Friday, August 28, 2015

Tie Dye Radiance

For our first day of the home school year, my youngest daughter and I decided to make tie dye t-shirts for her. We bought the materials at Walmart.

She's mixing up
the soda ash to soak
the white t-shirts.
It is supposed to make
the cloth more color fast.

Traditional sunburst method

Another sunburst shirt


This one will be more striped

A few days later 
we made a t-shirt
for her dad's birthday

One for me

Two t-shirts for
my grandson's
first birthday.
Lots of fun! I think I've found a hobby to continue!

Right now on my desk I have one more tie dye project tightly wrapped in a plastic bag. I just made it this evening, so it needs to sit for several hours before I rinse. I didn't use soda ash this time, so I'm curious to see how it will turn out. It's a turquoise (mixed aqua and green) sunburst wall hanging for my bedroom, but I'll show you the finished product in another post!

If you'd like to read about the start of our school year, click here: First Two Weeks of Fourth Grade Home School.

Grace and peace, 
Virginia Knowles

Sunday, August 23, 2015

And Now I See (A Poem)

"And Now I See"
by Virginia Knowles
August 2015

I reach for them the moment I awake
Lift them to my eyes so I can see my world.
I need this vision, these lenses
Without which I live in mist.

Yet an inner clarity I desire far more
A wisdom which grows within
And wakes my very soul
With a long and lovely light.

Each moment of courage and compassion
Each joy, sorrow, solitude brings
More and more focus each day
I open my soul, and now I see.


I originally thought of writing this poem while in the process of shopping for new and stronger eyeglasses. I am so thankful that someone once invented the optical lens! I would be so lost, and could not read without them!

But as I type the poem now from last week's longhand version, I think of my daughter Jo who starts grad school tomorrow for her master's degree in counseling. I smile every time I see "Courage, dear heart" - a phrase from C.S. Lewis - tattooed on her collar bone. She has been an avid reader since she was four, and I just got back from delivering a book case to her new apartment. She is also quite a world traveler. In the past several years she's been to 10 foreign countries: the Dominican Republic, Italy (for a few months), France, Monaco, the Vatican City, Australia (for a semester), New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iceland - all without me, but several with one of her older sisters. I confess I am simply jealous for her cultural and educational experiences. She opens her eyes and her soul, and I love to hear her perspective. So I think I'll just dedicate this little poem to her, 'K?

All the best to you, Jo! You'll rock grad school!

All the best to all the rest of you, too!

Let's see...

Grace and peace,

Virginia Knowles

P.S. Other poems of mine that you might like:

Linking up at... Mom's Morning Coffee blog party!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

North Carolina: Mountain Shops

We've been home from North Carolina for over a month, but I realized I hadn't posted pictures from our last two days there! What reminded me is that I created and ordered six 11"x14" poster collages on the Walmart photo web site. I haven't hung them up yet, but they look great! Many of these pictures made it onto the final one.

Ten of us went to the village of Blowing Rock on a Wednesday. I love that place! So quaint and picturesque!

My grandson enjoyed the playground when we stopped for a picnic lunch. What a cutie!

We visited several shops. I am always drawn to words, so I love inspirational signs.

I was supposed to meet my family at the ice cream store, but they weren't there when I arrived, so I popped into another store two doors down. Cross Trade reminds me of Trades of Hope. They import lovely craft work from Brazil to support artisans with a fair living wage. What a surprise to see that the cashier is my friend Anne, who is also the mother of my brother-in-law. What a sweet lady! We had a nice chat. I hadn't seen her in years and didn't realize she lived in the area.

We all enjoyed our waffle cones at Kilwin's ice cream store.

Heading back to the van, I saw the Dulcimer Shop. I love dulcimers! I've owned one since I was in 8th grade, but haven't played it in years. I bought new strings and a music book, and enjoyed hearing the owner play one of the dulcimers for us. 

Take a quick listen to the sweet music that the owner Bill Magee played for us on request!

I'm getting my dulcimer restrung at Lyrical Lumber here in Maitland, Florida very soon. Two of my daughters want to learn to play it, and fortunately it is super easy. There are even instructional videos on YouTube.

On Thursday, one of my adult daughters bravely took five of her younger siblings to Grandfather Mountain, while the other three of us adults stayed at the cabin to do a final cleaning before leaving the next morning. I'll put those photos in a separate post.

That afternoon, we all visited Mast General Store, a beloved local vintage landmark.

Besides being a general store, it is still a working post office!

Of course, the kids bought both Nehi and Cheerwine sodas!

One son arranged his Mast treasures on the table back at the cabin.


It was my second son's 16th birthday, so I got him a Grandfather Mountain t-shirt to remember the day.

Such a lovely trip to North Carolina! Here are the links to the other photo posts so far.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Off to College She Goes!

My fifth daughter, Lydia, left for college yesterday. She'll be a junior at the University of Florida, majoring in ceramics. With the exception of the semester that her next older sister spent in Australia as an exchange student, this is the first time any of ours has moved away from home to go away to college.

Another older sister suggested that we put together a surprise gift basket in UF colors, orange and blue. I found a tall orange rubber laundry basket and a matching smaller one at Old Time Pottery. I filled the smaller basket with a blue towel and hand towel, blue desk lamp with a box of bulbs, blue water bottle, blue and orange bath puff, and Florida Gator magnetic clips. Oh, and some dark chocolate and a package of highlighters. Her four older sisters gave her a bunch of other great stuff like first aid supplies, toiletries, hangers, gift card, snacks, and other goodies, so we easily filled up the hamper with all of our stuff.

We also decided to have a quick going away dinner as a family, though not everyone was there at the same time during the evening. I found the funky cake on sale at Walmart. Lydia doesn't drive a VW bug, but she does have an awesome motorcycle!

I lost track of how many hours we spent packing up her bedroom in the week before she left. She's a prolific artist, so there were all her supplies, as well as clay sculptures, wire sculptures, oil paintings, ink drawings, bas relief panels, and two large and heavy frescoes. I wondered if she'd be able to fit it all in her bedroom. She did, with the exception of one that came home and a few that we forgot to put in the U-Haul truck.

Yes, they even got the motorcycle strapped in! 

Then off we went!

She is very fortunate to be renting a room from a sweet Christian family that her sister has known for years. It is only five or ten minutes from campus and from the restaurant where she starts work tomorrow.

My two main jobs after we got the truck unloaded were to hang up all of her clothes and to arrange her books, videos, file box, pictures, and art (hers and others) on the book case. She told me to put them in categories: classics, modern fiction, Christian, French, cooking, art history... I donated the book case to the cause and now I have two big bins of books sitting in my living room that I took out of it. Guess I'm going to have to shuffle my own book collection around!

In the process I found some old photos of my girl. She looks so much like I did at those ages!

Time to say goodbye. I didn't cry. She's just away for the weekend, isn't she? 

Isn't she? Never mind that her teenage sister had already moved a bunch of her own stuff into the empty bedroom by the time we got home...

Still in denial,


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Melody!

My 10th (and last) child turned 10 today! That's a milestone!

Melody had a birthday party with her friends on Friday and one with our family today. She chose a Hawaiian theme. 

Chalk boards are so versatile for making impromptu colorful signs! My 14 year old daughter Naomi drew the chalkboard designs and the birthday banner.


We bought the other decorations at the dollar store.

We borrowed a slip-and-slide from a friend. I'm glad that after a while we thought to pair it with a Little Tikes slide that was on our porch. It's so much more fun to swoosh down on your bottom from the slide than take a belly dive onto the ground.

To go along with the water theme, we also had water balloons and squirt tubes. The balloons were sort of a waste of time, but the squirt tubes from the dollar store were in high demand! You fill them like a huge syringe from a bucket, and then they shoot out a stream of water. I'll remember that next time!

Meanwhile, three of her older siblings were having fun jamming straws together to make a super long one. Yes, he actually drank from it!

I made pineapple chicken, chicken nuggets, and a fruit platter. We also had macaroni salad, potato salad, and bags and bags of chips and Chex mix.

Today we had her family party - which for us means about 17 people in three generations.

The lunch menu was BBQ chicken, leftover pineapple chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, tater tots, biscuits, fresh sauteed green beans, and two cakes.

Melody wanted a strawberry icebox cake, which her sister Julia has made twice for us. It's a really simple cake - with layers of whipped topping, graham crackers, and strawberries - but a bit time consuming hulling and slicing! Anyway, I didn't quite make it to church this morning what with all of the food prep and last minute tidying.

Yes, I carved this strawberry into the heart shape...

The second cake was a last minute inspiration. I had bought some cinnamon streusel snack cakes to give Melody a quick treat at breakfast before she went to church. I took the five cakes that were left over, sliced the top layers off, put the bottom layers in a glass pie plate, diced up fresh peaches, spooned on some whipped topping, and sprinkled the streusel layer on top. Yum!

Melody got some great presents at her parties! Her oldest sister Mary gave her two cute dresses.

Mary and Julia are both pregnant together again! Mary is expecting her fourth baby in February, and Julia is having her second next month! So far it's four adorable little grandsons for me, but the next up is a girl, and our sixth grand baby's gender hasn't been discovered yet.

Two of the sisters who couldn't come today posted their greetings on Facebook.

Joanna wrote: "Happy 10th birthday to this huge-hearted girl, my littlest sister whose personality precedes her presence, who asks a lot of questions, but always the right ones... Like "When are we going to Disney?" She won me over the day she was born, and still has me wrapped around her finger. Mel, you are always enough, and always loved. Have a blast in your first year of double-digits, and tell your stories like only you can. Xoxoxoxo"

Rachel wrote: "Happy double digits to the most energetic, adventurous, and brave young lady I know - Melody Lynn! You're one in 7 billion!"

That's all for now on the birthday parties! I'm writing a separate post that's more about Melody on one of my other blogs, This Mom Grows Up. You can find it here: Mothering My Melody.

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