Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A little peek to our little house



So there you go, some photos of our home! I see I'm missing overall pictures of most areas, because it just hasn't been tidy enough to take sweeping pictures of the living room and so on! There always seems to be some pile of random misplaced stuff or another - and huge piles during renovation projects - so I need to make and effort to finally organize the rest of it! If you look carefully you will see some wallpaper remnants on the log walls and there will continue to be things to do in the house. I'm not aiming for "perfection" in that sense - an old house should look like an old house, and it's okay to have small projects waiting and obviously so. It's the disorganized things that get on my nerves.

I've used old things in the renovation, kitchen cabinets from the 50's and the cast iron bathtub. They were cheap and they look like they belong here. I don't mind having things from different decades, it's how houses sort of evolve organically. I have original floor planks, windows from the 80's, kitchen from the 50's, some antique furniture and our couch is 70's design. I don't want to live in a museum, and I also don't like all modern everything. Cost and aesthetics are both important but functionality is above all. The kitchen now finally has the moldings.

I'll post more pictures later when I get around taking some.

I will also make a separate post about the garden as I have tons of pictures. I think the garden, especially flowers, are my weak spot! I'm already looking at flowers to plant in the spring. I still have lots of space left in the garden! 

I am very thankful for this blessing of a house that is now our home. 
When we moved in and lived in the middle of a chaos on multiple fronts, Indiana said that this is the most cozy home she has ever lived in. And that she doesn't want to have white walls ever again 😄 I personally have nothing against white walls, but as it is, there are no white walls in the house, though most are light. The clay and stucco walls are tinted with natural pigments and then there are the old wallpapers and now some bare logs visible.

The chimney is going to be cleaned today and I will ask about installing a wood stove in the kitchen, which I would like to do.
I think I will paint this old ladder today and do finishing work on the sweater I knit and finally got done yesterday. 

Then there is organizing the upstairs sewing room that is waiting to be done and two large paintings need a storage place but the larger one doesn't really fit anywhere. It's too large to go up the stairs even. The persistent bronchitis I have has been slowing down my effort to get everything in order for Christmas, but there is still plenty of time. Which reminds me that I still haven't put the lights on our little cone shaped outdoor Christmas tree. Maybe I can do that today as well.


And here are some before-photos taken before we moved in. The house was built in 1935 and the kitchen was from the 70's and the bathroom addition was built in 1991. There was some smelly plastic (toilet freshener, yuck!) and water damaged particle board and broken tiles and so on. The kitchen window would not open because it was blocked by a too-long low cabinet. The bathroom did not have modern water sealing, the electric floor heating broke after we'd just moved in and burned the plastic flooring on top and the bathroom was really cold last winter.. The water heater broke, and when a new one was installed, the guy broke the toilet. So yeah, there were some things that needed fixing 😅 All in all the house had been taken good care of, it's just that things break when they get old.
Well, the electrical work was really weird. It's been replaced in the kitchen and the bathroom addition now, but still needs replacing elsewhere as it's not that safe. The radiators are new but made after old models. 

I got rid of the indoor electric sauna and turned it into a walk-in closet with the washing machine there as well. I decided to also get a dish washer. 

The living room floor planks were in a really rough condition underneath the layers, but I love them so much now! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Homeschool starts

Today is the official first day of our homeschool for the 7th grade. We homeschooled the 6th grade, and are now returning to it.
My homeschool philosophy acknowledges that children naturally love to learn. They will learn anything they are interested in learning and have motivation for.
Different learning methods suit different children. In homeschool we can use many methods and try different things. We can concentrate on English this month, and math and chemistry the next, if we so choose. So I don't want to have strict schedules to follow. We will spend more time on things that Indiana is interested in, and go through quicker the ones that she doesn't care about so much.
I think that it's sensible to emphasize learning languages and basic math, and other skills that useful in life like tech, finances, renovation and gardening. The things that you can easily look up from the internet nowadays, are not going to be memorized for a test. We'll read though history, religion, geology and biology etc. and discuss things and Indy can do some of the workbook exercises. In general, I think discussing things are a better way to internalize things.
We will not do tests, as I don't think they are useful. They are a way in state school for the teacher to give grades, but I don't think there is a benefit to the student, quite the opposite. Children start to study for tests, not in order to learn. This often reduces motivation and makes children dislike school. Again, all children are different learners and have different skills and interests, but homeschool makes it possible to facilitate learning that suits my child and her particular situation.

So what is the plan for the rest of the fall (and beyond, as I have quite many projects in my mind!)?

ART - this is her thing. I'm a painter, visual artist and print designer by profession and I could see by the time she was 8 years old that she is more talented than I am. Her drawing skills are awe inspiring and she has an ability to make stick figures convey emotion.She has taught herself to animate and make and edit videos, and she has a sense of rhythm and drama. So my job here is mainly to get her supplies, and recently she has also started to paint small paintings on canvases as well using acrylic paints.

MUSIC - Singing at church, finding music to fit her animations and videos, going to a homeschooling friend's place to play instruments (the mother is a musician). Later making her own song with the help of my brother, who makes electronic music.

SPORTS - BMX biking and regular biking, walking, stretching exercises. Swimming in the summer. Horseback riding. Playing games.

CRAFTS - Technical crafts and woodworking will be doing small renovation and building projects with me. How to make traditional stucco plastering, tiling, wall painting? What are differences between natural materials and non-natural materials? Building a leaf compost, painting a storage shed, building a small greenhouse and so on. Sewing an oversized hoodie and other clothing for herself, and knitting something that she wants to knit in textile crafts.

HOME ECONOMICS - We will cook and bake together at least once a week, she can do laundry and be in charge of cleaning her own room and help out in other things. She will practise lighting the fireplace properly, how to store food properly and do dishes. Regular house work.

MATH, CHEMISTRY, PHYSICS - Her father will be in charge of these and we have the school books for these. I'm thinking that we should schedule a ste time for these. During sixth grade Indy mostly just didi the math by herself, as it was still quite easy. Chemisty and Physics are new subjects.

SWEDISH - Indy likes to learn using an app called Duolingo. Her cousins and a new homeschooling friend family are Swedish speaking, so that is good practice. Last year she read two comics books as well and we will try to find something interesting for her to read now too. We also have the school book and exercise book for her to use.

ENGLISH - Indiana learned English by herself by watching kids' programs in English, mainly Pokémon. She now reads whole novels in English and speaks and writes very well. She doesn't need teaching on this really, she can just continue learning the way she has been learning it all along. I will buy her books and she can write about them. She speaks English with some friends who do not speak Finnish.

FINNISH - Native language. We have school books for these, and reading and writing will be part of the Finnish language studies.

BIOLOGY, GEOLOGY, HISTORY, RELIGION, SOCIAL STUDIES - We will read books and watch videos, go to church and Bible study group and discuss things. We will learn gardening, about plants and planting, wild edible plants, forestry, different composting methods, and whatever we learn by reading the school books. I want to give Indiana basic financial education as well, so we will watch some videos about money and how the financial world works. What is money and how does it come into being? Few people actually know that!

It seems likely that Indy will work in the art and media field when she grows up, as that is where her talent and interest is. She can spend a lot of time on drawing, animating and making videos. For work practice she can do pattern design for my company, for example.
She has also started to to study HEBREW with the Duolingo app, so we will continue that.

I will post pictures and write about our homeschool here with the proper tag so the homeschooling posts are easy to find.

To sum it up, our homeschool is a mix of unschooling or freeschooling and traditional homeschooling, as fits us. Subjects are learned in different ways.I will make an effort to regularly meet with other homeschooling families and have enough social activity with people of different ages.

Here is an article that I gave for her to read for English and Religion. After she has read it, we will discuss it. Today we will also visit the police station to get her a new passport, and then open a bank account, for which she needs the passport. We'll go first to her dad's, have pizza there for lunch, and then go together to the police station. We can tie these things to social /civic studies and talk about the function of the police, and I have plans to teach her about finances and the monetary system. This is something that I think is sorely missing from the state school.

Monday, October 25, 2021

A little bit of prepping for a cold, dark winter

I lit a fire in the fireplace and heated water for a large mug of coffee. I just came downstairs after sewing a patch on Indy's denim jacket , which she'd been asking me to do. Upstairs consists of two small rooms, the first one is for painting and sewing, and the second is Indy's room.
Downstais is a large kitchen and a living room the same size, a small alcove where I sleep, entrance hall, toilet, bathroom and now a small laundry /dressing room, which used to be a sauna. We have a 100 years old log sauna in the garden with no running water or electricity. The house itself was built in 1935 from logs as well and it used to be a farmhouse.

I peeled off the layers of particle board and plastic. The old floor planks are each one unique, and beautiful with their imperfections. How many feet have touched them, I wonder? This one wide plank had been badly hacked, apparently to fit under the subsequent flooring. I sanded and sanded some more, and it still stands out, but I love it. The finishing isn't even, but I don't mind. I only had a couple of weeks to fix the floors before we moved in!

The bathroom addition was built 30 years ago and I'm just about finished renovating it now. It is beautiful with stucco, Moroccan tiles and an old bathtub and vintage or vintage style elements.
I will post before and after pictures of the house soon!

I still have some work to do in the garden before winter comes. I should protect the fruit trees and berry bushes I planted, and I have some spring flower bulbs to plant still. In the middle of the dark and cold of the winter, I have the springtime with all the flowers to wait for.
I have planned to build a small greenhouse from old windows, and grow more edibles next year. I grew some potatoes, herbs, tomatoes, and bell peppers this year. And we got some raspberries and blueberries, even though it was the first year. There were already some redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes and a red gooseberry bush, which made tons of berries, so I froze a lot too. I only have small freezer in my fridge-freezer combo, so I need to get a bigger freezer.
As the world seems to get crazier by the day now, I have relaxed my standards of storing, or not storing things. Living in a house alone with my daughter it makes sense anyway. The stores are not too far away, but what if they deny access to the stores close by us, because I won't get the c-vaxx? I don't want to drive to a store all the time because I run out of things. Obviously we don't have tons of room for extra stuff in this small house, and with only a small shed for firewood and a few gardening things, I still won't turn into a hoarder.
I like to keep firewood, batteries, instant coffee (because even a zombie apocalypse is more survivable with coffee, I tell you!), dry yeast, flour, baking chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, cooking oil, some water, things like that. Extra wool blankets for super cold nights. I have electric radiators, but so far this fall only Indiana keeps hers on. I light the fireplace and at night I snuggle under multiple wool blankets. And I wear wool socks, because the floors are cold. Perhaps we need more rugs.

I still want to dig a well for water, I used too much water this past summer because it was scorching hot for weeks on end and I had little fruit trees and things to water. And I want to install a wood stove in the kitchen, that is next on my wish list for the house. We do have a firepit outside, so I can make my coffee there if we lose electricity this winter!

I do not miss our old city at all. We still attend the same church, as it is only a 40 minute drive from us. We also attend a Bible study here in our new hometown so we have made new local Christian friends. I'm also making friends with local homeschooling families, so that we have more of a social life. For a long time Indy was too sick to have the energy to really do much, but she is much better now and gets bored and lonely if we just stay at home too much.

As I read through my old posts, I saw myself talking years ago that the world seemed to have gone mad. If I would have to say something to my old self at the time, I would say: "You've seen nothing yet, so buckle up!" As it happened, both my personal life and the world in general was since sucked ever deeper in a vortex of crazy.
I see scared people all around me. Believers are scared, non-believers are scared. People are either scared of a virus and dying, or they are scared of being stripped of their rights, God-given liberties and bodily autonomy. I would be in that latter category, except I'm not scared. I'm definitely not scared of dying. I know that every second, every breath, is at the hand of my Lord. There have been some very dark moments when I wished I could just die. And I knew that I wouldn't, because I would not die one second before it is my appointed time. To be honest, I've had moments when I worried a little about my financial security. Sometimes it's more difficult to trust God in the small details, as if he would think them too small to attend to! It is not so. Some people feel like we shouldn't bother God with petty details, but I have to admit I've prayed for a parking spot when I have been running late, say, to Indy's doctor's appointment. In a moment of exhaustion, frustration with myself (why didn't we leave earlier?) it has not seemed a petty detail, as I've had tears in my eyes, like it was almost the last drop that I could possibly take. But he is a God who cares about every detail of my life. He wants me to talk to him about everything, the good and the bad, big and small. And God has a sense of humor. He does, did you know that? He sometimes makes me laugh. Like the time when I was first alone with Indy, a little over seven years ago. I was thinking about money, how to support myself. In little over two weeks' time I found eight coins on the ground. It seemed like every time I went outside, I would saw a coin on the side of the road, on the woodsy path next to our house, under the grocery store packing area. As I picked Indy from her pre-school and we went to the supermarket nearby, she said: "You are probably going to find money again mom". "Probably not, you don't just find money on the ground every day" I replied. And less than a minute later I found another coin and we laughed. After the eight coins, I said to God: "Okay, I trust that you will take care of us, you can even drop money from the sky if needed!".

Having gone through soul crushing times, having lost a lot, at some point you just get over fear. You survived all that, and you are still here. You survived even though you felt you wouldn't, couldn't possibly go on another day. And you surrender it all to God, little by little. And it is not that you don't care about anything anymore. No, it's that you care more freely, without fear of loss. You start to live one day at a time and life becomes simpler, lighter.

Don't let hardships turn you angry and bitter and self-pitying. Surrender to God, trust in him, as he is forever good, forever omnipotent, always gracious, infinitely just, he is perfect love and finally, he is holy, holy, holy!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Why Christians can't boast about their good works

The answer: They don't have any.

It's all God's work. All the good that I do is actually not me, it's God working through me.
How can I make this claim? Well, besides that it's scriptural, from my own experience.

You see, I used to be a lying, stealing, cheating, envying, gossiping, hating, coveting, lusting, blaspheming, idolatring, vile person.
And I used to think I was a pretty good person. I hadn't killed anyone or cheated on my husband or anything like that. I didn't think I was half bad.

Then I came to know God, and He showed me my wickedness. It was like a torch light aimed straight into the depths of my soul and my darkest secrets. The Holy Spirit in me condemned my sin. That's what he does. He condemns sin and glorifies Jesus Christ. Suddenly I was sickened with myself and I repented. And from then on my conscience was transformed and it would not let me sin like that any more. And whenever I sin anyway, the torch light shines on it and I have to repent. It is the in-dwelling Holy Spirit, that will start to work on us, peeling away evil and giving us a pure heart that wants to do God's will that is written in our hearts. If you ask God to do that for you, to start transforming you to the person you were meant to be, beware. He WILL do it. And it WILL hurt. But then you can repent and be forgiven, and it's glorious!

The Scriptures say "There are none good, no, not one."

So you say that atheists and people from other religions do good works too. Yes, they do. I used to do some good works. A morsel here and there. But I was mostly selfish. And then I would congratulate myself on a tiny good deed. But what I did not, and people do not realize is that all those good works are from God's grace and they wrongfully take the credit. If it wasn't for God's grace restraining us, people would be so evil that I think we would have all taken each other out a long time  ago.

(Just look at Syria. Look at Egypt. Look at Pakistan.. Need I go on? It's delusional think that we are going towards a new enlightened humanity that is capable of all good and becoming god-like.  It's scary to think what the Bible says about the restrainer of evil: It will be taken away at the very end of times and humanity is allowed to reach full depravity for a short while. )

I've been watching a lot of sermons and teaching on youtube. In one of them the pastor told people who thought they were "pretty good people" to think about having ALL OF THEIR THOUGHTS AND ACTS from their whole life span displayed publicly with the data projector to the wall in the front stage. Would anybody be willing to do that? Even knowing that all the other people in the room were sinners just like he was?

Ah, we are such rebellious people.
We want to be good.
We want to be God.
But our god is what we think about the most.
What consumes us the most.
We fight against the light that would show us our true condition.
It is against our sinful nature to humble ourselves in front of our Lord.
We hate that which would set us free.

There are really only two religions in this world : One of Grace, and one of Works. Only true Christianity does not ask for your good works. No, even more than that: It tells your good works are rubbish. Dirty rags. You can not please God with your works.  But oh how we want TO BE ABLE TO SAVE OURSELVES. We want to work our own salvation. Thus, all the other religions in the world are based on something you do to gain eternal life or enlightenment or whatever.

No, the good that I do is Jesus Christ working through me, a vile person who was saved. My desire to do good was given to me as a gift. What we are asked to do is "the will of my Father" in Jesus' words. The will of His Father is that we believe in Him whom the Father sent for us.

That's it- that's the work that we are asked to do. Believe in Him. He will do the rest.

Jesus Christ saved me from myself.

Hello, anybody out there?

Hi, it's me, Cat's Meow.
I was going to start a new blog for keeping track of my daughter's homeschool, when I saw that my old posts were back. Not published, but visible to me.
I read through them and started missing blogging!

My daughter is now nearly 13 years old, a beautiful, intelligent, kind soul with ever deepening faith which has been tried and tested. Life has not been The Cat's Meow, for sure.
I will talk some more about everything, but for now I will let you know that we moved to another city with Indy, a small old city by the coast where my sister's family lives. I bought a small house of 63 square meters / 680 sqft. Or by my calculations, 71 square meters /760 sqft. We moved here with two of our four cats. The other two stayed with Indy's dad, who also decided to move to this city and lives downtown, about 4 kilometers/ 2,5 miles from us. They get to see each other as much as they want, but she wants to live with me. I was firm on the fact that none of this is her fault and I will not force her to travel between two homes. No. And luckily she is now old enough to have a legal right to pretty much decide by herself, so her dad accepted it, moved close to us, and he has actually said he is happy with this arrangement. He says he sometimes misses us but generally he likes living by himself.

We are still married, even though divorce was filed for the second time. Neither of us has somebody else now, and even though initially I told him I was going to get a divorce, I then decided to wait and see, let him carry the consequences of his actions for once, and maybe, maybe he could prove to me that he really has changed and that I could trust him again.

I'm not sure I ever can though, as he broke my trust over and over. At the end I felt like my sense of reality was getting compromised. I was a wreck, and I decided that I can't live like this, and I am not going to give this kind of example to my girl, that this is okay and this is what marriage is like, and you just take any abuse and forgive and stay. And I realized that I CAN forgive and still NOT stay. I do forgive, but I can not trust.

Just recently Indy wanted to know what happened. I'd told her some basics, and said that she can always ask more when she is ready to hear. I promised again that I will always be honest. She has the right to know why this happened to her family. She was okay with us moving out after the initial shock. But then we became sick, it was at the time the c-virus hit Finland. She didn't recover and started getting more and more symptoms, which is why I started to homeschool her. She was too sick to attend school, yet the doctor at the hospital told me basically that there is nothing wrong with her and she needs to go to school and activate herself. When I was homeschooling her, and I knew that she wanted to move to live closer to her cousins, I thought, why not? Why pay high rent in the city, when the only reason we were staying was her school, and now she is not attending? So I bought our little house and we moved a year ago.

I've been renovating and gardening, I have my small business of designing and selling fabrics (see our webpage at hellin.fi ) and I'm getting back to painting fine art as well. I just sold an old painting, and I noticed that after a long time being into print design, I miss painting. I published a pattern book as well, that was a fun project. The book is sold out but when I have money I'm planning on a second edition. Also I wanted to translate it to English, as I already have the patterns in English.
But we'll see.

So, I guess I have done a lot of things, objectively thinking, as I've also struggled with physical ailments, when I was fainting sometimes multiple times a day, extreme fatigue and things like that. Not to mention depression, anxiety, sometimes pure, unadultered desperation. Have you ever cried form a place so deep that the tears came out as screams? I was asking, how will I ever survive this? How will I ever have the strength to go on, to take care of my daughter, to be a stable, comforting mother to her in her sufferings? I have wished I could just give up. But because of her, I couldn't and I can't.

I cried out to my Lord to just hold on to me, to keep my head above the dark murky waters that were pulling me down so hard. Just keep me close, keep Indiana close. Let your will happen in our lives, Lord, I accept it, but just hold on to us. Let me praise you Lord, let me feel your joy and peace when I have none! If I must go on living, let me live ever closer to you Jesus!

So, I will try this blogging thing again. I will be writing about homeschooling, renovating, simple living, faith.. Things I used to write about, but also keep track of what we do for school. Indy has her own non-public homeschool blog where she posts things she does, things like essays from books she read and her drawings and animations, so I won't be sharing those here. Well, maybe some of her photos and artwork, as she is amazingly talented!
The photo of me at the beach, wearing a hooded denim jacket, was taken by her, by the way. I'm telling you she is more talented than I am at drawing, she has an ability to make stick figures convey emotions! But more about everything later. I hope to see you around!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Long time.. what's going on..

Hey there my dear readers!  I wrote a two-part guest post at Weecos blog, about my simplicity journey, and you can read it here if you want to -
Part one
Part two

Though I didn't really like the added stock photo of a messy table with things to get rid of.. because I would have liked all of the photos to have been mine (it's not like I didn't have any messy photos..) this one just sticks out, but oh well..

Life is rolling along, I was really busy in July filling orders, and in August preparing for the Design Market. After that was over, it's been nice to have time to work on my print patterns, sew things just for fun -like things for Indi and myself, and gifts. And just take it easy for a while. As you can see, the autumn is here, the wool sock season began weeks ago for me!

I got rid of some excess furniture after re-doing my work space. One huge desk, three arm chairs, one drawer thing, one antique coffee table (that was always going to my sister's house, but it just got stuck at our place) and one low side table are gone.  The low side table and  flowery arm chair never quite found their place so they were given to friends. When we moved here, I really wanted to make this place a cozy home for us, and I also used decorating as a distraction, I think. But all the things I got were vintage, not new stuff, and I also gave away and sold what I didn't want after all /anymore so it didn't stay at our home or storage for long. I'm keeping the drawing table with the top that can be lifted up, as I'be been drawing on large papers and it's definitely useful. And there is a corner in our living room where it fits nicely.

Also having, well, a few cats, made me realize that I really don't want fabric upholstered furniture anymore. Leather is much easier, so those are the ones that we kept. My husband has asthma and I think he was relieved when I wanted to get rid of the fabric covered furniture.

We painted one wall in my studio with magnetic paint (only a part of it, as it's really expensive and you need a thick layer for the magnets to actually stick!) and chalkboard paint. So I can put up stuff easily and take it away easily too. I like that. The old picture wall above my desk in the studio started to feel stuffy, and of course there were a bunch of nails, and they are never at the right spot if you want to put up something different.  I also like to put up To Do-lists, and things that are not meant to stay for long.

So, that's mostly it - normal life, and I like that the best! Indi has school for four hours a day and no afternoon activity, so she is with me quite much. Her friends come over to play with our cats and sew. She has one friend with whom she goes to sing in a church choir and that's her only hobby outside of home at the moment. Well, she does go pokémon hunting with her dad, and cousins sometimes. :)
I work, some designing and pattern making, some sewing, print design, packaging and shipping orders, things like that. The best part is designing.. but I would not like to do it under pressure. I'm happy with the amount of work at the moment, as I have my limits both time- and health-wise.

I'm still amazed at the work God has done and is doing in our lives and in our hearts. I trust Him with our future too.