebe – okay you can hardly see it.  I’ll get a better pic to show you.  Here you are:

Inside my room feels big but is really small.  It’s nine feet along its long wall and six feet eight inches along its short wall.  If I stand at the edge squeezing myself into each of the four corners I can show you around.

So if you just come in the doorway, on the opposite wall under the window is my bed.  There are only four pieces of furniture in this room (the bed, the chair, the shelves and a tiny table/stool), and the Badger made two of them and gave me one (the tiny stool) as a gift.  He made the frame for this bed.  

I sleep on it (when he’s away during the week), work on it, sit and read and dream on it.  It goes from wall to wall, so if someone comes in to chat there’s room for a second person to take two of the pillows and sit at the other end.
At the moment the bed is covered with book proofs because that’s what I’m working on.

If you stand at the foot of the bed in the window corner and look back towards the door, this is what you see.  

If you stand at the corner by the head of the bed, this is the view.

The Badger made me this big set of shelves to store all my things.  This is what it looks like without the curtain on the front.

It takes up all the wall with the door in it.  

It has my general life bag hanging to the left of it and my laundry bag hanging to the right.  I also use the laundry bag for my wooding bag sometimes.

There’s a fixed shelf handy for a candle, with a picture our Alice did of a peaceful person thinking.

The Badger took out the electric light for me (though there is still one socket to charge my computer and cellphone).  I put a blessing over the plate where the electric light switch used to be.

Alice did the calligraphy for the blessing.

On the ceiling is just the place where the electric flex was, in case someone needs to put it back some day.

Here’s the Badger who came in for a chat.  

The chair is an old one that gets handed round the family.  Alice had it for a while.  She crocheted the seat cover.  The cushion used to be Hebe’s.  It’s made of patchwork from old saris.

Here's St Francis up on the windowsill.  The window looks out onto our neighbour's cherry tree.

A better view of St F.

The Badger took a photo of me 'cause I took one of him.  This is where I always sit, on my bed by the window.

And you saw the graffiti pic from my wall, that Hebe and I did, before:

 So that's about it, really.  I love my room.  It is a place of happiness and peace, where I can concentrate and feel intact, and get my scattered head back together.  A hermit crab shell.


365 366 Day 238 – Saturday August 25th  

You know I’m not totally sure what these keys were for.  So there was no point in keeping them, was there?