life lately

Happy Heart Day

Heart shaped plate with pink hearts on it filled with chocolate truffles sitting on a lace tablecloth

Happy Valentines Day dear Reader! I’ve come down with a cold, so just a quick post today.

Lately I’ve been…

(Re)reading: Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, which has a lovely chapter about Valentines Day, and turning it into a celebration of family, not just romantic love. I, of course, love that sentiment, as Valentines Day has always been one of my favourite holidays.

two heart garlands, one with red clay and raffia hearts and one made of paper

Loving: I don’t do a lot to celebrate Valentines Day, but each year I send out cards, hang my heart garland and try to make some sort of themed dessert. This year it was raspberry chocolate truffles!

scrapbooking pages and photographs spread out across my desk

Making: My mom and I have been sorting through years worth of family photos, and I’ve started scrapbooking again! I started scrapbooking 20 years ago, but I took a long break from it. I was originally planning to put my photos into regular albums, but then decided to scrapbook them. I won’t necessarily make them as fancy as the pages I used to do, but I like that the 12×12 format will give me a place to put all the documents and keepsakes I’ve gathered over the years alongside the photos.   

Finding: New artists to love on Redbubble. I had a voucher to use, and while browsing came across this lovely Jane Eyre painting by Zuzana Čupová. I love Jane Eyre, and fell in love with this painting the moment I saw it. It fits perfectly into my gallery wall. I also really love the artwork of Oh Jess Marie and purchased some of her adorable tea and book themed greeting cards and stickers. (Ps. the print quality on everything I got from Redbubble was great!)

framed jane eyre watercolour painting artwork hanging in a gallery wall

Thankful for: Videos to watch and podcasts to listen to while I am sick and don’t feel up to reading. A few of my favourites lately are Aly Art, Relatable by Allie Beth Stuckey and Farmhouse on Boone.

And, finally, on this day of love, I will leave you with this verse about the best love!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8

Social Saturday | January 27

a stack of books to read sitting in front of a wall with a floral picture hanging on it

Hello and happy Saturday Dear Reader! What are your plans for this weekend? Mine are to write this post, do some crafting, tidying and reading and I’m not sure what else.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…

Reading: All of the books in the stack above. Well, not all at the same time. I’ve finished The Life Giving Home, A Proper Pursuit, and Digital Madness and am now halfway through The Pastor’s Wife. After I finished The Lifegiving Home I was inspired to pull out one of my favourite books, Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions again. So many good books, so little time…

cornflower botanical painting by Jenni Haikonen

Loving: This beautiful cornflower botanical watercolour by one of my favourite artists, Jenni Haikonen. I received it for Christmas from my parents.

Making: So many projects on the go, all the time, but my current sewing project is a wool skirt out of piece of wool that was originally a pleated skirt. I liked the colourway of the plaid so decided to pick it out and make a new skirt that was more my style. I got the idea of unpicking wool skirts from American Duchess years ago. There was just enough fabric I could squeeze a 4 panel 1/2 circle skirt, while still managing to avoid a few stains as well as match the plaid across the seams!

embroidery and crochet crafts and a length of plaid with a skirt pattern on it

Thankful For: Art and Craft night with friends. Yesterday I hosted a creative get together with 9 other ladies. We each brought our current craft project, like a guild or sewing circle, and worked on it in the company of others. We had a wide variety of talent including crochet animals and dishcloths, a knitted doll, sketching, acrylic painting, embroidery, scrapbooking and fabric and bead ornaments. It was fun seeing what everyone was working on, but most of all we enjoyed the company and conversation.

Listening To: Anúna. I don’t know why I didn’t know about this group until now, because I love Riverdance, Celtic Woman and other choral music. I discovered them in December while listening to Christmas music on Youtube (their Christmas playlist is gorgeous) and now I am hooked. I particularly love this one, “Sleepsong“.

Vintage Vogue magazine from 1892 framed in a black and brass frame

In other news, I framed this Vogue cover from 1892 (no, it’s not original! It’s just a copy I cut off of a dust jacket) to add to my gallery wall.

And some of the other crafts I’ve been making are more of these photo cards. I’ve been using photos I had printed and then stamp them and glue them to a card. I made some kraft envelopes for them too, and decided to list them in my shop. I’ve also listed some more baby/girl’s headbands as well.

cards and headbands for sale in my shop

Well, that’s all for now. I’d better finish this post up and get busy with my other projects before the day runs away from me! I hope you have a lovely Saturday, whatever you are up to.

❤︎ Nicole

Social Saturday | September 9

bowl of tomatoes from the garden

Happy Saturday everyone! It’s been a while since I posted, except for the duckling photos last week, so here’s some of the things I have been up to this summer…

photo art cards and baby felt mary jane shoes

  • Years ago I printed a bunch of my flowers and scenery photos, but didn’t really want to have an album full of them. So, I stamped and punched and stitched them, turning them into cards and postcards. It was the perfect way to use them!
  • I also made yet another pair of baby shoes, for another newborn in our church. Baby shoes are so hard to make because they are so tiny, but so easy to make because they don’t take very long from start to finish!

new and old water bottles and harvest apples

  • After about 12 years of using my old water bottle, it was finally time to get a new one. It looked like it had gone through a war, and the paint was flaking off around the top, which didn’t seem particularly healthy, so I got a new one with a stainless steel top edge. It’s also insulated, and has been so nice for keeping my water cool during the hot months! Anyways, I just wanted to share because I thought that my old one was a good example of “Use it up… Wear it out… Make it do… Or do without!” #zerowaste
  • I’m not sure what variety of apples these are, but we picked quite a few and froze them to use for baking this winter.

bible covered in black and pink floral and tan gingham fabric with a yellow ribbon and patterned endpapers

  • My Bible had seen better days, and the cover was falling off, so I decoupaged it with fabric and put in new endpapers. Not professionally done, by any means, but it was fun to do, and now my Bible is hopefully ready for the next 10 years.

a cream coloured tote bag hanging on a closet doorknob and a green and cream floral quilt on an antique bed with lace pillow shams

  • I sewed a new little tote bag. It’s just a simple bag without any gussets, and is perfect for rolling up to tuck into my purse for a day out shopping.
  • I got a new quilt for my bed. I loved the one that I made out of vintage sheets, but because it wasn’t 100% cotton, I found that I often overheated during the night. I was originally looking for a white quilt, but couldn’t find anything in a soft white. When my mom found this green and cream floral one by Laura Ashley, I knew it was the one!

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to the past few months. I didn’t plan to take a break over the summer; it just kind of happened, but I’m planning to blog more this season. I hope you are all doing well, and have a great weekend!

❤︎ Nicole

A Year of Reading | My Favourite Books of 2022

stack of books that I read in 2022 sitting on top of a wooden table

Here we are already in 2023, which means it’s time for round up of my favourite reads of 2022! I read 46 books this year, and while I did enjoy many of them, there were only a few that I felt excited enough about to share in this list. In no particular order, here are the books I loved this past year.

daughters of fortune book series by judith pella book covers

Daughters of Fortune by Judith Pella

This series is a re-read, (I first read this series when I was 17 or so). I’ve always had an interest in WWII for some reason, so a fictional story that spans the three areas affected by the war: Europe, the Pacific and the American home-front was right up my alley. The story follows three sisters, Cameron, Blaire and Jaqueline as they navigate the war years. I love the storylines of each sister. It’s one of those books that you get immersed in one storyline and then it switches to the next character and you get mad, but then get immersed in their storyline, only to have it switch on you again! The only criticism I have of the series is that by book Four I honestly think she was getting tired of writing, because there is a huge rush at the end, and then a jump to the epilogue and then the story is over. I felt like we needed a few more chapters to wrap things up, but it’s still a good story despite that. My local library doesn’t have this series, so I was happy when I got my own copies last year as a Christmas gift! I bought them from Thrift Books which is always a bit of a gamble as to the quality, (and then the first book got lost in the mail and I had to wait several months for a replacement copy!) but I like having them on my shelf now, so I can read them again in the future.

hitler's cross book cover

Hitler’s Cross by Erwin W. Lutzer

This book has been on my TBR (to be read) list for a year, and it wasn’t one that my library system had. I got this one from Better World Books and I am so happy I did, because this was probably my favourite book of the year. It wasn’t a happy read for sure, talking about how the church in Germany was so weak and became fooled by Hitler, but it was a very prescient book. I see so many similarities between the culture of the German church in the 1930’s and the church in the West today. Which is, of course, why Lutzer wrote it 10 years ago. It is just as relevant today as ever before. It’s one of those books that you are reading along and wanting to underline so many sections (which I never do, but should!) that pretty soon the whole book is underlined. If you’re curious about the culture of the church during WWII this is a great book, and if you’re interested in the culture of the church today, then this is also great book.

ps. I also want to clarify that the anniversary copy I got has a forward by Ravi Zacharias, but the original book does not to my knowledge. That forward, sadly written by a man with a double life, does not change the meat and message of the book. 

bonheoffer book cover

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

After I finished Hitler’s Cross, I was intrigued to read more about Deitrich Bonhoeffer, since he was a key figure during WWII and I wasn’t super familiar with him. I then came across this book at a second hand book shop, which was perfect. It was a slow read and it took me several months to work through. (Although some of that time I was sick and wasn’t reading anything.) It’s a slow read, but that’s because it’s so good. This is also one of those books that would be very underlined with hardly any sections unmarked. I learned so much about the Germany, the War and the Church in this book. It also raised so many good questions about what our response should be when faced with those seemingly “grey areas”, as well as the importance of being faithful to God in the small things, so that we are ready when the big things come. This was my other favourite book of the year. I would also like to get Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, for further reading.

Feels like Home book cover

Feels Like Home by Marion Parsons

Because this list is starting to be all WWII content (Again! Last year was too!), here’s a change of scene (yes pun intended, of course). I read so many decorating books this year, but my favourite was this one by the blogger Miss Mustard Seed. I loved it so much I got it for my birthday! I had actually never read her blog before, but came across the book first and after reading it, I now love to follow her blog. This is one of my favourite decorating books of the year, though, because it’s not just pictures, but also has so many tips and how-to’s included, as well as the story behind her decorating. Many bloggers (myself included I’m sure) tend to ramble, which comes across OK in a blog post, but can get repetitious in a book. I was very happy that her writing in this book is not repetitious or tedious in any way! If you are stuck in any way with decorating, I’m sure that this book will be helpful. She has it broken into chapters featuring each section or room in the house, “living spaces”, “kitchens” etc and goes through so much information about how to curate your own style. I loved this book so much I also gave a copy to a friend.

the tale of beatrix potter vintage book cover

The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Lane

I wrote a post last summer, about the movie Miss Potter, which is one of my favourites, so when I saw this book at our local library I checked it out immediately. Not only is it a beautiful vintage edition, but it’s a lovely read as well! Written fairly soon after Beatrix Potter’s death, and with the help of her surviving husband William Heelis, this book tells the story of Beatrix’s life and art. It’s a beautiful book, with colour illustrations, photographs of her life and even an insert of the Tale of Peter Rabbit story, which was originally written as a letter. I didn’t take a photo of it for some reason, but the reproduction letter was photocopied onto small pages so you could flip through it like it would have been originally when she sent it to her young nephew (who was ill at the time). I really enjoyed this book, and was debating whether to add it to my bookshelf..there are a few vintage editions for sale online, but I haven’t bought one yet.

facepaint book cover

Facepaint by Lisa Eldridge

My sister was the one who introduced me to Lisa Eldridge’s videos and this book. I’m not a huge makeup devotee, but I do enjoy wearing it and especially learning about the history of it! In the first part of the book, she covers the three main colours of makeup: Red, White and Black. I had never thought of that before; even though we have a rainbow of colours in makeup now, for most of history all makeup pretty much narrowed down to these three colours. She covers the history of makeup from the ancient Egyptians (some of the most famous historical makeup!) up to the modern era. In the second part of the book, she covers the trends and styles of each decade of the past century, featuring celebrity makeup icons of each. I learned a lot about makeup, especially how it transitioned from taboo to respectable. I also had no idea that some brands such as Rimmel and Maybelline were so old! The other nice thing about this book was it’s size and glossy pages which made all the images pop. If you like makeup or history or both, then you will definitely enjoy this book. (Also, the makeup featured on the back cover is from her personal vintage make-up collection; so many beautiful and interesting makeup packages!)

welcome home book cover

Welcome Home by Myquillyn Smith

This was the other good decorating book I read this year. It was one of those ones that really feels like a breath of fresh air as you’re reading it. I read it, and then I read a whole bunch of sections to my mom and sister because I liked it so much. Written by another blogger, whose blog I also didn’t know about, the focus of this book is on hospitality and celebrations. She talks about how we can often get so caught up in wanting our homes to be perfect, and our holiday decorations to be festive, that we can unwittingly put so much pressure on ourselves and our imperfect homes that we never even end up celebrating and hosting because things aren’t quite as good as we think they should be. It was a gentle reminder to me of the importance of hospitality, which from a Biblical perspective is nothing like “entertaining”, but is rather focused on serving others and sharing our homes with one another in a spirit of love. The book is divided into four seasons, and each chapter is named after a different hymn that corresponds to the topic of that season- I loved that! She had a lot of great ideas for how to simplify each season to really enjoy each holiday, and ways to share these holidays with others.

in the midst of life book cover

In the Midst of Life by Jennifer Worth

This was one of the first books I read this year, and it got the year off to a good start, even though that seems odd considering that it’s a book about hospice and palliative care. After she was a midwife, Jennifer Worth, the author of the “Call the Midwife” books, left midwifery and went into end-of-life nursing. This is her book about that field of nursing. It was a very thoughtful and thought-provoking examination into how we treat death and dying. She talks about how in times past, people died of “old age” and were left in relative peace to do so, but how in the modern era, everything is treated as an illness that must be cured, despite the fact that sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. She shares stories of some of her patients and their experiences in hospice as the end drew near, and does so with compassion. I also thought her section on assisted death was rather prescient considering the epidemic of medically assisted suicide here in Canada, and the wake of grief many loved ones face when people opt for assisted death. I really wish that I had recorded some of her quotes, because she has a good way of putting things. I might need to get this one out of the library again.

the blue castle book cover

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

The final one on this list, is my favourite book by L.M. Montgomery. And that is saying a lot because I love so many of her stories! However, this one featuring a “spinster” heroine is not just my favourite of hers, but also one of my favourite books of all time. I read it first about four years ago, and have re-read it a couple of times since then. I did this year because I told my mom to read it, and then after she was done I had to refresh my memory so we could talk about it together (and laugh at the funny characters and situations). I read a biography of Montgomery a few years ago and discovered that most of her books were written about real places and based on her own experiences. While the story is not based on her life, the setting of the story, the Muskoka region of Ontario, is based on a trip she took to Bala, Ontario in the summer of 1922. I love this story; it’s one of those that you simultaneously don’t want to end, but also want to find out the ending! I rate it 6 out of 5 stars.

Well, there is my list for this year! I’m already looking forward to next year’s list of books, and planning which ones to order from the library or pull from my shelf. And I’d like to branch out into some other topics, as I seem to have gotten into a rut with WWII! Some that I’ve got on my list for 2023 are David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, (that will be an audiobook), The Seamstress by Allison Pittman, a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas and, as always, a few Agatha Christie murders thrown in for good measure! I really enjoyed this post, about reading a book a week. While I can’t quite do that, since I get a lot of my books from the library and have to wait for them to come in via inter-library-loan, I am still planning a list of books to request, and then will fill in the gaps with ones I already own. While I still did read a lot this year, I also opted to read on the internet a lot more than I read physical books, which is something I’d like to change for the next year.

What books did you enjoy reading this year? Do you have a list of to-be-read books for 2023, or do you just plan to read as you come across something that interests you?

 

 

 

Social Saturday | November 12

several books and a magazine spread out on a vintage quilt

Hello and happy Saturday, Dear Readers. It’s a snowy day today, so it’s the perfect time to settle down with some books or blog posts to read. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed lately.

I recently received my birthday gifts and my Victoria magazine in the mail on the same day. I got these three new books: Nora Murphy’s Country House Style, Feels Like Home by Marion Parsons and How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless. I’ve really been enjoying reading decorating books lately, getting some from the library and now a few for my own shelf.

And, here’s a list of some more books that sound good…a few more to add to my never ending “To Be Read” list!

I liked this article from Verily Magazine about choosing a personal decorating style you love, rather than just following what is popular and trendy.

Also from Verily, I’ve filed away this one to refer to next time I need to stretch new shoes.

This was a fun peek into a vintage magazine from 1908, from Wearing History Blog. I always enjoy seeing the “ideal” fashions from each period portrayed in magazines and catalogues.

I loved this article about Marilyn Monroe’s style! She is one of the most famous fashion icons for a reason.

I have read, and written, a lot about fast fashion (you can read more posts in the “sustainable fashion” category on my sidebar) but every time someone talks about it, I always seem to learn something new. Mostly I learn that the fashion industry is very corrupt and has no incentive to change. I wouldn’t have bought from Shein anyway, but this video by Karolina Zebrowska definitely solidified that decision. Of course we all need to wear clothes, and we can’t always afford to buy ethical brands (I own some fast fashion pieces myself), but the key difference I see is in the attitude we have when we approach our clothing. We might not have the power to revolutionize the fashion industry, but we each do have the ability to revolutionize our own closets by choosing to buy only what we need and then loving and caring for those pieces well, no matter their price tag.

In this video by The Minimal Mom, she asks a great question to help with decluttering!

I came across this quote yesterday and thought it was timely, considering my post on Wednesday.

“Be satisfied with the fact that although your art or talent may never be accepted by the world as anything ‘great’, and may never be your career, it can be used to enrich your day by day life: enrich it for you, and for the people with whom you live….and come to the recognition of the fact that it is important for you to BE creative in this area to the extent of your talent: important for you as a person who IS a creative creature.” – Edith Schaeffer

Also by Edith Schaeffer, I really liked this one too.

“If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation.”

And finally, revisiting one of my favourite posts, “Home”, from one of my favourite bloggers, The Palest Ink. She has a beautiful way of weaving words with Biblical truths.

That’s all for today’s post, and I hope you have a lovely weekend!