Thursday, June 25, 2009

wonderful summer days, and gifts for...well, me!

We love our gloriously hot summer days!!

During the day, it's all a fabulous flurry of kiddie pools and sprinklers, watermelon and sunscreen, summer crafts and sidewalk chalk.

And when the energizers crash at night, then it's my sewing & craft time!
Who better to try new recipes and "patterns" out on but myself? Yes, it's such a sacrifice.

I feel like the king's wine tester. Mmmm.... good wine.

I made this necklace the other day, just because I needed a brief change of pace.

It had been too long since my last bead-string-delight.

Then back to sewing!! I got this red material, with smocking at one end, on sale the other day. It just looks so summer-y, so I made myself a dress. Really, this was the simplest thing I could have done with the fabric. I just sewed it up according to my measurements, hemmed, and attached straps.

And the new little apron... which I actually made for The Artist. She can wear it next. :-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Super easy, fast, shirt-saving fun!

Refashioned shirt

Liked the shirt. Didn't like the stains on the sleeves. And how many t-shirts does one girl need? Better question: how many things can one girl do with t-shirts?

I started by getting scissor happy. Sleeves, be gone! Then I haphazardly cut off the neckline as well. Who needs a neckline? Remember, I'm not going for perfection, I'm just going for "cute!"

This isn't the best tutorial, so just bear with me and fill in the blanks with mental pictures. You can do it!! (Hear me cheer you on?)
Turn the shirt inside-out and sew up the open sides, where the sleeves were. Just sew straight down from the top.
Next step has no pictures. Sorry, I get rollin' and forget about the camera.
Measure above your bust with a cord of elastic. Cut as much as you need. Now, with the shirt still inside out, just turn the fabric under slightly (baby hem, as I call it) and sew along that hem all the way around. Then stick your elastic on that, fold down again, and sew right under where the elastic is, to make a casing for it. Yeah, yeah, I know you technically should fold, fold, sew, and thread elastic through. But who has time for that, when shortcuts work just as well. Even great seamstresses, like my Mimi, will tell you that. (And when someone experienced suggests sewing tips, I never look back!)
What do you think? A cute 'lil "tube top," still very modest. I paired it with athletic shorts and my new jean apron. I'm setting new fashion trends. :-)

If you adore the front design of a shirt, but it's too large, just take in the sides first. Or, if the shirt is too small to start with, you could cut the sides apart & sew strips of coordinating fabric in between, to give it more width.
I'm not pinching my sides, really. I'm merely trying to hide my chipping red fingernail polish. ;-)
Imagine the possibilities!

A mentor

A Teachable Heart asked who is your Titus 2 mentor?

As you know, Mimi has pancreatic cancer, which I've written about several times. These past few days, on the heels of her visit here, have been very hard for her physically. She's been ill, and not able to keep food down. Please stop and say a prayer before you continue on...

Like I said in this post, I had a wonderful childhood with very loving parents. In addition to a great family life, my adoring grandparents also lived in our small town until I was 10-years old. So when I was not at home or in school, I was at my second home---my Mimi and Papaw’s house.

At their home, a majority of my time was spent shadowing Mimi’s every move---and move we did! We were always sewing, cooking, gardening, learning and talking. Mimi tutored me in math, taught me cooking short cuts, and showed me how to entertain.

She is still teaching me.

Below, we were working on a new skirt when she was visiting earlier this month.

Like most teens, I went through some trials and tribulation. I have had to overcome a lot life from that period, but I cannot think of one time when Mimi's words of wisdom and love have not guided and comforted me.

My grandmother has worn many hats during her lifetime. She has been married for over fifty years, raised four children, got her bachelor's and master's while her kids were in school, and then spent her life teaching. Her energy and enthusiasm for life has always amazed me. Here she is, at a restaurant with us, about two weeks ago.
Looks like her energy matches that of my four kids, eh? :-)

My grandmother grew up in hard times. She remembers working as a dishwasher for a restaurant when she was very young, just to make ends meet after her father died. However, her hardships and age have never made her bitter or any less of an independent thinker. She has always had a way of seeing the best in everyone. If life handed her lemons, she never settled for just making lemonade! She was much more likely to put together lemon fruit cups, with lit candles and a lace tablecloth. :-)

Mimi always encouraged hard work and new thought, graciously entertained those who came to her home, and spent all of her spare time for others. She is certainly an "acts of service person," in the way she shows love. Now, as an adult, I realize just how ahead of her time she has always been.

A woman who brings joy to others
Just by being herself!
I love you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

water, friends, and family

Genesis 1: 9
And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

We l-o-v-e water.

Dash enjoys his watermelon without ever leaving the creek.

Little Lad with his admirer.

The water hole

Fred practicing his Jesus (and Peter) moves.

Water-baby gets some lovin'.
Julie's pretty gal splashin' and shining!

Nature Man in his element

Julie's little man was my garden-waterer today.

Melon babies
Psalm 23: 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reminder packs: the housework system

When I was a kid, life was easy. Too easy?

I grew up in an amazing home, with two parents who loved me and my sisters dearly. We were always having "family time." I remember numerous camping trips (practically every weekend in the spring and fall,) trips to the lake and pool, traveling around to different states. When we lived on the east coast, my parents took us to the Charleston market and Kiawah Islands beaches all the time. We had game nights every weekend. We were given the choice throughout our school years to attend public school or be homeschooled. We had long talks on long walks, special days, and we were encouraged in everything we pursued. I had a wonderful childhood, and I'm still close to both of my parents, and talk to them every day.

Just wanted to start with that, before saying that I was ill-equipped for marriage and housekeeping. My Mom was a stay-at-home mom most of my childhood, and she took care of everything on her own. I don't believe it's because she thought it would be faster. And she certainly loved spending time with us. I think she just wanted us to be kids, have fun, relax. She was a good housekeeper, and she had it all under control. Why bother us with it? Three girls in the house were usually pretty peaceful. And not terribly messy. She would let us read, and she'd bring us fresh fruit to eat. Yes, okay, I was a bit spoiled (lucky? maybe. blessed? you bet!) At the time, it all seemed very normal.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't completely coddled! I did earn my own money, and I worked diligently in school. I helped my sisters. We loved to travel, but a tent was fine for the night. And we would walk for hours, on trails or shopping (it wasn't as if I had servants that carried me around, just so you get the right idea here.) We also never complained about hours of walking. It was wonderful just being together and talking.

Suddenly I got married (albeit very young,) and my house was messy. I mean, really messy. No one was cleaning it. I didn't know how to sweep. Or work a washing machine. I'd do some stuff here and there, but I also worked full time. When would the laundry end? It was a huge adjustment and I felt inadequate for the job. Then one day I realized that it was ME. I'd brought my bad habits and less-than-joyful-attitude about work into my marriage. I am a reasonably intelligent adult, but I was floundering in all of my endeavors because I was not accepting my responsibilities contentedly. It didn't seem like a good fit. ;-) It still doesn't feel natural for me, as it seems to for some. I'd rather paint and decorate than dust any day! I DO work hard on the house, but not necessarily consistently!

It's taken many years for me to get over my bad attitude and realize that the laundry is not going away on its own.

Although I *usually* keep my house decent now (maybe not so recently,) I still will find myself wanting "fun" time instead. I developed slothful habits from inconsistently helping as a child. It carried over: if I want a clean house now, I can quickly make it spotless. However, if I'd rather do something else, I just neglect my home and end up with tornado-looking-wreckage. Granted, I'm usually doing creative things with the kids. But there has to be a balance.

To top that off, I've always had a hard time figuring what what the kids should be doing. The Artist and Nature Man have been responsible for dishes for years, which is a huge burden off. But there are hundreds of other things to get done each day, and only one mommy. Plus cooking. Yep, homeschooled kids have to eat, too. How much work is too much for kids? It's hard for me to gauge. I tend to be on the lenient side, (big surprise there.) As in, it's been hard for me to enforce the simple rule, "Don't put it down, put it away." Because, really, it's easier to throw our flip flops right inside the door and take off running to the backyard for sprinkler time, rather than walking to closets to put them away. It's the simple stuff that builds up.

I finished reading Managers of Their Chores, and enjoyed it. I don't agree with everything, but there is much to glean. It's helped me SO much in just getting my chores listed, age-appropriate responsibilities, and sample schedules. We've started using "Reminder packs" (the Maxwells call them chore packs in the books, but I include more than chores and would like to avoid the negative connotation of "chores"...maybe it's just negative to me...?)

So far they are working GREAT! It helps keep our day flowing, and limits distractions. What is a "reminder pack" you ask? Why, it's a little name-tag-looking-do-dad that you clip handy-dandy to your shirt. Do the chore on top. Then move that one to the back and go to the next, until you get back to the beginning. Works wonders. For one thing, who doesn't love to wear clippy name tags?? Second, the cards have fun little pictures on them that I drew (while neglecting the laundry. Go ahead and laugh.) Yea for art! :-) Third, the kids are doing this "all by 'self," and they are proud of their accomplishments. They know that I'll check their work when they return the clippies. Everyone benefits from accountability, right? The "before" me would tell them to clean their rooms, and then I wouldn't check. Tsk, tsk.

This is also their chance to show off their awesome job.

Besides the typical chores, I also included things like "recite your memory verse," "have your prayer time," and "read to baby brother when you finish your work." It's nice to throw in some easy and fun things that we plan to do anyway.

Nature Man decided to have his prayer time

in the living room yesterday...

and look who watched and followed the example...

love it.

I hope I'm equipping the kids with good habits (and good attitudes,) strong work ethics, and consistency.

My parents were fabulous, just fabulous. I don't mean this as a criticism in any way. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it? Someday, despite all of my efforts, my kids will look back and decide to try something differently. I hope they'll say what I say now, "I had such an amazing childhood. Now, with my own kids, I think we'll try this..."

Btw, we do the scheduling throughout the school year, but I'm not great with it through the summer. I l-o-v-e to be outside, love to visit with people, and I love to craft/ paint/ sew/ etc. So we "wing" it throughout the warmer months. But now, hopefully, we'll just wing the middle part of the day, and keep the morning and evening more structured, with a smoothly running home.

Any tips on what works for your family?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jumpstart for Father's Day

We have oodles of things planned for my most-amazing husband this Father's Day.
These are the things we've been working on today...Yes, I'm a messy crafter.

And I'm sewing this, to bring his Sangria (non-Alcoholic, the way he likes it) in on Father's Day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Puppy Pancakes

My Mimi gave me a printout for the cutest little breakfast idea, so we tried it out this morning.

I used Mimi's recipe:

2 c flour

2 T sugar

4 t baking powder

1 t salt

2 eggs

2 c milk

4 T oil

This makes enough for a family of six (or about 7 puppies...)

Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside. Whisk together "wet" ingredients. Then stir together just until combined. Heat nonstick griddle to medium and cook away.

Each puppy pancake requires three pancakes, two medium sized and one small. Place one chocolate chip (or raisin) in the small pancake for the nose. Place two chocolate chips in a medium pancake for eyes, and leave the third pancake plain. Use a piece of fruit roll-up for the tongue and whipped cream (or powdered sugar, peanut butter, etc) for the doggie fluff on top.

Another great recipe for whole wheat pancakes:
2 eggs
1c whole wheat
1 c white flout
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 1/4 c buttermilk
2 T oil or applesauce
Make as you normally make pancakes. Enjoy! We did!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kid designs: Camo Samo

Nature Man decides on his fabric, shape, and eyes, nose.
Ready to stuff the monster...
Nature Man started out carefully...
...and then got a bit more ambitious!
Sewing the hair on. I did this for him.
He documented it, through photography. ;-)
oops. Meant to put the nose on before we stuffed Samo.
My last one didn't have a nose, so I got confused.

No worries...
Nature Man and his creation.
Quiet Wyatt meets Camo Samo for the first time.
Love the simple monsters. They aren't perfect
and they aren't meant to be. :-)