Friday, September 21, 2012

Blue & Green Are So Refreshing!

When Caelyn went to work as a nanny for friends of ours in Alaska in the fall of 2010, she met a lot of really interesting people. One such friend was a newly-wed Army wife who attended the same Bible study as Caelyn. Since then, Katie's husband has left the Army, and the two of them have had several changes, including the birth of their first son!

I was honored when Katie accepted my offer to make a nursing cover for her. I asked if she has any particular color preference, and she mentioned that she likes blue and green. That gave me the perfect excuse to buy this beautiful damask that kept nagging at me on every visit to the fabric store recently.

It's been a while since I've inserted a side pocket in one of these covers. I usually add one to the outside. Either way, it's nice to have a place to stash the nursing pad during a feeding.

My "style consultant", Caelyn, agreed that this butterfly fabric (a favorite of mine, purchased in South Africa) added a perfectly bold contrast for the backing.

Nothing too exciting here. Just a "D" ring that's rather hidden in this photo.

To jazz up the solid blue fabric near the bottom, I added a sheer embroidered ribbon that was given to me years ago by a seamstress friend of my mom's. Sadly, Joy passed away about a decade ago, which makes the sewing items that she shared with me even more dear.

Close-up view of the pocket.
I am so excited about giving this nursing cover to Katie! She and Aaron are so thankful for their little guy! We rejoice with them over the precious gift the Lord has given them.

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
    children a reward from him. 
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them."
Psalm 127:3-5

Table & Chair Rescue

I need to decide what to do with the bird puzzle in the background. We finished it earlier this summer and glued it together. I'd like to make it into a tray or something.

When we lived in Moçambique, I would see vendors - ordinary citizens wishing to make a living - setting up their wares along the road daily. I saw men carrying their fresh catch of the day, and once I saw a father and son selling their freshly-slaughtered chicken at a table outside their home. It made me realize how much red tape we have in America - I mean, we can't even paint someone's finger nails without a license!

With our infatuation with credentials, it's refreshing to find those who still just dive right in and use their skills. One can't argue with results, and Miss Mustard Seed provides oodles for inspiration for those who have the desire yet lack the particular degree. When you click her link, be SURE to read her sidebar note, "Move Mountains in Your Home". Her "credentials" are represented in her actual work. Had she waited for someone else's validation, we might not have her vast array of talent to inspire us.

I'm thinking that I must add Miss Mustard Seed to my "Dream Kibbutz" list. I really could have benefited from having her by my side as I entered into these two projects.

A while back, I started recycling a bunch of old Potterybarn items that I've had lying around for years. I've been slowly chipping away at an old duvet cover for use in several projects.

Here's the best photo I could find of the duvet cover from several years (and four addresses) ago.

(A tiny glimpse of one of the pillows I made from it can be seen here, in the background.)

After updating this chair recently, I was inspired to rescue its injured twin from the garage. In our last move, it lost one of the back slats. I tried and tried to locate the handy tutorial that MMS used to cover a chair back, but I couldn't. So, I did my best to figure it out on my own.

I just love making messes in my sewing room!

Here it is almost finished. I had to scavenge through all of my stashes to find more of the cording I used on the seat. Sometimes, hoarding pays. And I don't regret cutting up that duvet cover one bit.

Once the chair was done, I was ready to tackle the card table slipcover. I bought this card table with two chairs (future project?) at Target several years ago. It has been a school table in my boys' room, a model-plane & -truck table, a scrapbooking table, a puzzle-building table, and most recently, an extra chess table for my son's group that will meet here monthly.

In the meantime, I wanted an extra surface for those rare moments when I actually spend time in my bedroom doing "stuff" that requires a flat surface. You might call it a desk.

Although it bears a striking resemblance to a giant roll of toilet paper, I thought of a solution for managing what seemed like miles of pleat fabric. As my mom would say, I thought it was rather "slick":

I'm a firm believer that cute daughters make better displays. Add a cute puppy, and BINGO!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Number Two

As of last Friday, I hadn't yet made the second apron for my friend, Lisa, and could only post the first one. She told me to just make it up and do whatever I want, and I did! I was all over the map with the fabrics. It was a blast!

I decided to add a lining to this one. I just love the recipe fabric.

Maybe this can be Lisa's breakfast apron. I think it would certainly wake anyone up!

I'm adding this to Amy's Sew & Tell for this week. I just love seeing all of the marvelous projects that she and her friends share. Check it out!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Apron Love

It's shameful how far behind I am on blogging, among other things; but at least I'm making progress with our home school.
For now, that's paramount.
I've also managed to squeeze in a little sewing lately, after our whirlwind summer.

Last week I was a bit bummed that Amy didn't do a Sew & Tell (because I was ready for once), but I was tickled to find that she posted one for this week. 
She deserves a LOT of grace, though. She's been such a wonderful leader of her sewing followers for a few years, and I admire her greatly! Plus, she's a military wife with three small children.
(Been there.)
Need I say more?

A friend from my hometown - whom I haven't seen in YEARS, but who found me on Facebook a while back - asked me to make a couple of aprons for her.
Fortunately, she is a very patient and gracious friend, who hasn't yet shown any perturbation at how long it's taking me to finish.

This week, I finished Lisa's first apron:

I used this apron as a basic guide, but changed some details.

I love my family for so many reasons, one of which is the way they cheer me on. When I brought the finished product downstairs to show everyone, they showered me with affirmation.
The girls were even a bit disappointed to learn that this isn't for one of us.

As pleased as I am with the outcome, and as much as I love the fabric, it feels so good to know that someone else will enjoy wearing this in the kitchen.

Now it's time to get upstairs and start putting together #2.

Hop on over to Amy's Sew & Tell to feast your eyes on all of the fabulous creations there!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Squeezing in a Few

We started school recently after being out of town for a week, so I haven't had much time for blogging. It's a pity, too, because there's plenty to tell -  especially about the dogs, but also about life in general, house guests, and what we've been doing with waffles.

I have quite a sewing task list, and I can't wait to get to it! Most of it is pretty easy stuff that just requires staying in my sewing room long enough to make it happen. Before digging into what is really necessary, I felt that I needed to get myself geared up to start checking off my list. 
(Remember the "Round, round, ready, write!" warm-up from elementary cursive class? It's sort of like that.)

Pictured above is a little gift set I threw together for my dear cousin in Pennsylvania. She recently spent her 60th birthday in the hospital after having a second brain tumor surgery. This little gift seems rather lame in light of that, but she liked it, and I loved making something for her. 
(She's one of those hard-to-buy-for people. You know, the ones who have everything already.)

I actually forgot to take photos of her gifts before mailing them, so she sent me a photo from her phone. Anyway, the long rectangular solid is a rice-filled heating pad. I bought that adorable Paris fabric at Hobby Lobby a couple of months ago, and my mom mentioned that Dee would love to have something made with it. She took a trip to Paris last year, and recently she bought a French Bull Dog and named her Paris.

I couldn't resist using the black Eiffel Tower fabric for a coordinating lavender-scented eye mask. It's a small gift, but I assure you that it was made with love, fervent prayer, and a longing to be by Dee's side through this harrowing time.

On a much, much lighter note, while doing some necessary cleaning/organizing, I unearthed a coffee stamp that I've had for a number of years. I have a vague memory of making either invitations or place cards for an Army wives' get-together (which we called a "coffee") at our house in Ft. Benning, GA, back in 2001. It hasn't been used since then.

As soon as I looked at that stamp, I knew what I wanted to do. 

I had some leftover burlap from our favorite coffee shop in Maputo, Moçambique. All that was needed was a fabric ink pad.
 I've wanted to make a mug rug for my friend, Terri, but these burlap coffee-stamped coasters seemed more fitting for her style.
I love them, and so does she!

Once I had finished the burlap set for Terri, I just had to keep going. I wanted to try a different fabric and make a set without frayed edges. The fabric below is leftover from Craig's Africa wallhanging.

The backing is leftover from a messenger bag.

All of this coaster-making is becoming addictive and has my creative juices flowing. Inspired by a travel cup I bought recently at the science center - and being a nerdy homeschool mom - I dusted off my hand embroidery supplies and transferred the molecular structure of caffeine onto some squares for another set:

I think this is my favorite set.

I'm posting this in hopes that Amy will do a Sew & Tell this weekend for August. If not, that's OK. At least I will have mustered up a blog post! I have a lot of catching up to do.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cutest Little Mama Lately

We bade farewell to our precious guests this morning after nine wonderful days of their sweet fellowship. Kait is a lovely picture of godly womanhood, striving to honor the Lord and love her husband, Zach, and her son, Bruce (and any other "arrows" the Lord sends to fill their quiver).

It is truly a blessing to have friends who not only offer pleasant company, but whose counsel and encouragement are motivated by a desire to please God and spur His people on toward obedience to the Scriptures. I love that Kait and Zach speak the Truth of God's Word into our lives and serve as an example of faithfulness for our children to emulate.

My heart was filled with joy as I observed the patient, wise, and loving way in which the two of them operated in one accord to meet the needs of their baby boy. For such a young woman, Kait very graciously welcomes Zach's input in tending to Bruce's well-being, and they are doing a fabulous job handling his daily routine!

During the visit, Kait mentioned that her nursing "bib" (as I call them) was too short, and that she'd like to have one with a bit more flair. She has such an eye for color, which I observed on a shopping trip with her to the fabric store. She ended up "shopping" from my stash at home, instead, and I just love how she boldly stepped outside the box with these patterns and colors!

Kait was interested in this fabric, which I had used in this nursing cover, this bag, and this bag. Sadly, I didn't have enough to allow it to stand alone. In the end, that proved a matter of serendipity. I love, love, LOVE the solution we came up with! 

After perusing my stash, she quickly amassed a lovely sampling of Amy Butler fare, and we were off! In trying to figure out a way to use ALL of the fabrics she chose without making everything clash entirely, I thought it would be fun to use a scrappy strip method from a couple of bags that I made a while back. (And here's the other one.)

The ruffle/pocket/strap fabric is leftover from the toddler backpack I recently made for an adorable little girl in California, and the backing fabric is from the spring bag I made for myself.

Yesterday was a busy day for us, and I couldn't wait to get back to sewing this cover. I managed to finish it last night around midnight, while Craig, Kait, Zach, the children, and a visiting friend played Bananagrams next to where I was sewing. That's one of my favorite games, so my attention was definitely divided; but I was a woman on a mission. I only regret that I didn't get a video of the little hopping-dance action from Kait when she held the cover in her hands for the first time, role-playing the admiring friends who will most likely covet her nursing bib and demand one just like it.

There's nothing like little tiny baby feet hanging out of a nursing "bib".

We will miss having this sweet family around. It makes me look forward to Heaven, where we won't have to be concerned with details like mileage or airline fees, and we'll be together, worshiping the King around His throne forever! Until then, we have Skype, Facebook, and occasional visits.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Car Wash & Dog Leashes

Sometimes I feel like this video describes my vehicle:

But instead of sing-along CDs, soda, and soccer balls, I find water bottles, DVDs, and extra clothing throughout. 

The beauty of having children old enough to drive is that, since they are the chief source of dirt and clutter in my Suburban, they can also be the ones to clean it.

No matter how old they get, however, it is still a great temptation for a boy to squeeze the soapy sponge over his sister's head.

Morgan is a good sport. Graham isn't walking with a limp.

I am particularly thankful for Caelyn's self-control, since Graham tried to use me as a human shield from the hose. I quickly went back inside, where I was working on a couple of fun projects.

While the children were washing the truck, our friends, Zach and Kait, who are visiting from Pittsburgh, were inside speaking my love language. I'm so spoiled by friends who will accomplish tasks that I'd rather not do myself.

A few days ago, Kait, Gabriela, and I paid a visit to Home Goods. 
(Honk if you love that store!) 
As I passed the clearance shelf of the pet-supplies section, something jumped up and grabbed me. Not really. But it should have. Since it didn't, I grabbed it, instead. Here it is:

I could NOT resist this sign! Could you? I mean, if you had a dog. Or two.

Kait is one of those creative Pinterest types, just overflowing with great ideas. She suggested that I find a spot to hang this sign with hooks for the dogs' leashes and collars.
I remembered recently coming across a set of bumblebee hooks from a few houses ago.

I think that we lived in Georgia when I bought these hooks. I can't remember where I found them. Potterybarn? Restoration Hardware? Neither of these? Eh. Doesn't matter. I'm glad that they were unearthed after our move.

Last week, we had the honor of briefly hosting a dear friend from Alabama and two of her daughters. One of them is a photographer, and she offered to take some candid shots of our family. (Coming soon.) Anyway, she snapped a few photos of Rhodes & Menina, so I duplicated one, changed it to black-and-white, printed and framed it, and added it to this wall grouping.

I robbed Peter to pay Paul, as they say, with this frame. We're running low on black frames, so Gabriela remembered some Potterybarn starfish prints that are no longer being used in the girls' bathroom. Eureka! It's a good thing, too, because I had my eye on the frame that holds the photo of my grandfather in his Army uniform. (*Gasp!* Don't worry, Mom. I would have replaced it right away.)

Project Number Two should be posted soon. I'll give you a hint: Kait will have better coverage when nursing her sweet son, Bruce, in public.
And Kait has quite a knack for pairing fabrics and colors!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Zakka Basket

It's been quite a while since I've used this book. It was one of very few purchases I made while living in Africa. Everything costs much more there, unless it's locally made. On that day, I bought two sewing books and a set of bookmarks, and spent around $100. Ouch! But it was worth it. And I was desperate for some retail therapy at the time.

Yesterday, I was looking around my house for a basket to hold some extra wash cloths. (I recently bought more towels. I have a "thing" against using the same towels for too long.) Anyway, I didn't have quite the right basket that would look nice next to that big chunky one in the background above, which holds the towels. Being one who prefers instant gratification, rather than driving to TJ Maxx, I headed to my sewing room.

Shortly thereafter, I returned with this basket in hand. I used leftover fabric from Craig's wallhanging. The dimensions in the book were much too small, so I just branched out on my own and started cutting.

The instructions suggested using red thread for the decorative stitching, but I chose this refreshing blue to match some of the accents in our bathroom.

I've had this lining fabric for a couple of years, but I hadn't found a way to use it before now.

Little things really can make a big difference. I'm so glad that I acted on impulse.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Must Share!

I saw this on Sew Many Ways over the weekend, and I just had to share it. She borrowed it from a friend to share with her readers. I think it's precious and would love to have it framed for my sewing room. Of course, I have helpers to take care of the dishes, and no one in our house is allowed to even leave his/her room without making the bed. (This does slip at times, however.)

The author gives wise advice about keeping oneself neat in case of unexpected guests; and I'm a firm believer that my husband is even more worthy of seeing me at my best than a stranger. There are days when he arrives home to find me in workout clothes or a T-shirt and shorts, with my hair in a ponytail & no make-up. I try not to make this a daily habit, though. I aim to set a decent example for my girls (and for my boys, who will look for wives one day). Lipstick, I admit, is reserved for outings only, and I have never donned a dress for sewing (although I think it's a fun, girly idea).

I've been working on little details around the house, now that our track schedule has slowed down just a tiny bit. The wall hanging that I made for Craig as an anniversary gift is finally hanging above our mantle:

I was trying to think of a way to display some Bible verses that will serve as daily reminders to our family, and I remembered this photo frame that the children gave to me last year. I still hadn't printed any photos for it, so I dug into my scrapbook paper stash and printed the verses for framing.

This week I hope to do more organizing. I'm dreading the attic, but it's a necessary item on my growing to-do list. I must admit that I rather like always having something to check off. Of course, there are several sewing projects in my near future, and I'm late getting my plans in order for the upcoming homeschool year. 

I've been toying with the idea of making slipcovers for the sofas. If that happens, I'll definitely employ the help of my girls. I have no idea what I'm doing, so a little research will be in order. I heard from a friend that a local boutique is offering a class, or I may use this source. Even if it doesn't happen until 2013 - or never - it's a fun thought.

Friday, June 29, 2012


It's hard to tell in this photo, but I made the straps a little wider at the top, because I don't like the way thinner straps feel on my shoulder.

That's what I'm calling this bag: "Papillon" (pronounced "pah-pee-yon"). It's just what came to mind.

My inspiration to work in the sewing room is peaking, and I've enjoyed some hours of creativity over the past week. I finished a couple of fun projects and updated my to-sew list. 

I've been wanting a new tote to carry my Bible. I have a fabulous big red "pleather" tote that is perfect for Sunday morning, but it is heavy! Yesterday afternoon, I was inspired to finally make one, so I struck while the iron was hot, as they say. 

Amy Butler is one of my favorite designers. I made use of a few of her prints that I bought recently for this project, and just made up the details of the bag as I went along. The only thing I had planned beforehand was using the butterfly fabric that I bought in Moçambique. (SO glad that I picked up a couple of extra meters of it before we moved back to the States.)

I just love these Bic pens. They are the best!! I tend to be old-fashioned, and new-fangled pens just don't perform as well or as long as these (unless, of course, one shops at Mont Blanc, in which case it wouldn't be called a pen).

On the opposite side, I installed a zipper pocket for those items that it would be a travesty to have slip out of the bag. I almost forgot to add the magnetic snap. In fact, I did forget, so I quickly reopened the seam on the lining & installed one.

I've just been itching to put a key fob into one of my bags. With so many drivers in our house, there's no guarantee that my keys will always end up where I like to keep them. Now, at least in the case of this bag, no rummaging will be required.

I'm sure that my mom will be asking for one of these, so I'm already thinking of how the next one will look. It was a very fun bag to make. I've found that, in keeping with my personality, I enjoy the process more when I'm not poring over pattern instructions. (Not that I don't really love & highly recommend some of the patterns I've used in the past...)

Hop on over to see the lovely creations posted at Amy's Sew & Tell!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lots of Random Stuff

I love this photo that Gabriela took while on a walk with Caelyn and Menina.

Our days have been quite full recently, and I'm just now taking a breather. Today was wonderfully leisurely. Two of the children had to work, so the rest of us played a game, watched National Geographic videos online, and found my dream car. And laughed. That's an integral part of our family time.

Over the past week, we've covered quite a bit of ground. The younger four children had track qualifiers for four straight days, starting last Thursday. I was already exhausted by Friday night, but the Lord sustained all of us through the extreme heat, fast pace, and long hours. I owe much gratitude to my sweet girls for helping me to come up with quick, easy, and nutritious menu ideas for the meets. Congratulations are in order for Morgan, who will move on to the next level in the high jump.

On our way home from Friday's meet, some of us headed to a nearby farmer's market and scored these delectable cherries for a very good deal, among other wonderful things.

Here, Craig & the boys are replaying a video of a race.

Happily, I did finish a project last week before the mad rush began. The family next door has four adorable daughters. The oldest two are twins who just graduated from high school. I thought that they should have coordinating laundry bags to carry with them when they head off to college in the fall. I haven't made one of these since Caelyn left for Alaska a couple of years ago. I had a bit of fun with the details of these.

Mary & Rebecca were quite pleased with their bags, which just blessed my heart!

The children enjoy going to the lake (pond?) in our neighborhood, in search of alligators. They don't pursue them; they just like to see if any can be spotted. The boys researched alligator-hunting laws & requirements, and it seems like a relatively easy process. Gabriela took this photo of Craig Grayson as they walked:

As soon as I get up in the morning, I open the blinds. Morning is such a peaceful and inspiring time of the day. I regret that I don't rise as early these days as I used to, but the low sun does beckon me. One look at a beautiful morning motivates me not to skip my run. 

On Sunday morning, as soon as I opened the first blind, this little visitor was the first to greet me:

When I was a child, I was terrified of dragonflies. As an adult, I find them majestic.

One of our air conditioning units is in need of repair. Last night, as Craig walked around the back of our house to check on the unit, he came across a strange-looking insect on the patio, that appeared to have been injured. (By him, perhaps?) A bit of manipulation revealed that they were, in fact, TWO Walking Sticks. We haven't been able to determine exactly why, but the smaller of the two was actually inside the larger one, and our nephew, Antoine, pulled it out. As far as my cursory research can tell, Walking Sticks reproduce by laying eggs. Not all require mating, but even among those that do mate, the process doesn't seem like what we witnessed here.

These are the 2nd & 3rd Walking Sticks that we've found on our patio recently. The first one was already dead, so we added it to our insect display. These two were on their way toward death, so they'll likely end up there, as well.

On a different note, I don't spend much time on Pinterest, but I appreciate when something wonderful makes it worthwhile. I am so inspired by the creative genius of the author of this blog. She has motivated me to rediscover my penchant for organization. I seem to have abandoned it in recent years (along with my disciplined schedule). This post has spawned a growing to-do list that I hope to accomplish before it's time to start our new homeschool year, and it extends far beyond the sewing room. 

Typically, when I start a project, one thing naturally leads to another. On Monday, a couple of hours spent organizing my closet left me wanting a stool in front of my closet mirror. I couldn't take the stool from my bathroom vanity without having a replacement, so my mental wheels started turning.

I remembered the pair of chairs that I bought at an antique store in California when we were first married. One is need of repair, and both have needed new fabric to replace what I used to cover the seats several years ago. The intact chair was brought into my sewing room recently as a reminder to choose fabric for it.

I had fabric leftover from the duvet cover I made for Gabriela's room. A touch of cording, the staple gun, and a few mix-matched upholstery tacks brought the whole thing together. 

I can't wait to fix the other chair. Any suggestions on how best to replace a missing slat on the back? I saved it when it came off, but after our last two moves, its whereabouts remain a mystery.