Monday, August 29, 2016

Ideas for Bridging Generational Gaps

About once a month, a local assisted living facility asks for community members to come sing and play music for the residents. Our homeschool group participated last year and my teens loved bringing their guitars or piano music and playing songs the residents recognized and could sing along with.

It's important to me to teach our kids that they can have a big impact on their communities right where they are and in every stage of life. I want them to have the opportunity to learn from and be influenced by people of all generations. We live in a community that, until recently, served as mainly a retirement community for many years. There are a lot of opportunities here for the youngers and olders to mingle. Ministering at an assisted living center or to other people in our community is just as edifying for my children as it is for the residents.  As they see the joy they can bring to people, it gives them the chance to build relationships with them.

There are lots of ways to bridge generational gaps between the young and the aged. The main thing is to get over any preconceived ideas about one another's interests and, instead, open up dialogue. The older generations love to talk one on one so the best way to find out what they're in to is just ask!

Here are some more ideas to help younger people enjoy the wisdom and influence of the older generations:

  • Take a nature walk together and collect items for a fairy pot. If the older person has difficulty outside, the younger person could bring all of the supplies to their room, open up a sunny window, and work on the project with them there.
  • Cards, board games, and puzzles are always fun and challenging. Pick games that aren't super complicated but will require all players to strategize. These sort of mind builders are beneficial to every age level.
  • Prepare a picnic to enjoy together in or out of doors. 
  • Bake cookies or make and decorate a cake together. One of my favorite early memories was when our neighbor, Alice, invited me over to make oatmeal cookies. I was only about six years old and I remember she's the one who taught me to sift flour!
  • Spend time looking at cloud or rock formations and use your imaginations to decide what they look like.
  • Do a simple sport like badminton, ping pong, or bounce a ball back and forth while visiting.
  • Visit a lake or river to go fishing or skip rocks in the water.
  • Work on a project like repairing a small engine or building a birdhouse. 
  • Have a conversation about something special like their father's tackle box or their mother's sewing box. 
  • Look through photographs together.
  • Do a service project together like preparing gifts or writing cards or making hats and blankets.
  • Find some old newspapers or magazines and have the older person talk about events or ads from their point of view.
  • Play with Legos or make a model car.
  • Cut paper dolls from magazines or make scrapbooks from pretty pictures. My great-grandma loved to do this with me when I was little and I have several of our scrapbooks made from seed catalogs.
No matter the activity, the important thing for all generations is to know that we have true friends and are being loved and respected for the valuable people we are. Spending time in real relationships is important for all ages.

I'd love to hear your ideas for bridging generational gaps. Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Second Regency Dress is Finished!

Sewing is coming along nicely for my Regency "trousseau". Ha! Yesterday I finished my second dress and now I can't decide if I want to wear this one in the promenade or the red one I showed you last week. 

I went with a higher neckline and long sleeves with this one---a morning dress look. I love the option this pattern has for adding a waistband. Even though I don't have a tie running through, it just looks so nice and much less "nightgownish" than some of my previous dresses.

I also chose to do a tie back. Several references say this was the most common way to close up the dress in Jane's day.

I've done so many hand-stitched eyelets lately that they're really growing on me. Only 15 more days until I leave! I'm super excited! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

DIY Vintage Heirloom Stool Makeover

I'd like to introduce you to a dear family heirloom: 
This is The Stool. 
In the early 1950s, in Burns, Oregon, my grandpa George Bradley made this stool for his new bride, Betty Kiggins Bradley. The top was plain wood colored and the legs were painted bright red and later, a rusty red color. When my mom left home (Gresham, Oregon---I think) in the early 1970s, Grandma Betty gave her this stool, as she had no furniture! 

Mom kept this with her when she married my dad. She painted it chocolate brown and did a little repair work: 

It has served all kinds of purposes since! I remember it as a plant stand in the living room and a night table in pretty much every family member's bedroom! When my husband and I were married in Baker City, Oregon in 1998, guess what I inherited?

The stool! This really is one of the most special things I own. How awesome to have such a portable little heirloom! For several years, I had plans on fixing it up, repainting it, just adding my own flavor to it. 

A few years ago,I decided I wanted to "get crafty" so I grabbed The Stool out of the shed and came up with a plan to get it looking presentable. (FYI---I really had no plan...I just kind of did whatever seemed right. Ha! I'm a very spontaneous "crafter").

I brought it in and set it on the kitchen floor, telling little Selah that I was planning to fix it up cute. She put her baby blanket on it and said she thought that was pretty cute. 

It was...but not quite what I had in mind! I wanted to try and take the paint off but, since I was only using the things I had around the house, I had to improvise. I used my Pampered Chef spatula to begin scraping off the top. 

That lasted about 5 minutes and I was sick of it so I decided just to paint over the 3 other layers of paint and hope that it would crackle neat! 

It did! By the way, I tried and tried to pry that nail out of there but it wouldn't budge. I kinda like leaving it there though as my mom put it there and it's kind of been a little joke over the years! I needed to find some way to cover it though! 

After a couple coats of paint, I decided to stop for the night and consider options for the next step. 

The next day, I remembered that I had several yards of some pretty fabric that my friend JoAnn gave me. I decided to make a cute cushion for the top. Using my then 8-year-old Michael's school ruler, I measured out a circle that I hoped would fit.

I'd never made a cushion before so I wasn't really sure what to do---when suddenly, I remembered a Christmas craft project that we did in the 5th grade! Mrs. Neyman taught us how to make mini-pillows and string them together for wreath ornaments. 

I stitched all the way around the circle.

Little Avalon helped, of course! 

Then I filled it loosely with pillow filling. Once I set the cushion on the stool, I realized that The Nail was still very obvious. So, I hot glued eyelet trim all around the top and then glued the pillow on. 

Not bad for a 21st century makeover! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Uncle John's Fudge

Today my Mom, Christy, is guest posting with a childhood memory and favorite family fudge recipe. Thanks, Mom!

Before my mother passed away in 1987, she gave her special, deep, cast iron skillet to her brother, John who loved to make old fashioned fudge. Until the 80's it was not considered old fashioned to cook fudge on the stove. When microwave ovens came out, the chocolate chip microwaved fudge became the way to make it, as most people had both parents working by then and no one had time to stir and watch thermometers. I believe my mom said the beloved skillet belonged to her dad, my grandpa Kiggins, who died before I was born. I was glad mom gave the skillet to Uncle John because I have such wonderful, magical memories of him making fudge at midnight and watching Johnny Carson with me and Aunt Paulette while we waited for it to set.

Uncle John, my mom's brother, and his wife, Paulette, would go get me when school let out in the summer. They'd take me to their house, which was four hundred miles away, and spoil me for a couple of weeks. I was nine years old the last time I remember going. They had two little boys, Johnny and Michael, so they loved having a little girl in the house. Uncle John worked the graveyard shift at the coal mine so he would get off work at midnight. Me, being used to my nine o'clock bedtime at home, thought it was great when Aunt Polly put my little cousins to bed and kept me up waiting for Uncle John. Quite often, he would come in the door with a joke and a wink and get out his cast iron skillet. Everyone had one in those days. The anticipation was almost as good as the fudge.

Today I made good old fashioned fudge and poured it into my mom's 8" X 8" square "fudge pan." When I was a kid it was always referred to as the "fudge pan" and mom gave it to me when I left home in 1974. As I sit here and eat my fudge, pleased that it did not "sugar," I think back to the summer of 1966 and miss my Uncle John, Aunt Paulette, and Johnny and Michael. Those days are gone but as mom once told me, "Chrissy, no one can take away your memories!"
The skillet and the fudge pan will most likely be passed on to the new generation as time goes on. Too bad pots and pans can't tell stories. Or, can they?

Part of the JOY is in the presentation. I used this pretty plate that my daughter made me in 2006 to serve my fudge. It became even more special in 2011 when she named my granddaughter, Kynthia Joy!

Cocoa Fudge
3 c. sugar
2/3 c. baking cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Butter an 8"X8" square pan. In a large cast iron skillet, stir together sugar, cocoa, salt and milk.
Cook over medium heat until it comes to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, WITHOUT stirring, to 234ยบ degrees, making sure the thermometer does not rest on bottom of skillet. This can take up to 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until it thickens and looses some of its gloss. Pour into pan, cool, and cut into squares.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Regency Dresses and Homemade Caramels and Preparing for England 2016! #janeaustenfestival2016

Welcome to the Homemaking Party! As I promised yesterday, I've got a few updates to share with you about my upcoming trip to England. If you missed my post from yesterday, be sure to check it out and see some of the highlights from last year's visit to the Jane Austen's House Museum.

Last week I worked on this pretty coral dress and finished it Sunday afternoon. I'm considering wearing it for the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, along with an open robe I made last year from a sari a friend brought me from India.

 But then there's this pretty flowered material that I cut out today! I'll be working on this day dress this week and am adding a couple extra touches to it, inspired by Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth Bennett.

In addition to dress-making, I've been making caramels to sell to friends to earn some spending money. Sales are going well so far---they're always a hit! Here's a link if you'd like to order: Caramels from my Etsy shop.

Hope everyone is having a beautiful week! Thanks for stopping by The Homemaking Party!

Encouraging Kids' Bible Study Ideas with Buddy Box #growkidsfaith #FamilyFaith #familybuddybox #PMedia #ad

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Lifetree, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #growkidsfaith  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

The Coller Kids had a super great time last weekend playing and learning with their new Buddy Box package. Buddy Box is a monthly subscription for kids that gets them excited about growing their faith and relationship with the best buddy of all—Jesus. Each box features a lesson, games, projects, and more, all centered around a Biblical theme.

Last Friday night, Cainan got the first look at the box and prepared a lesson for his younger siblings. They spent a couple hours learning about overcoming fear in a Biblical way through stories, music, games, and crafts. 

The Buddy Box came with more ideas than he had time to use in one lesson. He's super excited to do more with them this coming week. As a parent who doesn't promote Halloween, I love it that this lesson is geared toward addressing the subject of fear without bringing up the "holiday". It gets harder by the year to find Christian materials that really are promoting a Biblical message and this first introduction to the Buddy Box subscription was encouraging.

Some of the kids' favorite activities featured chattering teeth, a rubber chicken, and this canvas bag decorating project.

The kids wrote out one of their favorite verses, Joshua 1:9, and then decorated this bag with scenes that remind them to have courage and faith.

The slime pot was also a big hit! 

With our busy schedules, it's so important to make lessons on values and faith a priority. The child-led Buddy Box helps parents make memorable connections with their kids and gives them ideas to discuss Jesus and the Bible in ways that make sense and gets them excited about the things of God.

Buddy Box makes sure kids will be inspired to be creative in their play. Avalon was so inspired, she made up a joke: 

Q: "Why did the rubber chicken cross the road?" 
A: "So he could streeeeetch his legs!" 


Monday, August 8, 2016

Visiting with Jane Austen's Family in Chawton, Hampshire

It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by since Lynzie and I got back from England! Now that I'm preparing to go again here in a few weeks, it's occurred to me that I've never shared much from our trip! Today I'll give you a little peek at our visit to Jane Austen's home in Chawton, Hampshire.

Jane Austen's House Museum is full of items that belonged to the family, as well as pieces that are similar to what they would have had in their home. This is Jane's writing desk---probably the most photographed item in the house!

Jeremy Knight, fourth great nephew to Jane Austen, is usually on hand to answer questions and tell stories. He was delighted to see Lynzie dressed as "Aunt Jane" and even had a staff member come in to listen to her play piano in the parlor.

After we'd finished visiting the house, we took a walk up to the Chawton Manor house. On the way, we passed these men replacing the thatch on this house. I'd never seen this process before so we stopped for a couple minutes and my friend, Frances, explained it to me. Look how sweet the trim is along the top!

Here's Lynzie with Chawton Manor in the background. They weren't open for tours that day, but Mr. Knight called ahead to give permission for us to tour the grounds. 

On the way back down, we stopped at the church on the estate and visited the cemetery. Some people are uncomfortable in graveyards but Lynzie and I think they're beautiful and peaceful. Doesn't she just look like she totally belongs there?

Here are the gravestones for Jane Austen's mother and sister. Jane is buried in Winchester Cathedral. She was moved from Chawton Cottage to Winchester shortly before her death, in hopes that doctors in the city could provide effective treatment.

I won't be going back to Chawton this year, but my husband has agreed to (finally!) come with me next year so I'll be sure to make Hampshire a priority stop on the tour I set up for us!

Hope everyone's having a great week. I'll be back with more England photos, as well as an update on my dress-making progress, tomorrow!
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