Saturday, February 27, 2010

Newest Completed Project

I just finished my second BSJ. It is supposed to be for Isaac, but it came out WAY bigger than I imagined. So, it might just fit Jerusha for oh, about 10 minutes, and then I will tuck it away for Isaac when he is bigger.

I tried my hand, em, knitting needles, at lengthening the sleeves and adding ribbed cuffs. I also added a collar, which was super easy to do.

My "Just Because" quilt is at a stand still until I can get some batting, so I started working on our matching slip on blouses. Hopefully those, and the box pleat skirts will be done within a week or so.

On my needles right now is a wool soaker for Isaac, with plans for at least one more after that, then a bunting for a friend of mine due with a baby this spring.

Off I go, still plugging away at the sewing/knitting/quilting pile....


Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Wild Couple of Weeks at the Hive!

Just after that last post about my wonderful kids, we got hit with the tummy bug. It started with Esther, then spread through most of the rest of the family over a week. It was a strange bug... not very severe, but lingering. A child would go 8, 10, or more hours without using a bucket, then all of a sudden need one. My Valentine's day here was spent running a bucket brigade.

Thankfully, Dale, myself, Isaac, and Josiah never got it, and it has been almost a week since the last "episode" so I think we are in the clear.

After everyone was done with the buckets (you'll notice I am refraining from using the crude "throwing up" phrase!) I took a couple of days and washed ALL bedding including matress covers and pillows, along with all the quilts, blankets, sheets, pillow cases that were near or used by the sickies. I also sprayed and scrubbed the house like crazy, in hopes of preventing any relapses. Whew!

Then a very good thing happened. I know I am weird, and most ladies wouldn't be happy about this, but Dale was put on lay off. The reason I can be happy is because first of all, I know God is in control. Also, it happens around this time every year, and I look forward to it. Knowing it is coming, we can plan accordingly. We also know he will be going back to work in about 4 weeks or less, so it isn't indefinate.

I love Dale, so don't get me wrong when I say that having him home has been a distraction to say the least. A good one, to be sure. Monday we ditched school in the morning to go out with the kids to do the errands. We all needed the fresh air anyway, so it was a good thing.

Tuesday was a somewhat "normal" day, whatever that means.

Wednesday I had a little "straw that broke the camel's back" episode. I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had to do something about the pig stys that masquerade as the kids' bedrooms. We spent the day sorting, decluttering, cleaning their rooms. I helped the girls go through each and every one of their drawers and sorted clothes. It is amazing how much room was left after sorting! I also helped (aka.. took over much to their chagrin) with throwing stuff away. There were TONS of little peices of paper.. trash.. everywhere! Like jumbo sized confetti. We cleaned out their toy bins. We sorted, decluttered and threw out whatever I could get away with.

Benjamin, at 13, is on his own. As long as it passes inspection, I didn't care what he did. Ah, the advantages of being the oldest!

The little boys are continuing their endeavors today. They assure me they don't need my help. Personally, I think the girls told them about my throwing away spree, and they are too apprehensive to have Mama go in and help. Chickens.

Meanwhile, I have no finished projects to post about, but am close to finishing a couple. The "Just Because" quilt has been slower getting finished that I thought. The back is almost done, just a couple of final seams then it will be all pieced. Then I will set it aside until I can get some batting. I can't wait to get it quilted and finished. I REALLY like how it is coming out.

I did manage to get our slip on blouses cut out the other day, so after I finish the back today I'll start sewing those up.

I have been knitting in the evenings after the kids are in bed and am almost done with a BSJ for Isaac... er, or Jerusha. I upped the size on it by using bigger needles and I think it was a little overkill. It could very well fit Jerusha before Isaac grows into it. I have also started a soaker using the Curly Purly pattern on Ravelry. It is my first time knitting in the round and I feel like I am all thumbs! Of course, it helped after I realized I was knitting the thing inside out, instead of the the right way. Doh!

We are having some winterish weather today. There are certain people in our church who always makes me laugh because when the forecast says "snow" they go into a near panic over the "big storm" that is coming out way. What the weather thing online says is 3 to 5 inches of snow. It will be wet and heavy because of warmer temperatures, and winds builiding up to 20 to 30 mph, with possible gust over 40. So, the "big storm" I heard about from "someone" at church was presented last night as lots of snow, with hurricane winds of up to 60 mph, and we'll probably lose power, and oh how nasty it is going to be.

Ha! Where we used to live, this was a common occurance. The snow, winds, and the power outage happened quite often. Just be prepared, and ride it out. We are making extra bread and I'm making a huge pot of ham soup, and we have water drawn for drinking etc. We have the woodstove for heat. At the very least, if we don't lose power, at least I won't have to cook for a few days. LOL

Put your big boy pants on and deal with it people. It's winter for crying out loud! (imagine me giggling wildly here, because I love it!).

Okay, back to work for this mama!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Above the call of "Duty"

That is what I would say my children exhibited yesterday. We had all the regular chores and schoolwork to do, plus getting ready for a memorial service. The gentleman it was for was the most mild mannered people I have ever met. He made Dale look spirited. Those of you who know Dale can only imagine what Steve was like. Those of you who knew Steve Powell, know what I am talking about. Steve didn't say very much, but had a wonderful sense of humor. A very dry sense of humor. He never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. He never worried about all those things that most people worry about. I'm sure he wasn't perfect, because no one but Jesus is, but he certainly was a lot closer than most people. He was greatly loved and respected, as witnessed by the 140 people that came to the church last night. Our tiny little church was packed almost to bursting. People were sitting like sardines from ON the platform in the front of the church all the way to the back of the foyer. It was a very simple service, but part of the service was to share stories about Steve, and that was wonderful, and ended up being quite humorous. It was an amazing memorial service. Yes, we'll miss Steve. He was one of a kind, that is for sure. I wish there were more like him out there. He was always helping someone cut wood, delivering food, giving rides to go shopping or doctor's appointments, etc. We are glad he is with the Lord, no longer suffering from his failing health, but what a wonderful godly example was lost to our generation!

Now, as a mama, I have to sing my children's praises. :)

My daughter Esther was on kitchen duty at home quite a bit yesterday. It wasn't planned, but just worked out that way. We knew there was going to be a ton of people at the Memorial service, so I filled my big crock pot with food, and was going to whip up a cake from a mix I had when Esther said:

"Mama, can I make something from scratch? I want to do something that takes more effort since it is for Mr. Powell's memorial."

I thought that was so sweet! She made cocoa fudge brownies (with me supervising while ironing) with walnuts. They were delicious. Now understand, before that, she had made breakfast, and made up a double batch of bread. She had already spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen. And she still had schoolwork to do. She wasn't concerned for herself, but wanted to do what she could.

Fast forward through the day and at church. I won't go chronologically through the evening, but the kids helped out by moving chairs into the foyer before we started service, and moved the chairs back down stairs after service for the meal time. Benjamin did some extra shovelling in a hurry for better access to the walkway. He also manned the video camera. The kids all sang a special (Steve always loved to hear them sing). They helped set up for the meal. They did dishes and wiping down, and helped in the general cleaning up AFTER it was all said and done. They were gophers, workers, movers, helpers, and did it all with a good attitude.

I can't help it, I was proud of them. They did a SUPER job. It is easy as a parent to focus on the negatives, because it is our job to train them. I tend to see what needs to be worked on, not what is already going well, if that makes sense. But when they "do good" they should be praised for that, too. There is nothing wrong with some positive reinforcement.

It ended up being a very late night last night, so I have let the children sleep in this morning. We will do a little bit of school work, but I am keeping it simple as possible. My good workers deserve a break, that is for sure!

So please excuse my tooting the kids' horn. I just have to say they went above and beyond their call of duty last night.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Never Enough Time

I'm sure if I could spend all day sewing then I would get bored, right?

Yeah right.

Anyway, I can't spend all day sewing. Like everyone else, life's responsibilities can get in the way. :) The last couple days I haven't even gotten near my sewing machine and I am having withdrawal. Today doesn't look too promising either. We have a memorial service at church this evening for a dear old gentleman that passed away over the weekend and I have some extra cooking and baking to do for the dish to pass after.

Many times I will hear "I can't believe how much sewing you do!". Or, "how do you find time to sew?". I know with the busyness of family life it isn't easy. If you home school it can be an even greater challenge to find the time. That is the problem, you can't find the time, you have to take the time.

Honestly, when I had all preschoolers, I don't know how I did it. I did though. I think it was mostly done during nap times and evenings when Dale was home from work or after bedtime. I tried to keep it simple too. I didn't quilt back then, so basically my sewing was garments for my quickly growing twin girls. I did manage to squeak out some matching outfits for the three of us. By the time the third girl was born several years later, the ones that were preschool age were old enough to help keep an eye on the baby so there was a little more time to sew.

My mindset for sewing may different from yours. To me, it isn't just a hobby. I have two categories of sewing. One is what I call chore sewing. You know, those things that you have to make that you may not be interested in making at the moment. For example, right now I would love to spend my time using up some of my stash and cranking out some quilts. However, I have these children that keep growing. I don't usually need to make too much for the boys. The thrift store has been kind to us in that respect, thankfully! I have made little overalls, matching button down shirts, pj's, etc, in the past. Usually we do well enough between yard saling and thrift stores that the boys are already well provided for.

The girls... they are a little harder. Thus, my making things for them are more of a necessity, not a hobby. This means that I may need Dale to take over some of the home schooling if he is home so I can do something only I can do. No one else can do it. Or if Dale isn't available I may have to let the cleaning schedule relax a bit so I can get the sewing that needs to be done completed. I don't always treat sewing as a hobby. There are certain times in the year when it really does take priority and everyone else has to pitch in to get the regular chores done.

Then there is what I call my "fun sewing", a.k.a., quilting. I also call it therapy. If I am cranky or out of sorts, usually spending some time to be creative mends that for me. No pun intended. There are times when the "chore" sewing isn't pressing (oops, sorry about that pun too) and I can revel in some "just for the fun of it" type of sewing. That type of sewing is on the side, and I don't usually make that a priority, though I plan my time so I can do a little each day.

To sum up this rather lengthy missive that was intended to be short, here are some tips:

1. If you are needing to get something finished, don't be afraid to make it a priority. Don't be afraid to delegate. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You aren't supermommy. In our house, the logic is, if Dh wants our girls to dress to a certain standard, as the head of our house, he helps to make it happen by helping out with the regular chores, home schooling, etc. within reason, so I can sew.

2. If you home school, and you are under the wire for getting some chore sewing done, you are allowed to take some time off from the home schooling, or cut it back. Have the kids help and call it home ec. ;)

3. Keep it simple as you can. Do you reallllly need those ruffles around the Peter Pan collar? Do you have the time/patience for that? Will an easier pattern do just as well as one that is more involved?

4. Prioritize. Sometimes it seems like you need to do several things at once. Needs pile up, and it can be overwhelming. However pick what needs to be done first and do it. Then move onto the next thing.

5. Assembly line sew! For us girls I like to have matching outfits for church. There are a couple reasons for this. One, I think the girls look cute. But another reason is that with all the same material, I can cut all our outfits out and assembly line sew them together. It is much quicker than doing four outfits separately.

6. Use those little snatches of time wisely. Do you have 10 minutes? Sit down and do a little bit. The nice thing about sewing is that you can do little snatches like that. The only thing I need a chunk of time for is cutting out. Since our big table is almost always in use, it is near impossible to find a chunk of time so sometimes in the afternoons I will shoo kids thither and yon to the corners of the house with whatever school work they are doing so I can use the big table to cut out. Other than that, 90% of my sewing is done at odd moments in the day, and in the evenings during our free time.

7. Have your sewing area in the main part of the house. That will give you even more time. Due to lack of space in our little house there is no where else for me to set up my sewing area, but in the living room. It has always been that way, and it has been the key to getting sewing done.

8. Use the crock pot. Seriously, I know that sounds funny, but it really is a wondering thing! I try to do as many crock pot meals as possible. I set it up earlier in the day, and in the afternoon I can sew without worrying about making a meal for supper. It really frees up some time!

I hope those tips help! Now that I have given away my secrets to finding time to sew, you can see it isn't that big of a deal. LOL.

Happy creating!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stepping Stones Quilt

I finished this Monday and was going to post a pic yesterday but got extremely busy with a houseful of kids (mine and a friend's). By the time the kids left, I did my exercising, and took a shower, I was too pooped to pop. I just crashed for the evening.

I have decided it should go to the father of the gentleman it was originally intended for. The dad is fighting cancer too, and has been on our prayer list for years, and he was coming to the church for a while when he was feeling up to it. Dale is going to visit him this weekend so he can take the love gift from our Fibers of Faith group when he makes the call.

The fascination cats have with quilts is very curious. Here Mattan is *helping* me do some basting. He got so annoying that I had to put him in the bathroom until I was done. Watching is one thing, but chasing my hand while I am handling basting pins is another!

I did a simple stippling for the quilting.

Close up of the fabric before quilting:

Dale picked out the fabric for me one evening at Walmart's. I have very little "guy" type fabric in the stash. Didn't he do a good job? When I mentioned how well versed in shop talk he was getting (he knows batting, and what the bias is, how to match thread, zippers, buttons, etc....) he just looked at me wryly and said it was part of the hazards of being married to a quilter. Pfffft.

Close up after the quilting:

And, of course I had to do some fun piecing on the back. :)

I have to say I wasn't thrilled with the light green material I used. Someone had given me oodles of it a few years ago, and it is just not top quality type of material. It seems to create "tucks" easily, like it doesn't have enough body to hold its own,so to speak. I have used it in smaller pieces and it didn't seem so bad then. Maybe the trick is to not use it in big portions? I have a TON left and will continue to use it, probably in the scrap quilts I plan on making this year. I have a feeling after using it up I'll never want to see a mint green again. LOL!

The "Just Because" top is completed, and I have decided on how I am going to quilt it. I will start piecing the back today. The quilting is a little more involved in this one because I am experimenting with those wonderful templates my dh gave me for Christmas. I have to say, I am very pleased with the top, and love the secondary pattern that emerged. I am looking forward to posting a show and tell pic of it!


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY February 8th....

Outside my window... Some snow in the air, some sunshine... take your pick!

I am thinking... winter is beautiful!

I am thankful for... a very patient husband.

From the learning rooms... Continuing in our lap book studies on Beric the Briton and Ancient Rome, Horses, and hoping that our new read aloud book will get here before we finish the current book!

From the kitchen... Peeking in the cupboards and making up the weekly menu and shopping list.

I am wearing... navy blue corduroy jumper, red turtleneck with little blue flowers, leggings, sweater and slippers.

I am creating... a healthier "me".

I am going... unfortunately to a memorial service for a dear old gentleman in our church who passed away Saturday.

I am reading... John Adams by David McCullough.

I am hoping... to finish the "Just Because" quilt this week.

I am hearing... a general, soft chitter chatter from the children who are on lunch break at the moment.

Around the house... general picking up, a mountain of laundry, organizational tasks for the week, and cleaning out some ashes from the wood stove.

One of my favorite things... A cup of coffee with my Bible reading in the morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Finishing the Just Because quilt, and cutting out some slip on blouses for the girls.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
Isaac, one year ago this month:

To participate see the guidelines at The Simple Woman .

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Adding To the Stash

Thanks to a cousin who posted about a great sale at JoAnn's, Esther and I went up yesterday afternoon to take advantage of it. I know the girls are going to need new flannel night gowns by this fall, so the flannel that was on sale was a major draw.

They also had Butterick patterns on sale for $1.99, and I got a couple of patterns. I had to buy a new pattern for the twins flannel nightgowns as the pattern I had they have WAY outgrown, and though I can alter it to a point, it is beyond even my feeble attempts. I splurged and spent $6 on that pattern (it was 48% off) but figured I was going to get A LOT of use out of it.

Here is the flannel and the patterns I will be using. The one on the left is the new one I just got. The other one (for Jerusha) was given to me years ago, and I have used it quite a bit).

These two patterns caught my eye, and I figured for $1.99, they were worth the try. They are pretty simple, and versatile. I can dress them up for church, or just use them for everyday wear. It is so hard to find modest dress patterns at a size 14!

I have a friend due with a baby this spring and she has a nice butterfly motif crib set, but wanted another quilt. She also is getting a portacrib that the baby will be in first off with chocolate and pale pink color scheme. She had already requested a baby quilt from me for her gift and I was trying to figure out which color scheme to go with. My dd Esther settled for me when she said "I'll make one". I had lots of lavendarish type scraps but nothing else to go with the pale yellow in the butterfly motif. So we found that, plus some nice contrast green. She will be making a 9 patch with green sashings and backing out of this:

I picked out these to make the baby quilt for the portacrib:

I love the teal and chocolate brown together and got these for another friend due with a baby this summer:

Now, I know I said one of my New Year's Delusions was to use as much scrap fabric as possible this year, but I did make exception to gifted quilts. Plus, I only got a half a yard of each of those, so it isn't as bad as one might think. It was all on sale too.

The "Stepping Stones" quilt is almost completed. I just have to finish the binding. I still have no clue where it is going! I am leaning towards the father of the gentleman who passed away earlier last week. I took a pic of the completed top before I sandwiched it but I will just post a pic when it is all done. Then I will finish up my "Just Because" quilt as I can. I really need to do some "chore" sewing. Maybe I can get away with just dividing my time between chore sewing and quilting... or just ignore the chore sewing and just quilt? There is never enough time to do all the sewing you want!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jehovah Jireh!

It's been a while since I posted one of these "the Lord hath provided" posts, so here is one.

The offices on the second floor of where Dale works have been shut down, and they have been cleaning out the area. There have been lots of desks, chairs, all manner of office supplies that have been thrown out. Every week for the last few weeks they have said that everyone could "dumpster dive" before the disposal company came and got everything that was set out.

I have been wanted a new desk for sewing. The old wooden one I have is okay but it wiggles quite a bit when sewing. I was hoping for a good sturdy desk with LOTS of drawer space, but alas, everything was just plain too big for the allotted space. Oh well!

However, Dale did bring home some goodies. He got us new captains' chairs for the kitchen table. He also got a file cabinet with lock, and the key, believe it or not for church, and a paper shredder for church. He also got new hanging files for the aforesaid file cabinet.

Also, he replaced Benjamin's computer monitor and mouse.

We have so many books that some are kept in boxes still. I have always said if I had some book ends I can use some space on top of our few bookcases. In the below picture is a big stack of those metal bookends (Okay, really, I told Dale a FEW,not 87 million, but that is okay!) another mouse (for what I don't know LOL), and more files for church.

Speaking of books, he brought home this large book case. Even if I don't use it all for books, it is sturdy and very much appreciated for any storage we can use it for! I can't wait to start organizing downstairs again!

I have never seen door hangers as strong as these:

Here is a box of the type of folders we use for lap booking, albeit they are purple! That will just add a new color interest. :)

We were also blessed with some items from the food pantry. This turkey is at least 20 lbs. That was a major blessing! It's "funny"... we didn't get any venison this year, but we have gotten lots of free turkeys. Not those little ones either, the big honkin' ones (I know, turkeys don't honk, they gobble, just like my kids) that you need at Thanksgiving! We have also gotten several hams. One of the perks of being a country pastor is that though you don't get a big paycheck, the people seem very giving, even if it is just bringing us a box from the food pantry.

There were six of these cute little cookies, in honor of Superbowl Sunday I imagine.

Here is a pic with a bunch of the goods in the box. The red boxes in the back are all sunflower seeds. What a great snack! Also they are fantastic to put in home made bread. Sunflower seeds are really good for you, and highly unappreciated, in my opinion.

Not pictured were some soft rolls, some bagels (not too hard this week! Yay!), some old but usable oranges, and a package of Oreos.

The Lord does provide physically, but it is important the other things He provides. Protection, for example. I am happy (?) to report that the demise of the Jetta was greatly overstated. Come to find out, it wasn't even touched by the fire, and it is all in one piece, unharmed, except for still needing the original repairs. Hey mom, I got my lawn ornament back!

Another thing the Lord can provide is peace. A family in our community just lost their adult son in a battle against 12 brain tumors. His father is still in a battle with cancer. They are going through a very rough patch and our prayers go out to them. We pray for God's peace and uplifting in their time of grief.

Ironically, the quilt that I was working on this week as a rush job for the Fibers of Faith ministry was to be for the man that just died. I'm not sure why the Lord laid it on my heart to make that quilt. I've been working like crazy to get it done, it just wasn't possible to get it done in time. As I finish it up I will be praying for direction as to where it should go. Perhaps to the dad? For now I will concentrate on getting it done and then I can finish up my "Just Because" quilt.

Usually in February Dale gets a 4 week lay off. I know to most people that is something to cringe over, but for us it is a good thing. However, this year, nothing has been said yet, and we are wondering if it is even going to happen. Dale did say that things are really starting to slow down at work, so hopefully we'll still get a couple weeks with him home. My "Honey Do" list is getting long! Heheheh... just kidding.

Well, maybe. ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Free Mini Unit Study

Ever heard of Gladys Aylward? Currclick is offering a free downloadable mini unit study. Get your copy here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY February 1st.... ( I can't believe it is February already!)

Outside my window... Sunshine!

I am thinking... There are one too many Mondays in the week.

I am thankful for... The end of the day.

I am wearing... multi colored tiered skirt and matching t-shirt, socks, and slippers. (Ha! It is night time when I am doing this and I came "this close" to changing into my pj's before I wrote this1 Neener neener neener!)

I am remembering... The warm feeling of fellowship in the Lord with a new family that has been visiting our church for a couple of weeks.

I am going... to be sewing like a mad fool this week to make a quick lap quilt for our Fibers of Faith ministry. Dale is going to visit someone later this week in Hospice care and the Lord laid it on my hear to do the lap quilt.

I am currently reading... John Adams by David McCullough.. I HIGHLY recommend this book... all his books. Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!!!!

I am hoping... I can fix my sewing machine quickly tonight. It has an alarming knocking to it.

On my mind... This rough day that is thankfully almost over.

Noticing that... My winter sewing pile isn't getting any smaller, and my spring/summer sewing list grew exponentially over the weekend. Yikes!

Pondering these words... "Consider the lilies of the field" - they grow where they are put. Many of us refuse to grow where we are put, consequently we take root nowhere. ~ Oswald Chambers

From the kitchen... We were tortured this evening with the smell of a spiral ham cooking for dinner. Leftover aplenty for split pea soup! Yummy!

Around the house... the usual Monday busyness today: Menu planning, making up shopping lists, LOTS of laundry, organizing the home school week, music practice, tidying up after the weekend, etc.

One of my favorite things... Seeing the sun make the snow on the ground sparkle like jewels from heaven.

On my prayer list... Several extremely ill people we know in our community. My heart is saddened that their health is going downhill so quickly that we don't expect them to be with us much longer.

I am hoping... that tomorrow will yeild a much more smooth day, and lots of sewing getting done.

A picture thought....

(The above was a quilt I made for my mother in law in 2006. I can't believe what a little tot Jerusha looks like! Do they have to grow so quickly?)

To participate in the Simple Woman's Daybook, visit Peggy's blog.