Category Archives: Family Home
When you have a family, even of average size, you don’t have much leftover space. You don’t have any space at all. The thought of a hobby or sewing room is out of the question for the majority of us. When the older kids leave home, suddenly you have some new options. Unless two children are sharing a room and long for their own, grab this chance for some private space before it gets pre-empted.
I did just that. The Singer sewing machine had been in the closet for years, and it was darn hard to keep pulling it out and setting it up every time I needed it. It was pretty new and state-of-the-art, and I was dying to try out more of its special features. I was therefore pretty excited about converting a newly available room for my own use. I’d been reading a few sewing blogs, like this one, and was keen to get to work. I could leave some of the furniture there—just add a work unit and a comfortable chair. I needed a storage cabinet for patterns and notions as well and decided to use a nice wood filing cabinet from the garage. After a little staining, it was perfect. The closet did just fine for fabric storage and items in a state of needed repair.
I moved the single bed against the wall so I could use the floor for pinning patterns and cutting. Since it was wood, it was a perfect flat surface. I am used to doing it this way in the absence of a big empty table. (The dining room is always occupied by assorted laptops and school notebooks—and you never know whether you’ll end up with some food that had been left behind staining the fabric.) I also installed a full-length mirror for fittings. It was looking very professional so I painted the room and removed the rather unsightly rock posters. I finally got a space for me, just me. No sharing or caring about others, just for once.
This room would turn out to be the source of hours of personal pleasure. I got into quilts and little colorful patterned squares were strewn inelegantly about the entire space. I could just shut the door. As they were added together one by one, a miraculous transformation occurred. Bits and pieces became an amazing work of art. It was lovely and I decided to cover the bed as a reminder of the power of handiwork on the psyche. It always fills me with pride whenever I see it.
Soon I was getting requests! It was very flattering. Obviously someone was paying attention when they were able to tear themselves away from the mobile phone and tablet of choice for the day. Cargo pants, cotton tops, stretch jeans, skirts, tote bags, and more appeared one after the other in rapid succession. I was spending more and more time with the beloved Singer sewing machine. A hobby was becoming a full-time job! When it comes to family, however, I will do anything. There is a lot of gratification in do-it-yourself projects that others appreciate. Some women paint, some crochet, and some garden. My forte was in one little enviable room.
I was lying on the couch after a hard morning and started to drift off. Glorious sleep was coming upon me, and soon some rather strange dreams. I was in the kitchen cooking as usual surrounded by a myriad of appliances. But there were some new ones: a meat grinder, some odd slicers, a food dehydrator, and more. But the meat grinder alone was growing larger and larger.
It was bright and shiny – like brand new. I was probably dreaming about it because I’d been reading some reviews on this web site that morning. It called to me silently in all its practical splendor. It was like a living creature of metal and plastic. The other gadgets lay about idly. It was so real, but I was not frightened. I didn’t think it was a dream, but I somehow knew it was not normal.
There was a body to the thing and a contraption on top. It was a combination of a kind of tray or receptacle, no doubt for meat, empty and begging to be fed. Below at the side was a spout of sorts like a gaping mouth ready to spew its prey. A chrome crank was on the other side (I know, they don’t use these much anymore!), looming large and ready for use.
I lay there dumbstruck contemplating this monster. Who or what was it? Why was it there? How would I conquer its power?
I rose from my slumber and approached the menace. Slowly, one step at a time, cautiously and warily. Closer and closer and closer. The spout grew teeth: enamel fangs that hung like icicles. The cord was curled and the socket moved with a snap into the nearest outlet.
The motor went on. I ran to the OFF button, but to no avail. The machine was purring and thrust into high gear. Suddenly I saw its eyes – big, silver and red orbs that glowered at me with a threatening stare. The body of the unit started to twist and turn, back and forth, to and fro, and stopped when it faced the refrigerator. Did it want something to eat? I opened the door of my big Subzero and groped inside. There it was! A package of red meat in a paper wrapper, never been opened (or even seen) before.
I removed the parcel from the shelf and it, too, seemed alive and breathing. With a gentle hand, I opened it to find what I expected: a five pound wad of animal flesh in all its bloody glory. Grabbing it by the edge, I flipped it into the grinder’s maw; and as it was already on, it immediately began its churning work. The meat came out of the spout (or should I say snout) in thin, perfectly-formed wormlike strings.
I gathered the wiggling strands and placed them on a plate. When they stopped moving, I shaped pieces of them into patties, adding a dash of salt and pepper by rote. After only seconds, I woke with a start from my afternoon nap to find my kids with a few friends standing before me. “Are the burgers ready yet,” they asked.
As the weather turns colder, I can’t help but become just a little excited. I love our fireplace because it brings my family a number of wonderful benefits that extend beyond the cold. I thought I’d share with you the reasons why I love my fireplace so that maybe it could help your family too!
- There’s an increased focus on the work at hand.
Jeremy and Grace love working by the fireplace in the morning when it is time to do schoolwork because it is an informal type of atmosphere. They feel comfortable and relaxed as we go through our lessons for the day and this helps them remember the information from each class in a more complete way. Even Michael says he tries to seek out a fireplace at school when he’s got to study!
- It saves us a lot of money on the bills.
I try to bring in some extra money when I can with my music and art lessons, but there are some months when everything gets very, very tough. That’s especially true in the colder months when the heating bills can easily triple when we’re using the furnace that’s in our home! By using our pellet stove as our main source of heat combined with a wood stove fan on top that doesn’t use any electricity, there are some months where we can easily save upwards of $300 and when you’ve basically got one full-time income, that’s grocery money.
- It’s beautiful to watch.
There’s just something about watching a fireplace in operation that makes me feel at peace with myself. Even when the kids are arguing with each other about who needs to do what chore, the fireplace helps me to be able to decompress and handle the drama.
- It’s very inspirational.
When I have a need to be creative, the fireplace delivers for me every time. Whether I’m working on a new composition or just have a desire to create, the flickering and popping of the fireplace seems to help my work be better than it is without. This process also helps to center me so that I’m making sure I’m pushing my kids toward what they want to be, not what I want or expect them to become. Jeremy loves writing lyrics in front of the fire, while Grace enjoys time painting there when we can get the easel set up for her.
- It brings the family together.
Even though Michael is away at school most of the year, the fireplace is still that one place that our family can be able to come together consistently. We can talk about our day, discuss plans for the future, or my husband and I can just talk about the bills in a non-threatening environment where we can all plan together. We play games in front of the fireplace in the colder months and these are memories that can’t be replicated by anything else!
Do you have a fireplace? What do you or your family love about your time in front of the fireplace on a cold winter’s day?