Tuesday, March 22, 2011


"In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

I can still recall the day when Craig received his assignment to his first duty station, and he called to tell me that we'd be moving to Ft. Ord, CA. I was ecstatic! A small-town Pennsylvania girl like me would be moving to California!
When we left Reno, NV on the final morning of our LONG drive there, I insisted on being the one behind the steering wheel on that pivotal moment at which we officially crossed the state line. It was somewhat anticlimactic to still only see mountains and highway for miles and miles, but the scenery was very beautiful.

That was our first move together as a family. To date, we've had fifteen mailing addresses.

Along our nomadic path, Craig seems to have viewed each new location as merely a stepping stone back to our Pennsylvania starting point. I, on the other hand, have viewed all of the transition as "The Adventures of Craig and Dayna", with our children as our supporting cast.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to me, has signified "The End of the Road", and consequently, the end of our grand adventure. After all, there's a whole world out there to explore!

In 2008, when we made our pilgrimage back to Pittsburgh, I was sure that it was The End. However, God had another plan for us, and we found ourselves, ten months later, moving to Maputo, Moçambique. There, we experienced very high highs and rather low lows; but it, too, was a grand adventure. The Lord used that time to bring me to a place of submission to His will, and I no longer felt bitter toward the idea of living in Pittsburgh.

Since returning here last summer, we have been richly blessed with many wonderful memories made with family and friends -- not to mention a LOT of good food!

Recently, however, it became clear to us - despite Craig's efforts to remain here - that God has plans for our family elsewhere. In just a few weeks, we will be packing up and taking our African dog on a new American adventure in the southwest.

We have visited Houston, TX, several times to spend time with extended family there. We've always enjoyed our visits, and briefly entertained the notion of living there a few years ago. The timing wasn't right then, and the door was closed to us for a season.
That door has recently swung wide open, and with joyful hearts, torn over leaving our beloved extended family here, we will march right through!

For the march, I'd love to don these beauties (or at least an affordable knock-off version):

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome, Spring!

Everyone keeps saying that spring is on its way here. I know that it's true, but I haven't been as optimistic as most Pittsburghers. I've seen snow here in April -- it's not just a song.

Just a few weeks ago, we had a "teaser" of what locals refer to as "warm" weather. It did actually get "warm" enough for me to go for a run in a tank top. 

Soon thereafter, however -- and I mean SOON -- we had snow again. When I saw it falling, my hopes for beautiful weather were dashed, and I began to grumble.

I've been reading The Sovereignty of God, by A.W. Pink, and on the day of my grumbling over weather, I picked up my book and began with the paragraph where I had left off:

Truly, then, God governs inanimate matter. Earth and air, fire and water, hail and snow, stormy winds and angry seas, all perform the word of His power and fulfil [sic] His sovereign pleasure. Therefore, when we complain about the weather, we are, in reality, murmuring against God. (emphasis mine)

Immediately I repented of my ingratitude about the snow. I've even started feeling sorry that I haven't allowed Gabriela to play in it more often this winter.

How delighted I was recently to see some sure signs of spring:

We have many large windows in our house and many enormous trees in our yard. While these trees have posed a problem or two, they also afford me opportunities to observe the nesting birds and frolicking squirrels.
Yes, spring is on its way.

"Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
   make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
   he prepares rain for the earth;
   he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
   and to the young ravens that cry.

"He sends out his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
   he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
   who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
   he makes his wind blow and the waters flow."
Psalm 147:7-9, 15-18

Monday, March 14, 2011


Since I was young, I've always loved houses. I loved playing "house" as a little girl. As a lover of all things "Barbie" growing up, I was ecstatic when I got the Dream Cottage for Christmas one year.

I used to pretend that our big old farm-style house had secret passages -- and even had dreams about it!

Having inherited from my mom a love of miniatures, I was delighted to be given a wooden dollhouse handcrafted by one of Daddy's friends. Countless hours were spent in my little make-believe world of high-class living (or as high-class as I could imagine in my small-town world). 

Having had much exposure to 1980s day and nighttime soap operas, most of my dolls had names like "Sue Ellen", "Pam", "John Ross", "Alexis", and "Sammy Jo". I imagined that my doll houses were grand estates filled with elegance and plenty of drama.

For my entire marriage, I've moved my old dollhouse from place to place and stored it in attics and garages from California to Georgia, all along intending to eventually restore it.

Although I've meant for it to go to Caelyn for her future daughter(s), it was Gabriela who recently convinced my dad to begin work to refinish my dollhouse. 

Sadly, he's had great difficulty locating supplies. Apparently, building and playing with doll houses has gone the way of many other "old-fashioned" practices. I guess there just aren't enough little girls being taught to appreciate domestic pursuits, so hobby shops focus more on RC planes and comic books than on classic toys and supplies.

On Saturday, we spent the day with my parents, and Daddy invited me out to his workshop to show me his progress. 
He's been stripping the dollhouse in preparation for the wonderful plans he has in store for renewing it.
I can't wait to see how it looks when he's all finished with it. 

In the meantime, my mom has promised to give this to Gabriela,
which Daddy bought for Mom several years ago, just for fun. Our girls have loved playing with it in the past when we would visit from out-of-state. Now Gabriela will have the privilege of keeping it.

"Blue" is normally rather anti-social, but was kind enough to give me a little attention, and even posed for a few photos.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I was lying in bed one night last week, and these fabrics popped into my head, along with this T-shirt that I had planned to recycle. The next morning I started figuring out how to use these to make a bag.

I got this far and was stumped. How to embellish it? A monogram? But whose? Surely not mine. I don't need this bag. I just need to make it. (Need.) 
"C" for Caelyn? No, she has a fabulous bag that I covet. 
"G" for Gabriela? No, I just made her a bag recently. 
"M" for Morgan? She doesn't carry a purse. 

"B"? It seemed so random, but perhaps it was triggered by this. I walked away and awaited inspiration. As I left the room, I checked my Facebook notifications and saw that a friend had sent a request for a reversible bag for her granddaughter whose name is...

I've had SO much fun playing with the embroidery attachment lately. I found a little butterfly in the machine's pre-programmed stitches, so I fiddled with the "flip-flop" option and made it face two directions. Then I added some little "b" lines to this, as with the bees on a previous bag.

On the back, I just played around with this cute swirly design. 

I must say that T-shirt fabric is treacherous. In fact, when I put the straps together, I was having such a difficult time keeping them lined up that I became discouraged and again walked away from it all. 

Later, it occurred to me that I should make bias tape, which I made from this tutorial (never having done it the right way before).
Kudos to the genius who discovered the wonder of bias tape!

Secretly hoping that Bryce will one day grow up to be a passionate coffee drinker, I'm relying on the power of suggestion to work through this fabric that I chose for the inside pocket.

I didn't always find just what I wanted while living in Moçambique -- which is a gross understatement -- but I was delighted to find this butterfly fabric at a store in Maputo. I thought it would be perfect for the reverse side of this bag, rather than the very cute blue hummingbird fabric in the first photo.

I hope that Bryce will enjoy her bag!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Before I close, I must share the adorable package that came in the mail from a dear neighbor in Alabama:

Dani is such an interesting lady. Born in Italy, she grew up in Switzerland and has taught French, but now lives in Alabama! 
I love "stalking" her Facebook wall to see her correspondence with friends and family who speak various languages.
She has been sewing for years, and each item is such an expression of her artistic gift. 

This cute little bag arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I was so pleased to use it yesterday on our trip to Costco.

The clear plastic "window" pocket that Dani added to the back is perfect for showing my membership card at the entrance. 

This way, I was able to carry my list, coupons, and cards without having a heavy purse slung over my shoulder.

Thanks, Dani!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A New Reversible Bag

I haven't made one of these reversible bags (this, too) since we were in Moçambique. Yesterday I got it in my mind to make one, despite our very busy day. The original tutorial is here, but I like to personalize designs. This fabric came in the mail a few days ago, and I've been anxious to use it.

I thought about asking Morgan to draw a beehive for me to make an appliqué, but rather than reinvent the wheel, I searched online for a pattern and found this. (Where would we be without the cliché?)

While we were in Moz, I had a horrible time with the embroidery attachment on "Clara" (my machine). Last week a revisited the course at the store where I purchased it, & I've come to the conclusion that the problem lay in the Moçambican electrical adapter, rather than user error. 
(Yes, I'm sure that's it.)

Now that I've learned to troubleshoot, I'm having a grand ol' time with embroidery.

I probably should have made this font a bit larger. I feel that it's competing with the bees, rather than complementing them.
The bee lines I just drew with chalk and stitched over them

This yellow floral makes me happy to just look at it! I can't wait for spring, and this bag represents my longing.

The original tutorial doesn't include a pocket, but because I like to have little places to stash things, I use this very helpful and easy tutorial for adding a zipper inside the lining.

While my family and our friends played Settlers of Catan last night, I opted for sewing, instead.
Once I get an idea in my head, I must act on it right away.
They didn't seem to mind a bit, and it was quite entertaining to overhear the competition from the next room.

What a perfect evening: 



Homemade Chili

Dessert: Lemon/Blueberry Bread with Homemade Ginger Ice Cream & Freshly-whipped Cream

Edifying Conversation

A Fun Game

Sewing a new project!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Precious, Fleeting Time

Recently, my dad promised to help Gabriela refinish my old dollhouse, only to discover that most hobby shops have little or no inventory of dollhouse supplies these days.

How sad that many little girls no longer spend countless hours in the land of make-believe, pretending to be the Lady of the House. These days, homes have become mere trophies of what is accomplished away from them, and being a homemaker is considered a lowly pursuit. (No wonder the divorce and incarceration rates are so inflated -- there are few left stoking the fires and nurturing hearts!)

I was delighted yesterday to find Gabriela, pajama-clad, happily playing with the American Girl dolls that used to occupy Caelyn's and Morgan's time. The days are fleeting, and the time will soon come when all of these dolls and accessories will only occupy space until they may bring joy to another generation.

What a contrast this presents to this morning's scene:

On her way to her part-time, apprentice-style job at a nearby bridal shop, Caelyn passed by Gabriela's room and began to briefly reminisce about her own past enjoyment of these dolls.
She went on to recall when someone once warned her that time passes more quickly after the twelfth birthday.

When the children were small and older women advised me to make the most of the time because children grow quickly, it was difficult to imagine a time when my days would no longer be characterized by diapers, car seats, and interrupted sleep. 
How right they were, and I've now become one of those women admonishing others to hold their little ones close and to not grow weary of their requests for attention; for a time will soon come when their attention will be focused elsewhere.

Cherish the season of early motherhood. With all of the responsibility, there is plenty of joy to be had, as well.