Thursday, September 27, 2012

Old Sweater New Mittens

Lately my crafting time has been spent cutting out squares of fabric from dresses the girls wore when they were little. I want to make quilts with them.

I know. The girls are now 14 and 11 years old. I have no explanation for what has taken me so long to start making these quilts. And yes, I've held onto the dresses they wore when they were little all this time. Better late than never. Right?

Cutting out squares of fabric can be tedious work. Very tedious work. BORING.

Hence the reason I decided to work on something else yesterday. I needed a project I could start and finish in a couple of hours. I needed the satisfaction of a completed craft! 

Hmmm. That may be the explanation as to why I waited so long to start the quilt project. While I enjoy a crafty project, my crafting time is usually limited. In my opinion, the best kind of craft project is a quickly completed craft project. Can I get an amen?

I definitely needed the morale boost of a finished project!

I took this comfy, old sweater that no longer fits either of the girls, and decided to make some comfy mittens. I followed a tutorial from Martha Stewart to make my mittens. 

I decided to use this sweater because it had perfect waist band for mitten cuffs. Mittens must have a good cuff!

I traced a pattern that would be 1/2 inch larger than my hand to allow space for a double seem.

Then I turned my sweater inside out and cut through both layers of the sweater for each mitten. I had a total of 4 mitten pieces.

I cut the sweater inside out to save myself the step of putting right sides together. Inside out sweater = right sides together.

After removing the pattern piece, I pinned my mitten layers together and stitched them leaving a 1/2 inch seem allowance. I then went back and stitched a second seem to prevent unraveling, per Martha's instruction!

After all the seems were sewn, I turned my mittens right side out and tried them on!

They're so cute! The girls each want a pair too. I'm going to have to find some more comfy, old sweaters!

I'm so excited about my new mittens! Yay! A project done! And what perfect timing. It's going to be in the upper 70s this weekend. -pffft-

Do you struggle through craft projects that take a long time to complete? Or am I the only one?


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Happy happy joy joy!! Whoop whoop, hurray! It's Fall!

I kinda have a thing for Fall. It's my favorite time of year.

It's time for bonfires and s'mores!

I'm a little bummed though that I can't find strawberry marshmallows this year! I never was a big fan of s'mores until I discovered strawberry marshmallows. Now I can't find them anywhere. Oh the injustice!

It's time for trips to the orchard!

And apples baked into sweet, satisfying desserts!

Hello delight of my tastebuds! -drool- 

Anyone else have an absolute weakness for apple dumplings?


I shall wipe my chin and continue then.

Fall also means it's time for hearty meals. Comfort food if you will.

No more light dishes.

No more worrying about heating up the house when I cook.

It's time to turn on the oven!

It's time for roasts and stews and filling the house with all the promising aromas of a satisfying meal at the end of the long day!

I started off this new season of hearty meals with an old favorite...meatloaf!

There are many good recipes out there for meatloaf, this is the Family's favorite. 

1 pound ground beef (1 pound is perfect for our family of 4. Add another 1/2 pound if you need to feed a couple more)
2 slices of bread, cut into cubes
1/4 cup onion, chopped (if I'm out of fresh onion I'll use dried, chopped onion. Which I had to do for last night's meatloaf) 
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup milk

Place all of your ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

Many people like to mix their meatloaf ingredients by hand. I'm not one of those people. YUCK! I like to use a fork. That way I can still use my hands to answer the phone, apply a bandaid if needed, (Why do children always seem to get hurt while you're in the middle of making dinner?) or take a photo of the bowl full of meatloaf ingredients. You know, whatever comes up, I'm ready to handle it! Punny!

Once your ingredients are mixed well, gently spread into a bread loaf pan.

Top with ketchup.

I like to evenly spread the ketchup over the top of the meatloaf. That was a gross looking picture though! YIKES!! I'm not going to show it. You may spread it or leave it in swirls. Up to you.

Bake at 350˚ for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It will be one of the best smelling hour and fifteen minutes ever!! Next to the apple dumpling baking smell that is.

Served with mashed potatoes and corn, satisfaction is guaranteed!!

The family devours! 4 thumbs up! 

Now just so I don't leave you with the impression that the only thing I like about Fall is the food,

we're super excited that Miss Emma Bean's Fall volleyball season has started. Her team even won their first game! Way to go team!!

Ahhhh Fall!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Looks Good Enough To Eat

In spite of the family's efforts this year to help get the garden planted,

it rebelled. It refused to flourish. It produced little to no good "fruit" this season. The garden was a bust.

I think it sensed my initial reluctance to plant vegetables this summer. It's feelings may have been hurt. Then again maybe it was the heat, and the lack of weeding and watering on my part. Hmmmm? We'll probably never know what really happened.

Whatever the case may be, it did not stop the annual fall garden raid.

It happens every year about this time.

The girls and their friends rummage through the garden seeking the remaining vegetation, then they begin to "cook!"

Oh my word!

Their creations looked good enough to eat this year! 

Of course there's no telling how sour those cucumbers are by now, or what weeds may have gotten mixed into those fancy looking dishes, but I think we may have some future Top Chefs on our hands. Or maybe even some budding food stylists who can give me a hand with photos for the upcoming recipes I want to share! Whoop whoop! But heed this warning, no matter how good it looks, never eat anything my children try to serve to you from a frisbee! Just sayin'!


Friday, September 21, 2012

How Old Is Too Old

Have you noticed that all things Halloween are in stores already?

Have your children begun to talk about costume ideas yet?

Mine have.

Funny thing is, it's Miss Sofia, who recently said it's perfectly fine to still call her Miss Sofi Bug on occasion, -yay!- who brings it up the most.

A few years ago the Husband and I told the girls that by the time they turned 12 it would be time to be done trick or treating. They would be too old for it.

Well, we didn't have the heart to make Miss Sofia stop at 12. Then we didn't have the heart to make her stop at 13. So here we are, Miss Sofia is 14, 2 years beyond what we've said is too old, trying to figure out what she'll do on Halloween, and desperately wishing she could still trick or treat. Hence the constantly bringing it up.

Here's the problem, our family has a really good time on Halloween.

From pumpkin carving,

to handing out candy. It's a good time. Miss Sofia isn't ready to give it up yet.

It's not just the candy. Although she likes the candy! There's always lots of candy! Who doesn't like the candy?

It's also our fun neighborhood. Our neighbors make a sweet fuss over the kids. The kids really enjoy it.

It's the fun of dressing up too.

Over the years the girls have begun to look for ways to make costumes instead of buying them readymade. The girls have a blast making their own costumes. OK so they get a little help from mom. But it's still a great time and I enjoy how excited they get.

Even the Husband likes to dress up. And he's way older than 14!

Most of all though, the kids have a great time together.

Just look at them! How can we break that up? And then when you add in our neighbors, their good friends, I become weak.

Every year while we moms hand out candy to all of the sweet neighborhood monsters and princesses, the dads take our sometimes motley little crew around to fill their own treat bags.

They have so much fun together. Is it any wonder it's so hard to make them stop?

So the question...How old is too old?

We've had kids trick or treating in the past who were in their teens. It doesn't bother me, but I'm concerned it will bother others. Does it bother you? 

If kids, even teens, still enjoy Halloween, and they just want to have fun with their friends and little siblings, should there be a cut off age or should we let them continue to enjoy being a kid for a little while longer?

I'm leaning toward allowing them, encouraging them even, to have fun. You know, for their little siblings' sakes!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

For All Who Have Had To Climb

Do you remember my friend Amy?

In June I talked about her cancer diagnosis in the blog post When Faith is Big Cancer Becomes Small

Just recently Amy received the results of a blood test that reported her cancer marker numbers have fallen into a nearly normal range. The doctors said that until Amy's next scan they won't know if that means the tumors are shrinking or not, but it is a very good test result! We are rejoicing and thanking God!!

As Amy and I chatted the other day, she asked, "How do you remain thankful when you have cancer?"

We became distracted before we could discuss the question further. The timing of the question amazed me. I have been thinking the same thing as the Husband and I are dealing with the concern of lost income and looking at the probability of very tight finances for awhile. How do we remain thankful. Can we continue to be thankful if it never gets easier?

I don't think Amy asked because she's been struggling to be thankful. I think it was more a statement of wonder. You see, I've seen her thankful heart. A thankful heart for friends who have loved and supported. For her children and husband. For the good news of this blood test. For God's grace and love!

As I have pondered this question of being thankful myself, an adventure the Husband and I had a long time ago, a VERY long time ago, came to mind.

The Husband and I, a long time ago, took a trip to California. We decided to visit the Muir Woods National Park.

Old photo. Taken with film! Ah the old days.

It's a beautiful park! 

We arrived early and began to wander around, then we thought...hey why not just follow this marked trail. We didn't plan this little excursion very well. We just showed up at the park and started walking. We didn't even have the good sense to stop for a park map! Good gravy!

The trail we decided to stroll, became more of a climb. 

We climbed. And then we climbed some more. 

We began to wonder if this little hike had been such a good idea.

We climbed some more.

We began to imagine all sorts of terrible scenarios. Had we gotten lost? What if we were lost and no one ever found us? Why didn't we think to bring water? Where would this trail end? What if the trail never ended? -ahh- 

We may have freaked ourselves out a little. Me more than the Husband for sure.

We continued to climb.

The trees were beautiful, which of course is what the park is known for. They were so tall and majestic. We couldn't help but wonder at them. It made much of the trail very dark though. It was a huge relief when the sun would occasionally shine through and we could feel it's warmth. It was good to know the sun was still shining, because it began to feel like we'd been climbing all day.

Along the way the Husband and I, though concerned about where we would end up, began to also enjoy all the woods had to show us.

Terrible photo I know. But look, Banana slug! Yes, a little ewwww too.
We oohed and ahed quite a lot on that hike. Then suddenly we made it to the top of the hill.

Oh the joy of making it to the top. The top of what or where we didn't know. And we maybe felt a little worse for wear. So be it! We'd made it to the top! -Woohoo-

The trip down the hill was equally as long as the climb up. But the hardest part was done. We had made it to the top. 

On the walk down the hill we talked and laughed about how tough the climb had been. How unprepared we were for how long it would take, and how difficult it would be. We laughed though because we had made it!

We ended our hike with shaking legs and we were very thirsty. But we were grateful for all we had seen. It was an amazing day. 

That was when we finally stopped into the visitor's center and learned that the trail we followed, to enjoy a little "stroll," had been a 3 mile hike!! A mile and a half uphill and a mile and a half down. -bah!-

Life is so much like that unexpected hike. Sometimes it becomes a difficult and painful uphill climb. We don't know where we'll end up and much of the path is covered in darkness. 

Sometimes we just want to turn around and go back the way we came! But as we continue the journey, the light shines through, it brightens our path! The sun Son still shines. And oh the wonders we will see and experience along the way! Yes, there will be much for which to be thankful. For strength and courage. For beauty and wonders. For those who take the journey with us!

Oh yes, those who take the journey with us are a such a gift. They encourage. They shed tears. They comfort and they pray! They let you imagine the scary places and say you can make the climb even if.

Thank you to all who offered wonderful words of encouragement after reading my last post! Thank you for prayers and support! Thank you for taking the journey with me! For you I am very thankful!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Test of Faith

I haven't shared this with you before, and frankly, it's not easy to share now. But I suspect I'm not the only one who struggles with hard life issues. I'm probably not the only one trying to figure out how to live out my faith when the going gets tough.

I really wanted to wait to share this with you when all was said and done. When I could proclaim God's glory. When I felt like shouting from the mountaintop. The thought that others may need encouragement too, others may need to know they're not the only ones hesitating to take the faith step, that others may need to know life isn't difficult just for them, these are the reasons I decided to share now. Well, that and the nudging hasn't gone away. It's been two weeks. Yep, time to tell it!

Some things didn't go as planned this summer.

Oh we had some fun that's for sure. Time with the girls, our staycation, laughing, and swimming! Oh and ice-cream! 


What didn't go as planned is this. The Husband is a very hard working man with a full-time job. He also works freelance on the side to bring in extra income. The extra income is necessary. It pays for our family's healthcare costs as his full-time job offers no healthcare benefits, and it covers our second mortgage payment. The second mortgage is all we have left from some pretty significant debt we incurred several years ago. Some of the debt was from poor choices on our part. Some of the debt was from circumstances we could not control. Well, that freelance work, which the Husband's clients began to plan to have him do late in the spring, it never came through. We have no idea why. While freelance work is unpredictable, some months are crazy busy and some months are very slow, no freelance work (sorry there was one small job) has come in for months now. This is not the norm.

We have relied on this extra income for 6 years. Now it appears to be gone. YIKES!!! And last year we had to replace our furnace and A/C, as well as our fridge which died, and we had major car repairs as well as braces for Miss Sofia. Whew!! It's cut pretty far into our small savings. Double yikes!! It's looking very tight my friends. VERY!

And it's scary. S.C.A.R.Y!

My first reaction, as finances are getting tighter, is to decide to put the brakes on our giving. Sounds pretty wise doesn't it?

Than I read this in Proverbs. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths. And then this...Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3:5 & 9)

Now we don't have a barn, or wine vats for that matter, but God is saying He will provide. Not just provide, but provide in abundance.

So here it is my friends. The moment where faith is tested.

I don't necessarily think God is testing me. I think life is hard. Things don't go as expected. I believe God saw it coming and has a plan to work it out. The question is, "Will my faith be bigger than my fear?"

The test is one I'm giving myself.

The test is this, will I trust by continuing to give faithfully even when it looks like it won't workout and see what God will do or will I hold back in fear and miss out on watching God work and receiving His blessing.

Will I follow God? 

Will I trust Him when He says in Malachi 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,(He says try me now!) If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it?

Will I trust God that it is more blessed to give than receive? Acts 20:35

Will I trust that God is good and knows all of my needs and that He will provide for them? Matthew 6:32

Will I remember that as the Husband and I began to seek God's wisdom in dealing with our finances, we found wonderful godly guidance in a book called Your Money Map, that God has already brought us out of a huge amount of debt?

Will I remember that, though it is still tough, sometimes getting to know the Healer is more important than the healing? Thank you Beth Moore for that truth!

Will I start to grumble as Israel did when God brought them out of bandage in Egypt? When they didn't know how He would meet their needs. Exodus 14-16 Or will I ask Him for what I need and trust He will provide as He has always done for His people?

Will I be "Ye of little faith?"


I will move forward! I will walk by faith! I will take God at His word. I will unclench my hands. I will tighten up my belt for this time if need be. I will remember all that God has done for me in the past - it has been so good! I will trust in His promises! I will let my faith be bigger than my fear because the Father's love for me is great! And I will ask Him to meet all of my family's needs. 

The Husband and I will seek God's guidance as to what to do from here to provide for our family!

We will let this be a time to let our faith grow!

It's may not be easy, might shed a few tears along the way, but I will trust and it will be worth it!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Remember 9/11

My heart is heavy today with the memory of the attack on my country 11 years ago.

I weep as I once again see the horrific images of that day and as I listen to the retelling of that day's events.

I've seen this image several times before, but today it impressed a new meaning on me.

As I looked at this image the verse Joshua 1:9 came to mind. Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

God did not desert us in our time of trouble. 

Instead He gave heroes great strength to help others. And help others they did. Selflessly. Bravely.

Though we indeed were bruised, God has not allowed us to be crushed. We have rebuilt. We have moved forward! Lamentations 3:22 It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.

God has had great compassion on us. His heart ached with our own for the suffering and pain that was inflicted. Today He continues the work of healing our hearts. Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

The debris is gone. The memory is strong. 

We're still healing, without forgetting. 

We move forward strong and brave, hopefully honoring those whose lives they gave.

The cross that stood, in the midst of the rubble that day, reminds me that the healing, the hope, the strength we've had, This is the Lord's doing, It is marvelous in my eyes. Psalm 118:23.

May we continue to seek the Lord's healing and may the Lord continue to bless our nation.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Daisy Picker

She's smart and funny.

She has a great sense of style.

She is kind and compassionate, sometimes strong willed, and quick to defend others.

She's also our daisy picker.

Literally and figuratively.

Our Miss Emma Bean can become easily distracted.

She will stop to smell the roses or read a book or gravitate to something shiny instead of getting ready or cleaning her room or instead of whatever it is she was supposed to be doing.

Don't get me wrong, I love that she's a daisy picker! She notices what's around her and wants to take time to enjoy life. It's a very good thing. Unless you're now a 6th grader, in middle school, who has very limited time in the morning to get ready!!

In the past Miss Emma Bean has had a lot of extra time in the mornings and little distractions weren't a very big deal. This year, not so much! She has a lot less time and must use it wisely to get ready. 

The Husband and I knew we needed a plan to help Miss Emma Bean focus. Here's what we came up with, and so far it's working!! Whoop whoop!!

I purchased a cute little container from Target for $1.00 and grabbed some clothes pins I had leftover from another project.

I pulled out the Washi tape I'd purchased some time ago. I bought it because it's so pretty and I was hoping I could come up with a fabulous craft idea for it's use. I haven't. I'm at a loss! But it's sooo pretty!

Anyway, I placed a strip of Washi tape, with a task written on it for getting ready in the morning, on each clothespin...brush teeth, comb hair, make bed, etc. Then I clipped each clothespin to the edge of the container.

It's not that Miss Emma Bean doesn't know she has to do these tasks to get ready. Oh she knows! It's just that she can become distracted, quickly distracted, and forget that she wasn't finished getting ready. Love her!

Miss Emma Bean now has a visual reminder of what must be accomplished each morning. As she completes a task, she drops the clothespin labeled with the task into the container. When all of the clothespins are in the container, she knows she's done and can do what she wants in the time she has remaining.

Now she no longer has any excuse for forgetting a task that needs to be completed in the morning and the Husband and I don't have to be chasing after her to get ready. She's also learning to be more responsible for herself and her time. Win win!

I don't think she'll need to use this tool for very long. In a few weeks I think the pattern will be set and automatic. It's been a huge help for these first few days of school though!

I wish I had thought of this idea when the girls were younger to teach them their bedtime routine. I think attaching a photo for each bedtime task - a toothbrush, pajamas, etc - would have made bedtime a lot easier. Oh well. Live and learn.

So, from one mom of a daisy picker to any others out there, this idea has been super helpful. Thought I'd pass it along.

And if anyone has any great craft ideas for the Washi tape, I'd love to hear them!! Please and thank you!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tackling A New School Year

Last week was crazier than a hen house with a fox trapped inside!!

With both girls experiencing big leaps for the upcoming school year, Miss Emma Bean moving to the middle school and Miss Sofia moving on to high school, it was a mixture of sheer panic, elation, and dread. It was exhausting.

Fortunately the panic and dread subsided significantly after the girls went to their respective school open houses. -whew-

Once locker combinations were practiced and perfected - I hope! - and they walked through their new class schedules, they were ready to tackle the new year with a little more confidence. Oh thank goodness!!

Oh yes, they were ready for any challenge the new school year was going to dish out. Well, they were ready for the rest of that afternoon anyway.

The moves to middle school and high school felt huge. It's been a little daunting. I'm keenly aware that there are just a few short years remaining before Miss Sofia will be heading off to college and how much letting go I will have to do in those few short years. I'm also keenly aware of how quickly Miss Emma Bean is following right behind her sister. -sigh-

The girls have also begun to acknowledge this depleting time. They have begun to ask questions like, "Will you miss us when we move away? Do you wish we would stay with you forever? Does it make you sad that we will grow up and leave?"

I reassure them that I am very excited for them! There are so many wonderful things they are going to get to experience! I tell them how proud I am of the amazing young women they've become. It's a joy to watch them grow. And I tell them that I will be here for them as long as I live. I also tell them that just because they grow up and move into their own lives and have their own families does not mean that we won't spend time together. I will always delight in spending time with them! And that is the truth.

However, moms have a little more truth that they don't necessarily share with their children. A truth that they mostly share just amongst themselves. Am I right? 

The truth that while we rejoice at each new step of growth our babies make, we suffer a little too. We suffer the pain of learning to let go.

The truth that while we cheer them on and want them to learn to be self sufficient, we also want to continue to take care of them. We want to be needed by them. 

The truth that while we want them to move on into their own lives and have bright futures, we don't want them to go. We want them to stay!!

The truth that one day when they are grown, when they are ready to venture out on their own, we will encourage them by saying, "You can do this!!" even though we know it will leave a little empty place inside us.

Ah yes, the truth is that raising our children to be strong adults is rewarding and painful all at the same time, and this is why a mom's joyful laughter often comes with a few tears.

But for right now it's just the first day of middle school and high school.

We'll take it one day at a time, we'll hold tightly to the joy of watching them grow, and we'll let it give us the strength to let them go.