~a life well spent~


After my doctor’s appointment yesterday I went to Target and got some odds and ends for baby….pacifiers and yummy Burt’s Baby Bee soap and lotion, and the little blue booties (which were only 75 cents). 

After Target, and a stop in to visit my sister, I went to Barnes and Noble and treated myself to lunch–soup and half a sandwich–which I ate while browsing through the pages of a book that I ended up buying because I liked it so much. 


It’s so inspiring….I’m not going to try to do a book review, but I encourage you to try to find it for yourself, and take a peek. 

I will share my favorite page, however…….from a section in which the author is describing her fondness for older domestic paintings, paintings of everyday life from years gone by.



It is titled “A Life Well Spent”, by James West Cope (1878).  It pictures a mother, knitting with a book on her knees, her two young children standing in front of her, and her daughter sitting on the floor, reading a book and rocking the baby’s cradle.  In describing the painting, the author of the book had a lot to say, including these quotes which I underlined in pencil:

“I believe that for some women this (the domestic life) has been and still is, indeed a life well spent.”

“This mother was doing something incredibly valuable and enjoyable.”

“I reckon that any mother who knits red-and-white-striped socks while listening to her son’s catechism must have hidden depths.”

I enjoyed the painting and thoughts so much because I can relate in such a personal way.  I’ve recently begun what I imagine will be a lifelong love of handiwork….the crochet projects will start out simple, with simple stitches until I feel comfortable enough to do more challenging work.  The small embroidery projects, join the already constant baking in the kitchen….all with various sized little ones about me.   It truly is a life well spent, and worth enjoying every ounce!


After taking the pictures and looking through the book this morning, AND working on my own crochet, I happened across an old letter from my Great Grandma (who has since passed away).  In it, she described to me the projects she herself was working on (at 90 years of age):

“I did an afghan that had 836 little squares in strips of 38 and 22 rows put together with white 3 times around each strip.”

“I am just finishing up another Granny square afghan 8 squares wide and ten long.  I’m putting the edging on it and then I’ll be finished.”

“My morning glory bush is beautiful, lots of blossoms.  My sister Beatrice took a picture of me by it but I don’t know how it turned out.”

Part of the reason why I’m so excited to get involved in sewing, crochet, gardening (the gentle arts of domesticity!) is because I feel a connection with the women in my family as I work.  All of them…mom, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, sister, all have done their part to inspire me ….. by their example of being brave enough to try new things and enjoying their projects.  Painting, drawing, candle making, soap making, canning, sewing, knitting, crocheting, baking, LOTS and LOTS of gardening, painting and decorating the rooms of the home, I’ve seen all of those things as I grew up in a large family.  And now I’m awakening to it for myself in a larger way, and truly seeing what a beautiful life we women can make for ourselves in our homes. 

And I can’t tell you how tickled I was to have Jacob, Ethan, AND Grace all crocheting with me today!  (Rich, however, doesn’t QUITE know what to think of his boys with crochet hooks, LOL).

Just a couple more random photos before I go:

Jacob took this picture for me.  A darling chickadee got in the “grapefruit swing” for a treat!  And, do you see the other bird in the upper right corner flailing, trying to get his balance on a flimsy weed?  Cute.


Also, I thought Grace and her Dad were so sweet together today.  They went for a walk, down to the ponds to see if our skating ice was ruined (it is)….Miss Grace took her bunny along (it’s on a harness).

Daddy and his girl.  It’s a pleasure to watch Rich interact with her, I’m so proud of him…and we are both proud of our Grace.

She’s quite famous for shutting her eyes during photo sessions.  So, I’ll just take this one as the realistic snapshot that it is.  Still cute.


Well, I’m going back to snuggle (under one of Great Grandma’s blankets!) on the couch and crochet for a little while before bed.  Thanks for stopping by for a visit to my blog.  I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

**I highly doubt I’ll have the baby before midnight, so it appears that I will have a little someone sharing my birth-month with me.  Another “Purple Amethyst” —only this one is the 2009 boy model. 


0 thoughts on “~a life well spent~

  1. that book looks wonderful. as do the sweet little blue booties. and the grapefruit swing!happy purple amethyst month ~ a great one to be born in if you ask me. 😉

  2. Lovely post, Shan.  I too am awakening to the creativity in me.  I never considered myself creative and disliked doing “crafts”.  Now I thoroughly enjoy spending time at my sewing machine or with a crochet hook or needle in my hands.  I’m hoping to finish a certain something before Seth arrives.  🙂

  3. Your posts are always so cozy!  My girls have been admiring your little birdie for a while.  Everytime I would scroll off the picture they would ask me to go back!  Burts Bees smells so good, it’s my favorite on babies!!! Your book also looks like a good read.  Have a great rest of your weekend!

  4. I want that book.  I’ve seen it reviewed on many sites, and I can’t wait to flip through it.  I love crocheting.  It’s so relaxing.  Once you get comfortable with it, let me know.  There is a great site that has tons of stitches with pictures and explicit instructions.  I’ve branched out a lot with it.  🙂

  5. The author has a blog too.  http://www.janebrocket.com, was looking over the reviews on the book on amazon and saw that she has a blog…very cute blog too.  I love Burts Bee’s I use it with my little guy and I actually got those very same booties…he was in and out of them in the blink of an eye…but I keep all his little booties and shoes cause I want to remember his little feet for as long as possible. 

  6. i think it was so neat reading a portion of the letter grandma wrote you,i miss her (so does my mom….alot, it brought me to tears). it doesn’t seem like it has been that long since she passed. i can’t wait to see her again someday. and now when i snuggle under one of her blankets,i know you are too. thanks for sharing.
     i love burt bees products!GREAT choice! i know it is way to soon for me to be thinking of another baby,but i miss having a little boy,jonathan is more fun now that he is almost four,but i miss the wanting mommy part,sienna and alaina both seem to want daddy all the time,(i’m just the feeding machine).jonathan was attached to me all the time.i don’t know quite how to explain it…..at any rate, i have my hands full for now and i’ll keep telling myself that!

  7. Love your grapefruit swing!    I put grapefruit halves out with grape jelly and bird seed in them ~ will add some peanut butter soon ~ had to go get more ~

  8. What a pretty book…I am going to have to find it!! Glad you are enjoying your projects, My Grandma (I live with her until my marriage in March) does all kinds of handiwork…crochet, embroidery, sewing, canning, and all sorts of things I have tried to absorb all I can. I can do a little of all of it…just need to time to perfect it…Have a good evening!!

  9. Its good to read how you are doing. I have not yet found my “nitch” in motherhood except raising the boys of course. It is exciting to read about what you are doing. SOOO many things. Have a great weekend.

  10. Sweet little chickadee, beautiful kitty, I’ve gotta look for that book! Burt’s Bees…I used that on my first baby a lot and she got the nickname “baby bee” now just “Bee.” 🙂 I finished the felt cookies today, I’ll post pics!

  11. OH- I’m so going to get the book you’ve recommended. Last spring you recommended Mary Janes Farm Book and it is my ALL TIME very favorite book. z
    I love your grannies letter. How precious.

  12. I enjoyed this post extra much!! Thanks for sharing about your great grandma. I certainly can relate to that. My own Grandmother passed away last summer at 102 and she sewed, quilted and crocheted all her life. Even in her last years she was still crocheting hot pads for all the children, grands and greatgrands! She even had quite a number of great-great grands.

  13. I have followed Jane’s work ever since I began blogging. Her sense of color is unmatched. I have wanted to paw through that book myself, but haven’t had the opportunity. We live out of range of such things as Barnes and Noble. You have me wanting to see it even more!Of course, you know how much I agree with you on the sewing/crocheting/knitting/smocking/quilting/younameit! I am happy to see a re-awakening of these arts. Such a connection between the generations. I only wish that I had taken some time to learn tatting from DH’s grandmother. I am fascinated with it. I have all her tatting shuttles…but need the hands on/show me instruction.:)Well, girl…it’s tickin’ down. I hope little Seth doesn’t keep you waiting too long. Looks like you are nesting…and that’s a good sign.You taught Rich the ropes about posting a baby pic, right?We’re counting on that.Resist the urge to clean the entire house!Deal?

  14. What a lovely lovely post! That book looks wonderful, and I will have to try and find it for myself. Did you find it at Barnes and Noble?
    Last week I actually changed my major… I left the nursing program. It just wasn’t fitting, and though I was excelling, I wasn’t doing what I loved. Now I am going to pursue horticulture, because I love to garden! Things of the home (mostly gardening) are what I love, so I am going to trust God that he will work things out for me. This post was very encouraging!

  15. I bought Jane Brocket’s book a few months ago and it has become one of my favorites. She inspired me to try a ripple stitch afghan – and I didn’t even really know how to crochet! Last night I made her recipe for flapjacks. They were incredibly good, sweet and rich.Enjoy your last few days of nesting before the little one arrives!

  16. As Elizabethmarie 1 said  Shanda, your posts always make me feel cozy too! I love seeing your tummy against the edge of the book. I have an Amazon gc to use and I’m going to look intho that book. It looks lovely.
    Have a blessed Sunday~

  17. HaHa that last comment was cute!  I really enjoyed this post and the words you shared from G Grandma’s letter.  That books looks so good.  I love seeing your belly full of Seth in the pictures.  I’m anticipating his safe, healthy, and happy delivery!  Love you Shan. Lish

  18. Aww. Love this. I just love stopping by your site. That book looks wonderful, and I love the belly shots that squeezed into the photos!! Only a little bit longer with that cute belly. 😉

  19. I always love your encouraging homey posts! Sounds like you had a lovely day, and the basket of goodies awaiting Seth is so sweet. It is wonderful to prepare and think that very soon you will be holding him. What a wonderful book…thank you for sharing the quotes and the picture. A blessing to see that life lived out. I love to garden…and I am currently praying we get to keep our city gardening plot!! We find out this week. Our friend, whose plot we have gardened in for two years, no longer lives in this city, so she can not have it any longer. There is a long waiting list and we are #10 on the list. so it depends if enough plots are available if we get to keep working in hers. We are hoping so, as my pots on the deck are not enough. Cute chickadees and so sweet to see Grace and Rich. blessings,Jenny

  20. I’ve been thinking of you, Shanda…specifically when I was in Agway yesterday.My husband has been sick so Mary and I are making him a cornbag. :o) That little baby basket makes me excited for you guys! Not long and we’ll get to see him propped on your shoulder with those little pacifiers in his mouth. :o)

  21. Once again, I’m loving your insights into domestic life and mothering.  Your blog is such an encouragement to so many.  Thank you.  Praying for you and sweet baby Seth as his birthday draws near.  So exciting.

  22. I have not seen that book, I don’t know how I missed it on the last trip to Borders, and it has not been at the library, but I know I would have picked it up and brought it home without even opening it, based only on the cover.  It is so many of our heartbeats.
    There is that quote that says “Oh Lord you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”
    I am going by memory so I may have left a word out.  I am pretty sure it was Augustine, but if not then it was Kempis (can you tell that I am too lazy to get up and go through my quote books to find out?)
    But anyway I think that it is also true that we feel most real and most alive when we are walking close to the Lord, and I think He created us as women, to  feel comfortable and “alive” loving our husbands, guiding/shepherding our children, and making our home.  It is my life call and what I know I was created to do, all of it is an act of worship.  This gentle art of domesticity is all part of His beautiful design. and why so many of us have an internal YES!!!! crying out inside of us when we see a book like that.

  23. My husbands grandfather has spent most of his days cross stitching squares for blankets for the great grandchildren, he just completed one for my twins.  So I’d imagine crocheting too will be a skill they can carry into their 90’s and bless there childrens childrens children with! while they sit and tell stories of their domestic mama who taught them, how she found fulfillment in serving her family, and all their childhood adventures!  I have a feed sack quilt from my grandmother i love to layer on the bed during winter.  Always enjoy your posts ~ Jan

  24. great shot of the bird 🙂 I too love to keep my hands busy by crocheting, knitting, and crafting. It’s amazing how those little few minutes of time here and there turn into something fun!

  25. Had to post a quick comment. . .the book looks fabulous. . .it’s going on my wish-list.  About the boys crocheting. . .my oldest son, Sam, was home sick during late November while I was busy embroidering pockets to put on aprons I made for my nieces for Christmas gifts.  He was dying to try it, so I drew out a design (Indian things that he likes) with his name right in the middle, gave him some embroidery floss, showed him what to do with the hoop, the piece of muslin fabric, and he was into it for HOURS.  He finished the whole thing by the time his dad walked in that night after work, and as he proudly showed off his days’ work, I could see the same thing in Tim’s eyes. . .”What is my SON doing embroidering with his mom all day?”  I explained that he was bored, he enjoys spending time with me, and his fascination with needlework would likely pass.  It has, of course. . .playing in the woods, building forts, playing basketball and doing woodwork is way more fun to him, but for just a day it was nice for me to enjoy the companionship of one of my sons doing something I like to do for a change. . 🙂

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