Sunday, May 31, 2009

Serendipity Sunday: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.....

Serendipity: Making a delightful or unexpected discovery

"For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see."

~Psalm 36:9~

(photo source)

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, is a Christian hymn composed by the 18th Century Methodist pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson. The hymn is set to an American Folk tune known as Nettleton, by attribution to the evangelist Ashton Nettleton who composed it in the early nineteenth century. Robinson penned the words at age 22 in the year 1757. This song was sung by Clark Davis in the film Love Comes Softly based on the book of the same title by Janette Oke and is a recurring background music to the film.

I was first introduced to this hymn when I heard it sung in the film and its words pierced my heart and clung in my mind. My daughter learned to play it on her flute and once surprised me by playing it for me. When I hear the thrid line of this hymn being sung in church with all the voices of the congergation blending together in praise, it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes, praise to my tongue, and contrition to my heart.

Oh how I desire that my heart be tuned to sing of His grace, to praise Him for His never ceasing streams of mercy. I long to put aside all earthly distractions and be fixed upon Him. One of my prayers is that my wnadering heart will be bound to Him.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,


Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Praying that you will rest in His blessings this week.

Blessings,

Miss Sandy

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Rocky Romance.....

"Years ago I had a house in Sussex, it was like Arcadia, with an old Victorian bridge, a pond and the Downs."
~Nicholas Roeg~

Monday I posted on my guy and it seems I stirred up a little wistfulness for romance. I also hinted that Handy Hubby had another surprise up his sleeve. Well, let me forewarn you that this tale puts romance on the rocks.

I tried to imagine what he could possibly have in store, after all, he had given me a flower, pressure washed our initials on a tree, and taken me on a picnic to the spot where we shared our first kiss. I just knew it had to top all that, after all my guy was on a roll. I very much anticipated the big reveal.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and early as we sat shoulder to shoulder on the front steps watching the world wake up. He told me to get ready we were going into town to do some shopping. This pushed me over the edge, who was this man and what happened to my real guy? My guy DOES. NOT. DO. SHOPPING. PERIOD! OK, let me clarify that, if there is a Bass Pro Shop or Tractor Supply or some boat or motorcycle place he will shop for eveah! We drove over to the west side of town where there is a huge garden outlet. My surprise was that we were going to finish a project he started almost fifteen years ago! THAT really did surprise me.

One day almost fifteen years ago I came home to find my guy standing knee deep in a huge hole he had dug next to a protruding boulder in our side yard. "What are you doing?" "I am going to make you a garden pond with fish and everything." "Do you know how to build a garden pond?" "No, I'll figure it out as I go along." "OK." Some kind of wired mesh stuff and bent rebar stuff and Redimix later we had ourselves a real honest to goodness cement pond! A pond that I might add seeped water. A coating of sealant gunk later and we had ourselves an honest to goodness cement pond that still seeped water.

The poor decrepit pond sat for years, a big hole in the ground filled up with leaves, a trip hazard for anyone who might happen upon it. One day the pond was scooped out and a new rubber liner was added along with a special sealant used around the edges and then we had ourselves an honest to goodness rubber lined cement pond that held water! Rocks were hauled from my grandmothers creek bed to use as stepping stones around the pond as well as to finish off the pond edges. They were stacked nearby ready for use. Pumps and a fountain were installed and gold fish came to live in the unfinished pond.
The poor pond sat in its unfinished state for a very long time. I gave up hope that it would ever be anything more than an eyesore until Tuesday. We purchased a pump, filter, concrete, and some nasty black stuff in a spray can that makes rocks stick together to make the water feature I had always dreamed of having. I was feeling thoroughly romanced at that moment. My guy was going to give the time and attention needed to complete a project that I gave up on because he knew it was something that would make me happy. There was a compromise involved, I had to agree to a fire pit in the middle of my seating area.
Euphoric, we floated home on dreams of grandeur of working side by side creating a tranquil oasis to retreat to as we relaxed beside the trickling water of our new totally finished water feature. What happened next was anything but tranquil and romance hit the rocks!
The first part of the project went pretty smooth as the first three stones were sealed in place on the top and face of the boulder. We played with the arrangement of the stones around the ponds edge in preparation for cementing them down and laid out the stepping stones. I am not sure they will stay as they are. We may have to get larger stones to extend over the pond edge more. These will extend some when moved forward and sealed in place but don't cover as much of the liner edge as I'd like them to.

We needed to build up a cap of stones on top of the boulder so we gathered several rocks from around the ridge. I would stand in front of the pond and direct the placement of the rocks. At one point frustration set in on both our parts when he accused me of giving bad directions for fitting the rocks in place and I retorted that his dumping method was not aesthetically pleasing!

(small arched foot bridge will go in this bare spot)

I wanted to use a particular rock and we just could not make it fit. Handy Hubby was standing up on the back side of the boulder and lifted the offending rock over his head to give it a toss. I saw where it was going to land and tried to warn him but he shushed me and said we were not using that stupid rock. He looked a little like King Kong about hurl something off the empire state building as he hoisted the rock over his head and released it. It slammed to the ground and we had ourselves and honest to goodness secondary water feature right next to our rubber lined cement pond.
He hit the water line running from our old well that feeds over to the pond area. Stunned we both stood there for a minute getting soaking wet when he flew into action running over to the well and turning off the water. Tension was eased as we collapsed in fits of laughter. I finished arranging the rocks on top and he sealed them. Soaking wet with black rock sticking gunk stuck all over us we called it quits on the project for the day.The water feature works beautifully, is aesthetically pleasing to my artist eye, and exactly as I hoped it would be. It looks like a fresh water spring trickling down the boulder. The edge rocks are still not cemented in place and the gravel is not spread between the stepping stones. Yesterday I hauled and arranged rocks for two planting areas.

(front row of rock I hauled to make a planting area)

Plants of the aquatic and land nature still need to be purchased and installed. The little foot bridge still needs to be built. Large potted ferns need to be placed to hide the mechanics. A fire pit still needs to be built. And the project remains largely unfinished. At the end of the day it is all OK.

My guy sheepishly came in later that evening after repairing the water line and handed me a rather large four leafed clover. With that little boy grin of his, he said, "I picked this for you. Here, put it in water. It means I am lucky to have you." It is still floating in an old jar on the kitchen window sill where it reminds me that I am the one who is lucky to have him, rocky romance and all.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Sweet Tweet Give Away Sneak Peek.....

"Those nimble little musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art."
~Izaak Walton~

I recently mentioned that I had reached my 300th post and would soon be hosting a give away. I am working on three art projects to give away and thought I would give you a sneak peek of the first project that is almost complete. This project was inspired by artist Vanessa Spencer while browsing the video library of Stampington & Co.; who publishes all my favorite art publications. You can also view other great Stampington & Co. videos here on StampingtonCo's Channel on YouTube.

(journal cover)
I fell in love with Vanessa's Bird Journal and decided to give it a try. Her written instructions with supply list and product brands, as well as her video showing how to make the project made assembly quick and easy. This large board book journal measures 12"x5" and contains 14 journaling blocks.

(journal back)
I still have to bind the book and add the final embellishments. I will give you a peek at the other projects as soon as I get them started. I confess one page did not make it into the book, I have plans for that sweet tweet. I will be hosting the give away next week so check back then for sign up as well as project details. I also have some great tips and fun tricks to share with you.

(journal pages)
I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Guy.....

"You don't fall in love with someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear."
~Unknown~

Every once in a while Handy Hubby throws me off balance with an unexpected surprise of the sentimental or romantic nature. Why does this surprise me? Because my guy is not the hearts and flowers kind of guy. It is not that he is not loving, he is just not given to sentimental gestures. Something seems to be shifting in this area because he kept me off balance all last week and I am lovin' it!

First there was the buttercup incident. We were standing out in the field with Darling Daughter practicing archery when he suddenly stooped over and picked a buttercup. With his little boy grin that melts my heart he romantically said, "Wanna flower?" :c)
The camera of my minds eye focused its lens on the tips of his thumb and finger between which rested a single buttercup. With a blink the shutter clicked and forever engraved an image not of the flower being given but of the hand that was extending it to me. A rough work worn hand that so often is resting on my cheek when I wake up in the morning. A hand that is always gentle and helpful. A hand that is quick to comfort. Who needs romantic gestures when you have a man with those hands? He tucked the buttercup behind my left ear and ruffled the back of my new short hair cut saying, "In case I didn't tell you, I really like your hair like this."

Next there was the tree carving incident. It was Tuesday night while cooking supper before I noticed it. As I cook, my family likes to gather around the kitchen or dining nook to hang out, talk, and lend a helping hand. Darling Daughter was perched on the table and Handy Hubby was sitting beside her in a chair as I was whisking between stove, sink, pantry, and refrigerator. I have a habit of glancing out the window as I work. I was arrested by what I saw. I literally stalled mid sentence and dropped a spoon in the sink with a noisy clatter as I tiptoed to get a better look at the tree trunk in my line of vision. "What in the world?" slipped from my lips as I yanked open the back door zipping across the deck to trace my finger across a symbol I had not seen since high school.

I turned to see my guy leaning on one shoulder in the doorway, hands in the pockets of his jeans, grinning like a Cheshire cat, "You didn't notice it? I did it over the weekend." "I think I would have noticed you out here carving on the tree." "No you wouldn't. I did it with the pressure washer." :c) I burst out laughing, now how many guys out pressure washing the deck would think to use it to carve a plus sign and initials in a tree right off the deck rail for all to see his declaration of love?Then Thursday night he calls on his way home and says he wants to take me on a date. The following conversation ensues, "Where are we going?" "You'll see." "What do I wear?" "Whatever." "Casual or dressy?" "Whatever. Just be ready in a few minutes, I'm at the end of the driveway." "OK." He had planned a picnic by the lake, at the very place where we sat on the tailgate of his old green pickup truck some thirty odd years ago and shared our first kiss.

After eating and strolling down memory lane we drove up "snake hill" to The Old Mill to enjoy the garden. Nearly every high school senior has had their senior photo taken there. Because of its romantic beauty, it is the site for about 200 weddings per year. A bit of trivia of the mill is that it was filmed in the opening scenes of the famous award~winning movie,
Gone With The Wind, which was released in 1939. It is believed to be the only remaining structure from the movie.
When you step through the iron gates you are transported back in time. While a road runs up above and beside the mill, you feel sequestered in the stillness and beauty of the surroundings. The mill was never actually a working mill. It is a memorial replica of the type of old mills once found in our region. It was contracted to be built in 1931 and christened in 1933. It is named Pugh's Mill, in honor of Mr. T. R. Pugh a friend of the mills developer, Justin Matthews.The mill was intended to appear abandoned~absent of doors and windows due to time and decay~just as old mills that were in service in the early 1800's had become by the 1930's. The image is that the old grist mill and driving equipment have been disconnected from the water wheel; and the water gate on the flume above, although closed, is leaking enough water to turn the old wheel, which is idling away though the years.Once the mill was complete with native stone, artist, Senor Dionicio Rodriguea, was commissioned to create the fantastic bridges, archways, benches, and mill interior structure. He was a descendant of the artistic Aztec race. He was born in 1891 in Toluca, Mexico. At the age of 16 he had his first experience with what was to come his life's work while employed by an Italian artist, Robles Hill, who specialized in creating imitation rocks, caverns, ruins, and ancient buildings. Rodriques called his style "rustico", but it is better known today as faux bois ("fake wood" in French).He was extremely secretive about the process by which he produced his work. He refused to work from written plans, so none exist. He would mix coloring, bonding agents, and other products in the trunk of his car (slamming it shut if anyone approached) or break the jars and peel off the labels so no one could copy his work. His secret techniques, applied using ordinary kitchen implements, are so detailed and exacting that you can identify the species of trees in most of his work.

We closed out the day by sitting on one of the curved benches high above the mill pond watching families with young children laughing and playing on the enchanted structures and young lovers stroll hand in hand. One young couple showed up just before dusk laying a bright blue print blanket on the ground and producing a picnic for two. She grinned at him as she unwrapped a guitar from another blanket and began to tune it. Music filled the evening air as she strummed and hummed.

Twinkle lights blinked on at a nearby private dock as a family prepared to dine lakeside. Families whisked children away for baths and bedtime and still we sat. The peepers began their nightly serenade as soft yellow flickers of lightening bugs reflected on the ponds surface. Sighing, we drove home the long way down back roads in the inky night, top down, heater on to ward of the chill.

Handy Hubby has taken the day off of work today and has yet another surprise in store for me. A girl could really get used to this. I told him he was setting the bar pretty high and that I was going to expect this more often. He grinned and said, "Expect it when you least expect it."

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Rememberance.....

"For love of country they accepted death."
~James A. Garfield~"I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did."
~Benjamin Harrison~

Thank you to all those who have served and are serving our country.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Serendipity Sunday: Rejoice.....

Serendipity: Making a delightful or unexpected discovery

"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

~Psalm 118:24~

I snapped the above photo as we were whizzing down a twisted highway; by passing some beautiful farm land. Sometimes life is like the highway we took, full of twists and turns and it gets a bit difficult to really rejoice. No matter the situation or circumstance each day we are given is a gift to rejoice in. We can express great joy by simply counting our blessings. This simple act will gladden the heart.

Praying your hearts will be storehouses of joy as you rejoice in counting your blessings.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From The Writing Cottage: The Diary.....

"Nulla dies sine linea"
~No Day Without A Line~
In a recent post I shared with you what was on my worktable and today I though I would share with you my latest writing project from the writing cottage. The account you read below is true and tells how I came upon The Diary...In a dimly lit corner of an antiques store stood a rustic wooden table filled with items once useful in days gone by. Underneath sat an old battered pasteboard box filled with outdated maps and musty smelling books. I'd never have known it was there had my toe not tapped it as I scooted closer to the table to reach for an item displayed on a shelf above. The contents looked intriguing enough to investigate. This is where I found the diary.

As I shifted aside road maps of Route 66 as well as those of countries I've only dreamed about visiting, my eyes brushed across a small book. My heart skipped a beat of anticipation as I reached for the small red cloth bound volume. Gently blowing away a fine layer of dust from the surface of the well preserved book, bright gold embossed lettering and scroll work blinked at me from the crimson surface. The lettering read, A Line A Day.
Turning the book over in my hands, examining the binding, spine, and page edging I discovered near perfect condition. My heart tripped with even greater delight when I opened the cover, flipped through the pages, and noted the copyright date of 1892 by the Samuel Ward Company, 49 Franklin Street, Boston, Mass.

Inscribed inside the front cover in an old fashioned script were a name, date, and address. The diarist name was Katherine. Hastily scribbled inside the front cover is the following quote:

"The price of wrath is to serve
The price of happiness is to give
The secret of peace is faith
The pathway to health is lovers love"
~Attkinson~

As I stood in the dim lighting, diary cradled in one hand while fingers of the other caressed the yellowed pages, I felt weight of history in the palm of my hand. The first entry was written on October 27, 1903, I held over one hundred years of living history.
As my eyes drank in the entries with the thirst of a desert terrain I well imagined that I could hear the scratch of the pen nib across the surface of each page. I could hear the ink blotter wick up the excess ink residue. I could imagine Katherine in the period costume of her era sitting at a small writing desk by a window in her room, head bent over the quick movements of her hand from ink well to page as she made her daily entry, fulfilling the inscription, "Nulla dies sine linea." (No day without a line) Perhaps without knowing it, Katherine became a writer and historian on the day of that first entry, her twentieth birthday.

Carefully carrying my treasure to the store front I made my purchase and returned to my aunt's home, where I was visiting. My family and I were gathered in her living room as I sat and read aloud each entry, at least as much as I was able to decipher as penmanship was not Katherine's strong point, to their eager and listening ears. We laughed and marveled and wondered as the pages of history unfolded in this first hand account of life in the early 1900's through the eyes and words of an extraordinary young woman.
I have had the diary in my possession for some time now and recently decided to translate it as I noticed that some of the ink is beginning to bleed and blur the words. I don't want Katherine's story to be lost. I feel I have been given the noble task of preserving her memory as well as sharing her faith.

I am getting more excited about this writing project as I have been able to trace Katherine and her family through census records. I am learning about the era and area she lived in. I would dearly love to find a photo of her. Although that hope is dim, it is still hope, after all, her diary made its way into my hands and perhaps her image will too.
My hopes are that I can trace her family forward and find a present day relative and make contact with them if there are any.

I am not exactly certain what I will do with Katherine's story once all the transcription and research are done. Any suggestions?

Blessings,
Miss Sandy


Photos are of the writing cottage, Quill Cottage, where I write to you from.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Serendipity Sunday: Routine Days.....

Serendipity: Making a delightful or unexpected discovery

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."
~Psalm 105:4 (NIV)~

This has been a quite week here at the Quill with a rhythm of routine days and tasks. Most of the time I like a regular routine, however, sometimes I chafe under it and wish for a break in the boredom. Nothing seemed to be happening and the same old same old was growing tiresome. To compound matters I have been cooped up for weeks now due to all the rain in our region. My delightful discovery of the week came to me on a quite day when I was in need of a reminder to be thankful for routine days.

This is what I read:
"When I give you no special guidance, stay where you are. Concentrate on doing your everyday tasks in awareness of My Presence with you. The Joy of My Presence will shine on you, as you do everything for Me. Thus you invite Me into every aspect of your life. Through collaborating with Me in all things, you allow My life to merge with yours. This is the secret not only of joyful living but also of victorious living. I designed you to depend on Me moment by moment, recognizing that apart from Me you can do nothing.

Be thankful for quite days, when nothing special seems to be happening. Instead of being bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek my face. Although this is an invisible transaction, it speaks volumes in spiritual realms. Moreover, you are richly blessed when you walk trustingly with Me through the routines of your day."

Colossians 3:23; John 15:5; Psalm 105:4

~Jesus Calling by Sarah Young~

Praying your days this week are anything but routine as He fills you with the joy of His presence.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Wedding Scrapbook Album.....

"Love put the fun in together, the sad in apart, and joy in a heart."

~Unknown~
My creative cram session is paying off, yesterday I finished up the wedding gift, a memory album, just in the nick of time to wrap it and send it off to the shower. I hope the soon to be bride and groom will enjoy it for many years to come.I copied the first three layouts from an album I had previously done for a newly blended family but changed the rest of the book up to fit a new bride and groom. For this project I used a beautiful line of papers, the Formal Affairs Paper Collection by Scrapworks, and plain black card stock, Hobby Lobby brand, both purchased at 1/2 price at Hobby Lobby.

I was thrilled to find a quality album in an ivory fabric that coordinated with the papers. (Simply Fab Fabulous Fabric Wedding Scrapbook, by Marcella a division of K&Company) This beautiful 12x12 album was purchased at Big Lots for $4.99! It had heavy cream linen pages with vellum page protectors between each page and was a dream to work with.

I apologize in advance for the quality of some of the photos, a few of the pages did not photograph well, although most are crisp and clear. The front and back inside covers were quite plain so I covered them with a couple of papers, hiding the seam with black satin self~adhesive ribbon.
I used various rubber stamps and black ink throughout the book, like the side border on the page below. For ease and convenience of attaching photos I chose to use gold foil corners, placing them according to the photo size. I also labeled each layout for photo size. I had a few layouts that were odd sized so I provided the couple with a clear cutting template that they can use to trim photos down to size. While I wanted the photos to be a prominent feature of the album, I also wanted to provide a space for written memories. Scattered throughout the album are hand stamped journaling blocks. I used a basic block lined stamp and then over stamped it with a decorative corner design. To make simple sticker or rub~on lettering look more grand I matted them three to four times using card stock and light and dark paper scraps. This is a great way to use up small paper scraps! I kept these two portrait pages fairly simple with just a touch of ribbon and triple matted wording. The rub~on lettering is from the Marcella by K line. (K&Company) It and the gold lettering you see throughout the album were purchased from Big Lots at $1.00 per package. I used a few embellishments to enhance the page designs such as, pearl and silver brads, 3~D weddings embellishments (both from K&Company), self-adhesive ribbon (FABRICRAFT Peel 'n' Stick Fabric by Delta), and champagne jewels. I found all these elements deeply discounted at Big Lots also, just $1.00 per package. I do love a good bargain! To make the album cohesive, I used black card stock for matting on all pages. I used the layered matting technique behind all the 3~D and stamped embellishments also. For the friends and guests pages I stuck to a standard 4x6 photo and a more simple page design allowing for more photos per page and plenty of journaling blocks for recording memories or guests names.For the final page I featured their new married name. Supplies for this album came to about $22.00, this price is minus the adhesives, rubber stamps, and ink, which I already had on hand. A great bargain for a lifetime of memories! I am off to clean up the huge mess I made and begin again making another one. I hope you all have a wonderfully creative weekend.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy
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