6/1/10 - 7/1/10

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New Modern Skirt Designed by Rebekah...plus videos!


Rebekah and I had a special and unusually girly weekend not two weeks ago! We spent the weekend square dancing in Galveston as you probably know by now.


Last time, I showed you pictures and a demo of the teenagers in the zebra striped lime green ruffled dresses but I mentioned that Rebekah had designed her own 'modern' style square dance dress. Here it is!

The owner of a square dance dressmaking company is discussing her construction of the pleated circle skirt. It's not an easy thing to make!

He also gave her some information about a possible internship with a fashion design place in Houston. She loves to design skirts in particular and we thought this might be an interesting thing to look into.

 Here's a video of a line dance with Rebekah in her new skirt. I thought it looked lovely! Who would have ever thought a circle skirt could look so modern?

   I designed this trumpet skirt myself. I've found that I had a little trouble with it hanging right and staying snug around my waist. But I think it turned out pretty good anyway.

And of course I made this skirt up as well.. I had trouble with it too. The fabric was too light and I really need to add a ruffle to the bottom to give it some weight.  Personally, I think a circle skirt needs a waistband unless you have a good belt. I just bought one for this dress. It's especially designed for square dance skirts.

Have you ever tried to design your own skirt? Did you have any trouble with it?


Ten Projects in Ten Days...Halfway Point Progress Report

You know, I've been so busy with the grandbabies that I haven't had much time to work on my list! Yipes!!

It's always that way with me... I make a list of 10 things I'm going to do and then I do 10 other things that really needed to be done just as much..instead! Do you ever have that problem?

I don't mind as long as I'm not PROCRASTINATING! That's the kink. It's easy to ignore the list of 'should do's" and do the "want to's" instead. :o)

Six Things I worked on  that were ON the list!
  • Arrange a whole week off to sew couch cushion covers while ALL children are gone. Date: July 4-10 (well..it IS progress!)
  • Got budget done and bills paid.
  • Lost 2.5 pounds!! Stuck to diet over weekend of travel to Dallas. :o)
  • Downloaded some material from the internet for son to study for driver's test next week.
  • Borrowed Mom's sewing machine so I can sew ruffles and cushions. (Got it from Denton.)
  • Pulled box out of storage so I can ship Dad's mementos to family.
Like all my projects, I have to work on them in bits and pieces, especially when our week is as busy as last week was.  This week, I will have lots more time to do my list.  I won't get the cushions done since I've made arrangements to do them on the 4th through the 10th. But at least now I have a good opportunity to work on them. 

Ten Things I Did This Week that were NOT on the list:

  •  Attended graduation party near Dallas and visited Fort Worth Stockyards with the kids' friends (per their request).
  • Pulled Photos together and emailed to Jeff Yeager for his  interview on the Today show--We're going to be on TV!! ( via the photos..not in person:o) They will be showing pictures of the families who were featured in his new book, The Cheapskate Next Door. Our copy is in the mail, he said. :o
  •  Made colored glycerin soaps in molds of turtles and bugs with the grandkids
  • Took Amanda, daughter-in-law to Antique Shops (each child had a 'guardian') :o)

  • Cleaned the house and arranged beautifully. Posted photos for friend who will be giving me an interior decorating consultation tomorrow!! Yippee!!

  • Danced at our Just for Fun dance (with our teenage club in Tomball, the Grand Squares) to help kick off our new summer lessons. So fun!!
  • Got website updated and revised per Brent Rigg's advice after having a blog critique.
  •  Took Grandkids to feed the ducks, hear a band, watch a puppet show, and buy a 'safe' slushie at Sonic.
  • Started a batch of Combucha Mushroom tea.Bought new clothes from the thrift store..since old ones were too big. Hurrah!
  • Helped get 15 yr. old on healthy diet to try to alleviate his seasonal allergies. I'm so proud that he is sticking with it!
So how about you? Are you working on some long overdue projects this summer? What would you most like to get done this next week, that you've been putting off?

Happy Homemaking!

Preparing for the Most Important Jobs of our Lives....

Rebekah and I will be having tea again this morning...and I know exactly what we will be talking about. The topic doesn't come from any book..it's just been on my heart this morning. As I was having devotions, I was thinking about a song I wrote last year that I sang for my sweet daughter-in-law last week. It's called, "The Heart of A Servant".    It's about one of the most important jobs in the world..one that almost EVERYONE...man or woman ends up doing and yet this job it is one of the least appreciated and poorly prepared for jobs in the world...that of being a parent.

Near the End of the Parenting Journey

We are rapidly nearing  the end of the most intensive part of our parenting journey. Our little chicks have been leaving the nest one by one and of course, like all parents, we are anxious that their first flight be a successful one.  I find myself worrying--"Have I prepared them adequately? I know my husband's thoughts are consumed with the same concerns.  We quit worrying, long ago, about our own personal dreams and aspirations. We have a whole lifetime ahead of us for doing that. But our children need us now. The opportune moment for preparation is TODAY.

We are talking about things like college, ministry, character building and future relationships. Our natural instincts with our oldest children are to find the best college or the best opportunity for developing our children's natural gifts and talents with an eye to future occupations.  And of course, we think often about how we and they are going to pay for all of this preparation. Possible scholarships, financial aid, SAT scores,  jobs...are all part of our decision making process.

Do We Have The Right Focus?
But this morning as I was thinking about the song the Lord gave me about being a servant as we love and train our little ones and reading Colossians 3: 17-25, I began to be concerned that we might be focused on the wrong thing altogether!

Our Real Job
For those of us who are Christians, our real 'job' in life..is to become more like Christ...to love Him more...to serve Him with all our heart..and to love our neighbor (and our family) as Christ as loved us.  Our lives, regardless of what job or occupation we might spend our days pursuing, will ultimately become very daily...and that daily focus must be to grow in Him. Relationships are God's best training ground for developing character in our lives.

With that in mind, I realized that the job of being a good husband or wife and a good parent, jobs that fall to 90% of us regardless of how we earn a living...must be prepared for!  And if we don't do that preparation before our young adults leave for college, we may never get the chance.

What is most important: Family or Career?
Whether you are a doctor, teacher, engineer, lawyer, or computer tech, you will also most likely end up with a job for which you will be far more concerned about your performance than in your career--..that of being a good  wife or husband, mom or dad.  Yes, we must prepared for the jobs that provide food for the table and I know the Lord wants us to pursue those things he has gifted us with and uniquely designed us for. But
the most important thing we must do well at is living our lives 
in the Love of Christ. Loving those he has given us to care for.

The Lord has amazing ways of making the finances 'work out', especially for families who put their trust in the Lord and who put their calling of living godly lives ahead of their desire to have a great career.

Visiting An Amazing Family...
We spent such a special and enjoyable day with a family who, like ourselves, have done exactly that. The stories of our ups and downs with cars and the other mundane joys of making ends meet were so similar that I laughed out loud.  Honestly, I felt so humbled in talking with the mother because she just exudes the Lord's peace and wisdom. I felt that I had so much to learn about the ways of the Lord after talking with her. It wasn't what she said or didn't say..it was just her whole countenance and manners and spirit. But I have not suffered like she has...three whole years of simply waiting on God to restore her health while she lay on the brink of death.  I've never known a single woman alive who has had to go through a trial like that..nor such a sweet family who carried her through it with such grace.  You cannot help but be changed and affected..and she and her family have been.

Both our families, like so many other home school families, are grappling with the question of how to best help spring our children from the family nest so that they have the best possible future. As we talked, though, of our lives and our journeys...it was really a story of how we each learned to love our husbands and our children and be good parents.

Careers and ministry dreams eventually took a back seat to the most important job of our lives...loving those God has put in our care the way He would love them and teaching them how to do the same thing.

Do Not Worry About the Future!
So though I am anxious for Rebekah's college pursuits and the possibilities on the horizon as we look into fashion design or how to clep courses for credit, and Jacob's SAT scores and 'can we get a scholarship at our nearest university' for his pursuit of a Criminal Justice degree,  I remember what the Lord says in

Matthew 6: 31-34
Do not worry and be anxious, saying, "What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles wish for, crave, and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all.

But seek (aim at and strive after)first of all His kingdom and His righteousness and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.  So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.
Our Lives Should Be Stories of God's Amazing Grace and Provision
The stories our families shared yesterday were a memory book full of miracles of God's provision in the most difficult of circumstances. We all planned our careers and pursuits..but none really turned out the way we had quite planned. And still...we have grown in the Lord...we love our children and each other and more importantly...our children love the Lord and each other.  Like so many Christian homes chool families, we have very little of this world's goods to show for our 20+ years of marriage and career pursuits...but we have served the Lord with our whole heart and laid down our lives for our families. 

How I Will Prepare My Children for the Future
So I will do my best not to worry about my children's futures while making every diligent effort to help them pursue their goals, but while we are doing that...I'm going to do all I can to help them focus on the Lord and becoming more like Him...and how to be the best wife, husband, father, or mother they can be--the best school I know of for developing Christ-like character.

Because careers come and go and change, I will try to help them realize that success there, while very important, is not the most important thing.
With all our best efforts, careers and jobs can fail...but if we fail to love and serve our families there is nothing that will console us.  

As we learn to love our spouses and children and to meet their needs, we become more like Christ and more fit for the kingdom of heaven. 

May we always keep an eternal perspective as we guide our children towards their future pursuits and lifelong happiness.


Decorating Grandma's Sugar Cookies..with recipe

You know...you just can't go to Grandma's and NOT make cookies although I was afraid we wouldn't quite make it that far with all the other things we did this week.

Is this play dough Grandma??

I think we need a little help!

Push real hard Brenan!

Colin, You're doing so good!!

Colin and Brenan had a great time rolling out, cutting, baking and decorating their sugar cookies.

The best part was putting chocolate chips all over the cookies.  I accidentally left the bag in front of Brenan for a minute. He had quite a few in his mouth when I got back to him. I must say they had a an even funner time eating them!

  Of course, their mommy had the thrilling task of cleaning up the boys...while I played with the baby...Tee!Hee!

Here's the recipe we used. We made one change. We substituted 1 tsp. cream of tarter and 1/2 baking soda for each teaspoon of baking powder called for because Brenan is allergic to corn starch. Frankly, my kids didn't care for the taste...but for the little guys...it was no problem. (I tasted a teeny bit of dough..by accident--Really! And it tasted fine to me. :o)

Grandma's Rolled Sugar Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
6 T. butter or margarine
1/3 c. shortening
3/4 c. shortening
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 T.Milk
1 t. vanilla

(Decorations are up to you. :o)

  • Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 t. salt.
  • Beat butter and shortening for 30 seconds; add sugar and beat till fluffy. 
  • Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well.
  • Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating till well combined.
  • Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (We put our dough in a gallon zip bag, flattened it, and stuck it in the freezer. We took it out 30 minutes later and it worked just fine!)
  • Working with 1/2 of the dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface roll to 1/8" thickness. (Ours was more like 1/4"..easier for little hands to pull off the extra dough and pick up to put on the cookie sheet.
  • Cut into desired shapes.  Add decorations as desired.
  • Place on an ungreased cookies sheet.
  • Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 minutes or till done.
 Happy Homemaking!


Tutorial: How to Make a Gorgeous Apron...(Pattern Included)

Last Fall, I found a pattern for a gorgeous 'cottage style' apron. I downloaded the patter from Bettter Homes and Garden's website.  I thought you might like to see the matching aprons that I made for Shona Cole and her daughters. I was her secret sister last year. You can visit her at An Artful Life

I have to say that I had such a hard time making it, that I thought I might better give you some pictures to help. It is darling and after I finished it, I realized how easy it was.   But the instructions were extremely confusing. So I've taken some pictures of my progress through this pattern for those of you to see in case you would like to try this. Hopefully, it will help you. 

Have fun with this, but don't forget to put your pattern piece on the fold!! I didn't read the fine print and ended up cutting out a half-size apron.  Click on the link for a downloadable pattern and instructions.  I have numbered my pictures to go with their instructions.  

To get started, pick some coordinating fabrics, download the pattern and instructions and cut them out. Shona loves these colors and wanted 'ecletic' print. A quilt store was the only option for this gorgeous fabric!

Next cut out the strips for ruffles, ties, and piping.  A rotary cutter makes this step a lot easier!

Step 2 Make the piping.  (They called it piping but it was so wide that I don't know why!)   Sew it to the lower edge of skirt.   (Right sides together.


    Step 3 Make the ruffle and hem it.  

Step 4: Then attach the ruffle to the lower edge of the apron skirt. Lay it on top of the 'piping'.   But it does make a nice accent. On some of the skirts I rolled up the wide strip after it was sewn on  and hand stitched it down, so that it was half as wide as was called for.

This is the front view after you sew the piping and ruffle on the lower edge of the skirt.

Now it's time to make the ties and waistband

1. Hem the two ties.

2. Make the points and sew in place.  

3. Fold a small pleat so the unhemmed edge is only 1 1/4" wide which is how wide it needs to be to match the waist band.  Set it aside while you work on the waistband.

4. Now take the waist band strip that you cut out earlier and fold it in half lengthwise and iron it. Then measure about 1/2" in and fold one edge into the center of the folded waist band and iron again. On one side it will look like bias tape.

5. Now open it out again and lay one edge of the waist band right sides together with the skirt (upper edge) and sew together 

Note: (I added another piping strip between the waistband layer and the skirt before this step because I thought it would look pretty, but that is optional and not part of the instructions. I'm sorry I don't have a good picture of doing this step.)

 5.Lay the unfinished end of one tie  right  sides together against the one side of the waistband and stitch in place. Do the same for the other side. Now open out the waistband and tuck the raw edges inside the waistband.

Fold over about a 1/4" on each end of the waist band so that it has a nice finished edge. Then hand stitch both ends in place. Slip stitch the inside ironed edge of the waist band over the sewn seam allowances to hide the raw edges.

1. Make piping for pocket.  (See photo above for piping)

2. Hem sides and lower edge of pocket ruffle.  (Same as for skirt ruffle)

3. Gather upper edge of pocket ruffle.  (Same as for ruffle above.)

4. Iron interfacing to lower edge of upper pocket piece to reinforce it.  It's very big because it will be folded over almost in half to make a very strong upper edge of the pocket.

5. Lay piping and pocket ruffle on upper edge of lower pocket and stitch in place, then lay the upper pocket piece on top of that and stitch it in place. 

6. Now fold the upper pocket in half over the front of the pocket and then fold back a 1/2" seam allowance to leave a nice finished inside edge when you turn it right side out.  

Stitch the upper edge of the pocket on both sides down to almost the piping. Then turn right side out. This is the back view when you are finished.


7. Press.

8. Last of all, fold the raw edges in the same width as the upper edge of the pocket. Iron seam allowances down. Lay the pocket where you want it on the apron and stitch it in place. Reinforce at the opening edges of the pocket.

I also lined the back of mine by cutting out muslin the same shape as the skirt. I added the pocket last, sewing through all layers.  This first one, I didn't think of lining until the end.

When I made the other aprons, I left the bottom edge of the lining open when I stitched on the ruffle and then turned under enough of the lining to cover the raw edges and stitch in place. 

A lot of work...but all for some beautiful aprons! These were a Christmas gift so I wanted to make extra nice aprons. 

PS. I used red fabric paint to write the names of all of Shona Cole's girls and MOM on hers. 

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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