Monday, May 31, 2010

Bits of My Weekend -- A Swazi Adventure & Other Tidbits

If you read my Sew & Tell entry on Friday, you already know that I lost my Grandma on Thursday. Having made all of her arrangements in advance, the service was quickly planned and executed two days later, and that's that. Here I am in Moçambique trying to process it all.

I'm not one to escape reality, but I'll admit that it was nice to have several diversions over the weekend. On Friday, we received a kind invitation to enjoy hospitality from friends. A couple of mothers, whose teens occasionally hang out at our house, decided to have us for mid-morning refreshments to show their gratitude for our welcoming their boys into our home. I really enjoyed getting to know these ladies, and of course, spend time with my children and their friends.

No game has ever caused me more stress than Risk, but the children love it. They can have it.

While running errands on Friday afternoon, we saw this in the bay. It was just something new and interesting to see. Kudos to Morgan for capturing it while enduring my crazy Moz driving.

On Saturday morning we headed to Swaziland. A brief incident at the border caused us a bit of angst, but we got past it. I was afraid that Craig was going to practice some of what he learned in the military, but he's a patient man -- even when provoked by a fool.

The scenery in Swazi is so beautiful, but of our four visits to that country, only one brought sunshine. This was not the one.

One of our favorite places to visit in Swazi is near Manzini. The Sambane Coffee Shop hasn't let us down yet, and it's a popular spot for ex-pats. Also included in the little plaza is the Swazi Candles shop, as well as various other places for souvenirs and crafts by local artisans. Just outside is a crafts market, where I went slap-happy buying jewelry. I was in that kind of mood. (But really, is a mood necessary to buy accessories? I'm a girl. It's what we do.)

We weren't prepared for how cool it was -- it is nearly winter in this hemisphere -- so my sweet husband bought me this scarf to wrap around my shoulders. I love that guy for so many reasons.

The bracelet in this photo is one long strand, but some of the beads are magnetic, which keeps it wound around my wrist. Nice, eh? I was afraid this big, chunky necklace might make me look a bit like someone's favorite great-aunt (which, in fact, I aspire to be; but I don't necessarily want to look the part). Still, it is a perfect match for a particular dress that I bought in South Africa, so I couldn't pass it up. I like the flag bracelet, and in fact, wore it today with jeans and a white shirt. The earrings are self-explanatory. Who could resist?

For me, this Butternut & Feta Quiche was the pinnacle of the entire trip. The filo crust just did it for me. My quiches may never be the same again. And you simply must love a restaurant that adds avocado to the salad.

On our return trip to Moz, we stopped at Hlane Game Park so that our friends, Sheri and Kenyon, could have a small sampling of safari adventure. We arrived just before closing time, but we still had enough time to let them at least see a few animals. It ended up being quite the adventure, as we had a dangerously close encounter with a pachyderm matriarch who mistook us for potential baby snatchers. Have you ever had a mother elephant count to three before? We did. And we were glad to make it out of the park unscathed. (I'm pretty sure that my mother never remembers to read my blog, so it's probably safe to share this information.) If you'd like to see photos of our visit, click here. (Previous safari photos can be viewed here and here.)

On Sunday morning, I woke up motivated to bless my family. I needed to make bread, so I added cinnamon swirl to the batch, as well as some buns for dinner. (Thanks for the Black Bean Burgers, Caelyn and Morgan!) It brought me great satisfaction to see family members trickle down the stairs in search of the source of the aroma that finally tempted them from their beds. They came. They saw. They devoured. It was such a welcome treat.

Craig and the boys had a little testosterone moment. They're such fun guys! Before long, Dad won't be able to hang with his young warriors.

I added this for fun. Sunday was an upside-down day for me, as it was the first time in YEARS that I've spent the entire day in my pajamas. (And wouldn't you know: I received unexpected company. Remember Murphy?) Craig Grayson took this photo of me -- no make-up, hair undone, wearing a sleep cami. Upside-down seemed the best way to display it.

How was your weekend? Stop over at Michelle's and read about the adventures of others who play along.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sew & Tell Friday: Silver Linings

Please forgive me, dear Sew & Tell friends, as I boldly pull a "cheat" card this week. I have no finished product to share, but I assure you that I have what I've decided is a valid reason. I still couldn't bear to not participate this week, so please allow me.

Yesterday I sat down to my machine, inspired to work on a project for a friend. I had a fun idea for embroidery, but when I attempted to use the embroidery attachment on my (very expensive, rather new) machine, I was unsuccessful after several tries. So, I did what any mature woman would do: I tossed my supplies across the sewing table, moped upstairs, and took a two-hour nap.

When I returned downstairs, I checked email before returning to my sewing table. Within a few minutes, I received an email from my mom urging me to call her (via Skype, of course) as soon as possible. My dear Grandma Betty passed away yesterday morning after three years of struggle, culminating in severe brain trauma recently and a quick downward spiral over the past couple of weeks. Although I've anticipated this news, it is not easy to accept -- especially living halfway across the world.

Grandma Betty was such an important part of my life. My childhood was filled with weekends at her house, summers camping with her and Poppy, shopping, cookouts, playing countless games of cards, a couple of failed attempts at learning to crochet (why can't I get it?), and oodles of other memories. We were very close. She was certain that my sweet husband hung the moon and stars, and she delighted in my children, never forgetting a birthday (until recently, of course, when her mind started to go).

I'm determined to finally tackle crochet, in her honor. There are a few projects I'd like to eventually pursue. Above is fabric that I've posted before in other projects. I found it in her sewing box last year when she asked me to clean it out for her. I have no idea how long it's been since she's sewn anything, but I was pleased to have her personally offer that fabric to me. I've used it on several items, including an apron that I made for my mom (since this is her mother).

My precious family has been such a comfort to me. Craig came right home from work after getting the news and suggested we eat dinner out last night. (Japanese! Gotta love children who love octopus, sushi, and caviar.) He led the children in going around the table and listing pleasant memories of Grandma Betty. I am a blessed woman.

Today brought a couple of silver linings to this dark cloud of sorrow. First, I received an email from Liesl, stating that I am the winner of her most recent giveaway. How exciting! If you're not familiar with her site, do visit. She's a genius, and she's so adorable. Her projects and photos are gorgeous.

Also, with the help of a special "courier", I was able to have some fabric brought here. It arrived to me today, and I'm anxious to use it. I thought I'd at least share a photo of the beautiful new stack, still tied in the sewmamasew twill tape. Where to start?

I do hope to have a finished product to share next week. I look forward to seeing what everyone else has made this time. Thank you for reading along. Be sure and visit Amy and the other participants!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Good Sign

I am so much like my dad, it's scary at times. He insists on having everything neat and organized. If anything is out of place, it bugs him until something is done about it.

When our oldest daughter was old enough to use the bathroom and wash her hands without assistance, I would go behind her in the bathroom to tidy up after her. This usually involved straightening out the hand towel and shining the faucet with my shirt so that absolutely no water spots were visible.

Although I've allowed myself to release a bit of that neurosis, I still find it stressful to see things out of order. In fact, I've drastically lowered my standards in some areas. One aspect, in particular, took years for me to accept, but grace has definitely been needed for this.

My husband travels with some degree of regularity. When he comes home, it may take him days or even weeks to completely unpack and organize his things. There was a time when my opinion was that he should be more responsible for his things, as I had plenty to do to keep our home running smoothly. Over the years, though, the Lord has patiently taught me to see this situation from a biblical perspective. As his helpmeet, his interests have become more of a priority for me. After all, while I enjoy a great deal of latitude and autonomy by being a keeper of the home -- I love determining my own schedule! -- I shouldn't be so consumed with my own agenda that I don't take time to make things easier for Craig.

Years ago, I would become incensed about his leaving things lying around. I recall the turning point in our marriage in which I made a conscious decision to stop complaining about certain annoyances and joyfully serve him, instead. One day I walked into our bathroom and found his boxer shorts lying on the floor. Some hateful, unnecessary thought entered my head about being "sick of it" and "... never again...". I could feel the Lord's gentle rebuke in my heart, and He reminded me what a gift it is for me to have a husband, and these little annoyances were really just signs of his presence in our home. I determined that day to pick his boxer shorts up for him, no matter how often he'd leave them on the floor. I was amazed to find that within a short time, I no longer found them lying around! Apparently, my quiet help moved him to take charge of his dirty underwear.

Yesterday, we enjoyed a joyous reunion when Craig returned from an eleven-day trip to the US. At one point, I tip-toed upstairs with the camera to capture the evidence of his return. What an annoyingly tidy week-and-a-half I've had! I was so pleased to trip over his suitcase that was left in the middle of our bedroom floor. (Oops! I should have been watching where I was going.)

So, what kind of man leaves his suitcases and clothing strewn about the room, causing his wife to lose her footing? I'll tell you that it takes a man who is committed to ministering to the hearts of his wife and children. First, upon his arrival, there was the scramble to distribute all of the special treats he brought back for each of us from the States. Then, he was anxious to hear from all of the children how their time has been since he was away. At dinner, he resumed his normal practice of sharing a passage of Scripture, as well as a passage from a book he's been reading on the subject of grace. Of course, before AND after all of that, he had multiple questions to answer. There was no thought of bedtime, as we had plenty of catching up to do.

Beneath the bathroom sink isn't the ideal place for his boots, but how lovely to see them there! It means he's returned to us safely!

Oops! Are those my Chacos peeking out from under the futon? Heh. Heh.

In my book, toiletries do NOT belong on the bathroom counter, unless stashed in a proper receptacle. But last week, it was pretty boring to only ever see the hand soap.

I won't mind one bit going through these items to put away or send to the laundry pile.

OK. I have to come clean again. I have at least two, possibly three, articles in this bunch.

Thank you, Craig, for all you do for our family -- including, but not limited to:

* Working hard to provide for our needs

* Often delaying your own comfort or gratification in order to bless one of us

* Encouraging me to stay at home with our children

* Delighting in showing generosity to us

* Cheering us on in all we do

* Being a wonderful listener

* Helping us to see the bright side of otherwise seemingly unpleasant situations

* Maintaining your commitment to gently and biblically lead our family

* Loving laughter!

* Showing affection

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Interview With Gifty

The girls and I have recently been privileged to make the acquaintance of a delightfully lovely lady named Gifty. It all began when I bought prom gowns for the girls in South Africa and found that they'd need to be altered. Having no idea where to begin to find this service where we live, I consulted a friend who gave me the number of her favorite seamstress. I had Caelyn make the call and arrange for a fitting, and I didn't realize then what a wonderful meeting it would be!

It turns out that we already know Gifty's children from sports and other activities here, but we didn't make the connection until later. Anyway, this sweet lady confessed after the girls' fitting that she doesn't do alterations. However, she was so impressed by Caelyn's polite phone etiquette, that she "couldn't say no" to helping with the dresses. She even threw in handmade shawls to protect their shoulders from the cool night breeze from the ocean on prom night "as a gift" -- which she later had delivered to our door!

Hearing a few bits and pieces of her story, which she shared with the girls during their fitting, I became intrigued and wanted to know more about this very interesting woman. When we met with Gifty to pick up the dresses, she invited us to see her studio upstairs in her home, where she keeps her inventory of unique fashions and accessories designed from felted wool which she prepares, herself. What a gorgeous variety of items she has stashed away up there! We couldn't stay long, but I asked her if we might possibly return one day to take some photos just so I could share her fun story with my bloggy friends.

On that first visit to see her inventory, we arrived in the early afternoon when the sun was pouring through the large windows and really doing justice to all of the colors of the wool products. Unfortunately, when we returned to take photos, we didn't take into account the time that we had agreed upon. In Maputo, I have yet to enter a home that has really great lighting. So, please bear with these photos. I'm no photographer, and we really needed more light. We still had a marvelous time, however, and I hope you'll enjoy "meeting" Gifty and seeing some of her wares. I've only shared a few photos here, but if you would like to see more, click here.

Gifty is quite camera-shy, but I managed to sneak a couple. In the first photo, she was describing the different kinds of wool that she uses, their origins, and the process by which she transforms the skeins into felt.

Growing up in Ghana, Gifty didn't have many options as far as leisure activities were concerned. She could sew, read, or listen to the radio. At the age of 8, she began using her mother's sewing machine for fun. She was just drawn to it, and admits that even now she can't stand to spend much time away from sewing. On an upcoming family holiday to northern Europe, where her husband is from, she has promised to leave her machine behind in order to ensure having plenty of family time. (Likewise, her children will agree to leave behind any games and electronics that would be a distraction. Good idea!)

We asked Gifty what her first-ever sewing project was. She said that it was a blouse, which she cut free-hand -- as she does every one of her projects -- and when she put it over head, her mother had to cut it off of her! She admits that she can't bear the use of any pattern. Once she gets an idea in her mind for a garment of any sort, she immediately sets to cutting it out.

She says that her ideas are literally fleeting, so she must get to them right away. At times she finds that what she originally envisioned materializes in a completely different way. Particularly with the felted wool items, she is often at the mercy of the fabric and follows what it naturally does within her hands. Because of the nature of the fibers, she has been unable to ever duplicate any of her wool products.

She opened an atelier in the Netherlands while living there with her family several years ago. (Isn't that a great word?) She once owned a shop here in Maputo, as well. There isn't a huge market for wool items here, since "winter" isn't what we know it to be. In the meantime, she has built clientele here for her regular line of unique clothing creations. In fact, she is currently working on a blouse for my friend, Mindy, to wear to her son's upcoming high school graduation. I can hardly wait to see the finished product!

The girls and I were so pleased to learn that Gifty offers workshops for anyone interested in learning to cut free-hand sewing projects, and also for those who'd like to learn wool felting. We hope to take one or both of these classes before she and her family leave for their extended holiday.

From my first glimpse of her extensive collection of unique hats, I knew that I'd want to have a "dress-up" party in her studio!

Her many colorful accessories allow for nearly endless possibilities! I love the scarves!

And oh! The bags! I could use this entire bunch.

This hat was made for Caelyn I think.

Can a hat match dimples? This one certainly does.

I was trying to get Gabriela to act out her thoughts while trying on a fun hat. I'm not sure which thought this is, but she did have fun with it. I chose this pose because it shows the back of the hat. She was more animated in the other photos.

Gifty's friend, Jane, has modeled for her before. She really has a great face and perfect hair for hats. Every one she tried looked absolutely perfect on her. I love this flower and hat combination on her.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with this incredibly talented lady who is appropriately named. She is truly gifted, and very generous. After our dress-up session, we were invited downstairs for dinner, where we had the honor of asking questions and hearing more about her exciting life. Caelyn asked Gifty what advice she would give to an aspiring entrepreneur, to which she replied, "Don't lose your passion. Don't stop dreaming. And practice!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feeding My Hungry Boys

You know those sweet older ladies who love to give advice to young mothers? Well, I've become one of them (although I'm still pretty young -- and don't anyone forget it). Consider yourselves forewarned. Not too long ago, however, I was one of those younger mothers of very small children, receiving all the input. (And I'm really thankful for it, too. Where have those ladies gone? Younger women need them.)

When our first son, Craig Grayson, was born, there were two items of concern that were most frequently passed along to me about having sons:

1. Anything on the face bleeds profusely. (This made me wonder what I was in for; but it was our youngest daughter, Gabriela, who became the poster child for this advice.)

2. When they get older, it is expensive to keep boys fed.

Those ladies were right, and my friend, Cristie, and I have been brainstorming ideas to tackle this foretold plight. We're in Moçambique, so it's not as easy for me to keep up with the appetites of these metabolic anomalies. But in Utopia, I mean the US, it would be much easier. The cost of food in this, the fifth poorest country in the world, is astronomical -- unless we were to live on beans and rice. (Don't get me wrong. "Peasant" food is some of the best in the world, and there's a lot of historic value in it. Even a movie was named after one kind.)

When our nephew lived with us several years ago, he was constantly hungry, as are our boys now. Of course, Chase was older and maintained a rigorous weight-lifting regimen. When he needed a quick snack, he'd open a can of tuna. I've decided that for now, while we struggle to keep our pantry and refrigerator stocked, this will be one of the things that I'll keep on hand for our hungry boys when they come begging for a snack. One can of this tuna is just under $2US.

Today, the girls made tuna salad for lunch, and Caelyn noticed the eco-friendly label. This has escaped our notice until now. How nice it is to know that no dolphins are harmed in the process of providing a decent protein snack for my family.

As I come across good ideas for keeping our boys fed, I hope to share them here. Maybe there's even a reader who's interested in this topic. Please feel free to let me in on any secrets that have helped you in this area. Perhaps you have a hungry husband who can't seem to get enough calories in a day. How do you remedy the situation?

And now for Craig Grayson's anthem:

Hungry Mungry

Hungry Mungry sat at supper,
Took his knife and spoon and fork,
Ate a bowl of mushroom soup, ate a slice of roasted pork,
Ate a dozen stewed tomatoes, twenty-seven deviled eggs,
Fifteen shrimps, nine bakes potatoes,
Thirty-two fried chicken legs,
A shank of lamb, a boiled ham,
Two bowls of grits, some black-eye peas,
Four chocolate shakes, eight angel cakes,
Nine custard pies with Muenster cheese,
Ten pots of tea, and after he,
Had eaten all that he was able,
He poured some broth on the
And ate the kitchen table.

His parents said, "Oh Hungry Mungry, stop these silly jokes."
Mungry opened up his mouth, and "Gulp," he ate his folks.
And then he went and ate his house, all the bricks and wood,
And then he ate up all the people in the neighborhood.
Up came twenty angry policeman shouting, "Stop and cease."
Mungry opened his mouth and "Gulp," he ate the police.
Soldiers came with tanks and guns.
Said Mungry, "They can't harm me."
He just smiled and licked his lips and ate the U.S. Army.

The President sent all his bombers--Mungry still was calm,
Put his head back, gulped the planes, and gobbled up the bomb.
He ate his town and ate the city--ate and ate and ate--
And then he said, "I think I'll eat the whole United States."

And so he ate Chicago first and munched the Water Tower,
And then he chewed on Pittsburgh but he found it rather sour.
He ate New York and Tennessee, and all of Boston town,
Then drank the Mississippi River just to wash it down.
And when he'd eaten every state, each puppy, boy and girl
He wiped his mouth upon his sleeve and went to eat the world.

He ate the Egypt pyramids and every church in Rome,
And all the grass in Africa and all in ice in Nome.
He ate each hill in green Brazil and then to make things worse
He decided for dessert he'd eat the universe.

He started with the moon and stars and soon as he was done
He gulped the clouds, he sipped the wind and gobbled up the sun.
Then sitting there in the cold dark air,
He started to nibble his feet,
Then his legs, then his hips
Then his neck, then his lips
Till he sat there just gnashin' his teeth
'Cause nothin' was nothin' was
Nothin' was nothin' was
Nothin' was left to eat.

-Shel Silverstein

Bits of My Weekend -- In Which I Grew a Little

Caution: Long Post

What. A. Weekend! The children and I joined Mindy and two of her three children on a road trip to South Africa to console ourselves while both husbands have been traveling. Since Mindy had to wait for her oldest son's last final exam, we left later in the day on Friday. I was thinking that this would give me the perfect opportunity to surprise everyone with fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls for the trip, but it was not to be.

Craig Grayson had a rough time with asthma last week. After a scary late-night attack a week ago Sunday, he never felt fully relieved all week. In addition to that, Gabriela was agonizing over a spot on the bottom of her foot that she irritated a few weeks ago in an attempt to remedy the problem herself (without consulting us first, of course). So, off I went to the clinic on Friday morning with both of them, which is not the most comfortable scenario on this continent.

Above, CG is getting his nebulizer treatment, and below, he's having a shot of Prednisone. We have enjoyed over a year of milder symptoms, with very infrequent use of his inhaler, comparatively speaking. This is the main thing that helped me get over my longing to return to Alabama, where his attacks were more frequent and severe.

Bless his heart. He hates needles. I comforted him with a rough estimate of all the needles I've endured in my life, having had five babies, and all of the occasions in between.

What's that? You're not interested in seeing what Gabriela's yucky boo-boo looked like before going to the clinic? I'm very sorry. Moving right along...

Because the doctor initially thought this was a parasite that had deposited an egg sac inside her foot, he didn't want to risk rupturing the sac and causing the eggs to spread. Soooooo, my poor dear had to endure having the insides scraped... are you ready for this?... without local anesthesia. Mm. Hmmm. She's tough as nails.

It was quite a sight to watch the aid literally cut away the callous and dig a hole with a relatively thick needle-like instrument. It turns out that it wasn't a parasite.

After our visit to the clinic, we returned home to pack, loaded the van, ran to the cafe for take-away food, and dropped Rhodes with a friend for the weekend.

Saturday morning, we hit the ground running. I loaded all seven children (most of them are too big to be referred to as such) into our van and headed to our favorite breakfast spot in the mall. Mindy joined us after her hair appointment.

Despite my love of retail, I'm not quite the high-calibre shopper that Mindy is. So, after picking up some coffee beans, grabbing a chocolate shot, and buying a couple of accessories, I was ready to leave the mall. My children wanted to see a movie with their friends, so I bought their theater tickets and left with Gabriela to try to run some errands in town. At this point, frustration began to come in waves.

First, the fabric store was closed and wouldn't re-open before we returned home. (Due to high crime, most establishments have very early trading hours.) Then the pet store was closed, so I couldn't get chewies for Rhodes. The last straw came when I decided to take Gabriela to the botanical garden and have a "girl" lunch at the restaurant there. Denied. From there, we went to the bakery at the grocery to have a very naughty snack. We ate in the van before going to the pharmacy for our H&BA needs. Afterward, we returned to our room at the B&B to kill some time until the big kids' movie ended.

We listened to this:

While playing this:

Gabriela was beating me pretty severely when Mindy called to say that she and the older children were ready to meet us at the restaurant for dinner. We had to wait a little while for it to open, so we walked around for a bit. At one point, as we browsed store windows, I realized that I didn't see Gabriela anywhere. I scanned a few times and did a couple of quick head counts, and she wasn't visible anywhere. I ran back to retrace our steps and still didn't see her. Just as I was notifying the security personnel, the rest of the gang came to tell me that she had been walking in front of them, but she had been hidden from view temporarily by a large display. It took several minutes for my heart rate to return to normal. She had no idea of my panic moment, so I made her cry with all of my relief drama. If I were to lose a child in Africa, my parents would never forgive me, nor could I ever show my face in the Mother Land again.

On a lighter note, Nelspruit is not known for its culinary options, but it was nice to have a new place to try. My expectations weren't very high, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that, in celebration of its first night of business, the restaurant was offering all food from the menu completely free! We only had to pay for drinks. Our family only drinks water most of the time, so the children were tickled when I announced that they could order a special beverage. I didn't want to walk away without owing anything. And, of course, I had a coffee.

After dinner, we headed back to the B&B for showers and more games. And snacks. Too many, in fact. But these chips were worth the splurge:

I know. I'm a hypocrite.

The splurge didn't end there. I had to know how these compare:

By the way, it's almost winter in this part of the world. Since we were in slightly higher elevation than where we live, it was a bit cooler at night. In fact, it was downright cold. Despite my warning that they'd need extra layers, the girls left warm clothes behind. Thankfully, their friends are generous young men, and they offered hoodies to soothe goosebumps.

Have you ever played "Set"? If not, you must.

I had a little retail therapy the next morning and bought a blouse and a jacket. It's so rare that I find something that I like and can afford here, that I just couldn't pass them up. It turns out that I don't really have to miss Anthropologie so much, after all. South Africa has its own version of it, on a smaller scale, with better prices.

Last on our South African agenda was a little grocery shopping, then lunch before hitting the road. Crossing the border this time took much longer than normal. I wish that I could take a photo of that experience, but I'd probably have my camera stolen. Besides, the Moçambican government is strange about photos in official places. We're not even allowed to "hoot" when driving near certain buildings.

Once we were back in Moz, we still had over an hour of driving left. We saw a miracle take place on the way. Just at dusk, a large "highway truck" (as our children call them) lost a tire right in front of us. Mindy was driving behind the truck, and I was following closely behind her. Now, when we lived in Alabama, we used to work out at D1. One of our drills -- and my personal favorite -- was flipping tires. These things are not lightweight. If the truck's tire had not taken a trajectory a degree or so to the left of our path, it could have had a fatal effect. It was sent hurling past us just as we were rounding a slight curve and literally a few meters before a guard rail, which may have caused it to bounce into one of us.

I'm sure that there are many dangers from which God shields us, without our ever knowing it. Yesterday's event was amazing evidence of His divine providence. He is sovereign over every molecule of His creation! It is He of Whom it is written:

"...when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth." Proverbs 9:29


"Who shut up the sea behind doors...

... when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,

when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt'?" Job 38:8, 10-11

If you've read this far, I must say, "Thank you!" What a mighty and awesome God we serve! Praise Him for His faithfulness!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mama's Got Another New Bag

After last week's high-maintenance sewing schedule, I decided to take a slight break and tend to some more pressing issues. May Fair was well worth the hard work and late hours of sewing -- and the invaluable help from my "staff" of offspring -- but it was time to give back a little this week and evaluate some of their school work as we approach the end of our homeschool year. Still, sewing is a part of learning, and I can't bear to sit so near my machine without giving it some attention, too.

As I perused all of last week's finishes from the other Sew & Tell participants, I was very much inspired by Lauren to try yet another bag project. I ended up combining two separate tutorials and adding a bit of flair from one of my newer sewing books, and I'm rather pleased with the end result.

First, following Lauren's link, I began with the instructions here for a reversible bag. Immediately, before even reading through the instructions, I knew that I'd finally want to put this tutorial for an internal zipper into use with this bag. Finally, since I chose a rather bland neutral fabric for the reverse side, I wanted to spice it up just a tad; so in a moment of impulse, I consulted my Zakka Sewing book, as I recalled the cute pear applique from a bag I made a couple of months ago. (Sidebar note for my homeschool veteran friends out there: Did this paragraph not sound like Shurley English?)

I didn't realize at the time that I was stretching the bag out of shape. Sorry. And the morning sun in these parts can be blinding!

The reverse side

I was apprehensive about using a brown zipper, but my style-conscious eighteen-year-old daughter, Caelyn, encouraged me to go with it. I'm in Africa, so I have to use what I have on-hand. I mean, I can get zippers, but not on a whim -- and I definitely made this bag on a whim.

I really expected this to be more difficult than it was. It ended up being a very fun project. I'm hoping to make another one soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this project, but I remembered Lauren's words about having to use the seam ripper at one point when I made a terrible mistake. I became so ambitious about progress that I began to just follow my heart instead of the instructions. So, the seam ripper and I had a little one-on-one time. We're actually rather closely acquainted.

One word of caution if you attempt to follow my rabbit trail in making this bag: I didn't take into account the darts in the original bag tutorial before placing my applique on the lining fabric. I had to improvise, but it worked out fine in the end. My seams are a bit shabby, but this entire project was a first for me. So, I won't allow a detail like that to begrudge me a little pat on the back. I'll know better next time. (See, like I said, sewing is a part of learning.)

This is the bag I made a couple of months ago from Zakka Sewing. It's now in the hands of a friend's friend at the Swedish embassy.