Dresses and skirts

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This post is pre-empting regularly scheduled Wednesday remix. I will post the remix later this evening… 


Sew far my summer has been sew busy. I’m having sew much fun. Fabric. Friends. Fellowship. Laughter. Learning. Love. Oh yeah, bring it on.

View from my sewing machine…it all matched
and I didn’t even plan it that way!



The hallmark of Monday was that I SMBO (sewed my butt off) with my friend Becki. She and I are on a journey to create a skirt. Not a terribly fancy garment but you’d think we were working on a wedding gown considering the amount of time it took for us to make a pattern from one of my favorite skirts. Her patience and instruction allowed me to think that eventually I’ll be able to do this myself. 


Then shortly after breakfast on Tuesday, I left my house and began my second day of SMBO. This time, I joined my friends, Jo and Mavis. Our intention was to make pillowcase dresses to be given to girls we will never meet this side of heaven. Jo’s sister-in-law has personally sewn 200 dresses, how hard could it be for the three of us to crank out a bunch for this worthy cause in a morning? 

Hopes were high as we all began the morning


Admittedly, we learned the answer to that question six hours later when Mavis was the only one who had successfully made a pillowcase dress.  It is more involved than we anticipated.

“It is hard not to be stuck up when you are the only one who has finished a pillowcase dress…”



Here is the video we used to create our dresses. It was quite helpful. 



I went home and by 9 pm, I had finally finished two dresses. I’ll never be a winner of Project Runway but that’s not my goal. I did it! I can do it!


When I am by myself, well that’s another story. A needle breaks or I sew something inside out and my spirit is mirthless, dinted with feelings of discouragement and futility. I can’t do it. I’m stupid. Probably should just give up, it’s never going to work.


This is Jo’s mother’s decoupaged sewing basket – it rocks!

The yards of fabric I have in my home will one day transform into pretty things, potentially even garments I can wear or create for loved ones. Sometimes to help myself fall asleep, I imagine all the possibilities…buttons, ribbons, zippers, trim and fabric perfectly matched together and I ascend to dreamland. 

Mavis, me and Jo ready to SOBO!
Amongst my talented friends, I feel sew hopeful, maybe even slightly invincible. Not because of my sewing acumen but because our abilities are shared and the things created become more beautiful.  For two glorious days, kind and generous women have pieced together memories and lovelies on a hot summer day. 

Taa daa! One of my finished pillowcase dresses!

What activity do you share with friends which brings out the best in you? What skills have you learned from your friends or taught them? 


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And the winner is…

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Ashley was sincerely excited when I told her the news! Here’s what she picked. Yay!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”



I wasn’t sure if I should do a give-away. Particularly with the “prize” being something I made. What if no one commented on my post or fb? 


Talk about petty worries. Seriously. But my feeble mind easily goes “there.” That insidious place of doubt, shame and exposure. It’s raw, vulnerable and oh so real. My orange hair, freckle-face OS does this (not about a blog but about a brother) and it’s a sure-fire sign he’s heading for trouble.


When his sentence starts with, “Well, Aaron…” Ike is cruising for a bruising. Whatever proceeds those two words spells problems for my 14 year old. Even with a verbal caution from a parent, he is so resolute on seeing injustice and unfairly judging a situation, Ike can’t see things clearly. 


His mama has the same problem…and not just with a silly blog either. Those thoughts which cause my spirit to be as thin as an onion skin, they are not from someone who loves me. They are from the Prince of Lies, the Enemy, Satan. He wants me to feel defeated and despondent about everything.


But he’s wrong. He’s a jerk and he wants to invade every aspect of my life. But he can’t because I’m

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”



He doesn’t have the final word on my life. 










And so I must remember this… I am a

“For you are all children of light, children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness.”
 
and
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
and
 you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
Through none of my efforts or talents but only because of the Lord’s grace, I am furthermore…
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Thanks to everyone for participating! It meant a lot to me! Encouraging words bless me. Also, thanks to God for His ageless reminders and timeless truth!

88 cents, actually 82 cents!

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At the start of our $50 grocery challenge, I never anticipated God would leave many touchstones for me this early. Our decision to attend Financial Peace University isn’t a mistake.

Since my birthday was last week (Thursday), admittedly I was worried that the day would fall flat. I mean we only had $12 left for food and that was Tuesday, how could MY birthday be properly celebrated?


As I mentioned previously, we are now using the “b” word regularly. Not the foul word bantered about without a care. And we are also using the “f” word. Not the offensive word that used to flow from my lips prior to knowing Christ. These new words are “budget” and “finances.” I wouldn’t say they are rolling off my tongue but they are slowly becoming part of our family lexicon.

We went to Trader Joe’s night after Ike’s basketball game. The team experienced a win against a formidable opponent. My orange hair, freckle face OS scored FIVE points and upon making one sah-weet basket, Ike looked my way and through his bright orange mouth guard, gave me the biggest grin. Melted my heart as I jumped from my seat.

As you get older, you worry less about how you look and you just go for it! 



With $12 remaining in last week’s $50 challenge, I chided the Hubs. We must stay on task even if it was the most notable day on the family calendar. Nervously we approached the check-out line at Trader Joe’s. A cart was barely necessary for our meager groceries. I pulled $10 out of my homemade tomato wallet (which I recently made and love!) and listened as the cashier announced the total.



We had 88 cents remaining on our food budget! Cha-ching! Resentment because we didn’t buy everything I would have liked was replaced with joy. I did not feel destitute, why I even recall spontaneous moments of smiling!

Tomato wallet in action

I do not want this to be some quixotic, fleeting adventure. I want our family to change and for God to be pleased with our efforts.


With the items purchased and the food we already had at home, the Hubs made a tasty dinner of rice, roasted asparagus and shrimp with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and Trader Joe limes. Yum.

Birthday dinner = wonderful!

This is the right thing for us to do. The time is right.


And just like those commercials for Ginzu knives, let me end with “but wait, there’s more!” In my next post, I will share the rest of this ridiculously memorable day! 


Oh and thank you so much for your ideas about eating healthy on a budget and couponing. I’m listening, give me more, people!

My Grocery Challenge

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On average, our family spends over $1100 a month on groceries. I learned this last week upon beginning Financial Peace Univeristy. Throughout our nearly 24 year marriage, I have made it a point to stay mostly ignorant on all things related to money. “Blah, blah, blah, blah…” is the script which ran through my head whenever the Hubs would want to have “the talk.” 


But now, for some reason, the Lord is giving me courage to open my eyes and share the responsibility with the Hubs. I feel both empowered by knowing our finances and encumbered because I now need to seriously participate in the process. We are not in financial straits at all yet the time seems right. 


We discussed our food budget. Aside from our mortage, it is the place where we spend the most. Although we narrowly averted a verbal altercation about lettuce right after attending church (!), we had a pleasant conversation about finances that night. My spirit was  challenged to consider ways we could cut back. 


I like to cook, it is my gift to my family. Cooking for others, entertaining, making new recipes; all these things are my passion. Coupons don’t work because we eat mostly fresh food or unprocessed items. I just see junky food in coupons. (Enlighten me if you feel otherwise!) For me, a cupboard full of food means stability. Bringing home groceries feels like I’m carting in Christmas presents for all to enjoy.


Yet as we were driving home from this week’s FPU lesson, I said something unexpected to the Hubs. When he told me that we had already spent $1100 on groceries this month, I blurted out the most preposterous thing.


“Let’s spend only $50 this week.”


HUH? I couldn’t take it back. The Hubs heard me and albeit he was shocked to hear those words coming out of MY mouth, he agreed. Here is a dramatic re-enactment of his facial expression. 

My husband. My muse. 

We announced the budget cut to the OS and a look of panic swept over their faces. Fear of starvation and famine, eating gruel and mush filled their adolescent minds and appetites.


So here we sit on Wednesday. According to my records, we only have $12 left until Sunday. 


For some time now, God has reminded me of this verse…



It’s Wednesday and everyone has a belly full of food. No one has gone hungry. Nutrition is plentiful. We even have shrimp in the freezer! Strangely, I feel a measure of peace. I have already prepared another meal for a family who has a wife battling breast cancer. I am in charge of snacks for my orange hair, freckle face OS’s basketball team tomorrow. I brought food to share during my women’s Bible Study. 

My daily longing for purchasing a large, unsweet iced tea is being satisfied at home with Trader Joe’s Mango Tea. The warm smell of turkey tacos, Guatemalan rice and seasoned tortilla chips permeates the house at this very moment. 


“Be content with what you have.”



I have spoken to the Lord and questioned Him about the timing though. “Um, Lord, I’m not sure if you realize this but it’s MY BIRTHDAY tomorrow (Thursday)! We only have 12 bucks, what are we going to do about that, hmmmmmm?” 

“Be content with what you have.”


I have requested homemade angel food cake (Ike’s specialty) for tomorrow. I’d love some fresh blackberries and homemade whipping cream if we can squeak the remaining $12 out to do so. I’m not sure what is on the menu for tomorrow’s birthday meal but as I assess my possessions, both earthly and those set on things above…


a sewing machine 🙂
a loving family
the blessings of treasured friends
stable finances and 
an enduring faith in the Lord,
and so much more


This will be my desire

to be content with all that I have

my bountiful life

Sew messy

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For the last six weeks, I have been a mad seamstress. Not mad as in angry but mad as in crazy, frazzled and ridiculously blessed. As of this post, I will have made almost 70 aprons for Christmas. Since I am the mama of three OS, I have used nearly half a football field worth of material. I have sewn aprons for people who aren’t even related to me, people who would not feel morally indebted to purchase something made by my hands.

Beyond my wildest expectations, the Lord has spoken to my heart deeply and when I have time, I wish to share with you my personal history as it relates to aprons. For me, aprons are more than an “outer garment one uses to primarily cover the front of the body.” But alas, let me say that I am nearly without words to describe the depth of happiness and fulfillment it has brought me to make them for others including some of you who will read this post.


If there is a downside, it’s that my house has been a wreck. Seriously. Sew messy. And it seems as if there hasn’t been a room in my house where the Fabric Monster hasn’t touched. Threads, pins, remnants have invaded this once fairly tidy domicile.
Since I do not have a craft room, my kitchen has served as the Command Center for this operation. One evening I took a few pictures to offer you a glimpse of the vantage point from my sewing machine. It looked worse at other times but I didn’t have the courage to capture the chaos.


To me, it looks like one of those photos you’d see in an I-Spy book. “I spy with my little eye an orange dinosaur…” (I made dinosaur aprons) or “I spy with my little eye a Christmas ornament in a box…” (I personalized an ornament for a friend). We have a beautiful new room outside of our kitchen and to the Hubs’ chagrin, the ironing board became a new piece of furniture. It didn’t exactly match with the existing decor but I’ve had no choice.


And then there’s Tess. Tess is the name of my dress form. When my oldest OS returned home from West Point for Christmas Break, I asked him if he had met Tess. He said no and when I introduced them to each other, he told me I was seriously freaking him out.

At this moment, our house is less cluttered as my apron making frenzy has calmed down. I am proud of myself for working hard and so happy to being slightly relaxed until Wednesday…aka Christmas Cookie Making Time!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sew not happening

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Ok, I’m sitting here watching the Army/Navy game. I am so not an athletic person but this is one game where I attempt to pay attention in the warm comfort of my home. I find myself crying at nearly every military commercial the television station runs.


And I’m making aprons. From about 5 in the morning, my little sewing machine is stitching away.

I pride myself on raising three godly OS who love Jesus and remember to put the toilet seat down after using it. My OS can cook, do laundry and iron. Not joyfully, mind you but nonetheless, they are developing into capable, competent men.

But apparently they have limits and they aren’t going to budge.

Don’t ask me why but I was cutting fabric to make some snake aprons (a future blog post to be sure) and I blithely ask my middle OS and my orange-haired, freckle faced OS a question which will live in infamy…

“Do you think that you guys would ever be interested in learning how to sew?” I inquire.

Aaron squirms and suddenly announces an urgent need to use the bathroom.

And without forethought or hesitation, with nary a consideration about how his precious mother might feel, my 13 year old Ike states, “I’d rather be castrated!”


Allrighty then, I guess that closes that subject! I didn’t think either one of them would be interested but it’s been confirmed, it ain’t happening.

My oldest OS is applying for some exciting overseas opportunities with West Point. They would take him far, far from home and be ridiculously exciting.

But then I had an idea…I told him that I was pretty sure there was going to be an exciting opportunity aka AIAD here in our neck of the woods. And you know what he said,

“Yeah but I heard it involves aprons so I’m not interested!”


How do you like that? Hmphf!

Boys will be boys. I will sew solo, get it?

Sew blessed

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Since I will never have a daughter, I have missed out on shopping sprees for dresses. I’m not complaining or feeling sorry for myself, it’s just a fact. I have also missed temper tantrums, crying fits with a moody daughter who can’t find anything to wear which is totally fine with me. Since I’m wildly crazy about my OS, I don’t spend a lot of time lamenting the fact that I don’t have a daughter, I just yank up my big girl panties and move on. Sorry for that word picture.


But in lieu of dress shopping, I have the privilege of guy shopping. Recently my OS Aaron announced to me, “Mom, you have to take me shopping!” I wasn’t sure of the reason until I inquired. That’s when Aaron emphatically reminded me of the Snow Ball, his school’s upcoming dance. It was like a V-8 moment…you know where the guy gets whacked up the side of the head? How could I forget?

However as soon as my 15 year old OS told me that, I also translated his sentence. Really what he was saying is, “Mom, I need for you to buy me some new clothes for the dance.” That’s when I asked my son, “Aaron, with what am I going to buy you some new clothes? I’m not sure we have the money for that.”

I could see that he was dejected but attempted to understand. I felt badly because I desperately wanted to do this for him.

That’s when I started to pray. “Lord, help me find a way to get Aaron some new clothes for the Snow Ball.”

I didn’t tell the Hubs of my prayer, it was just between God and me. I didn’t tell my friends so they would feel indebted to buy an apron so Aaron could have a new pair of pants or a sweater. I kept it just between the two of us, the Lord and myself. And do you know what happened? He heard my prayer, as He always does and this time, He honored it with a yes. In a week’s time, I had enough apron orders that I was able to say to my boy, “Aaron, I’m going to take you shopping and buy you some clothes with the apron money I earned this week.”


So last Saturday I took my middle OS out to lunch (used a coupon) and then we went shopping (with a coupon.) Our time was even more blessed because of who got us there (the Lord) and why (sweet folks wanting an apron). In my wildest dreams and prayers, never did I imagine that God would bless me so richly through aprons of all things!

The hugs and love my OS lavished upon me were reward enough. We had silly times as we tried to find pants that fit his trim frame and less than tall stature. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The pants were too big or too long, nearly impossible to get the perfect size but alas we found a handsome outfit worthy of my boy! We left the store excited about the upcoming dance and envisioned all the ladies swooning around him as they admired his muscles, beauty and fancy new threads! HA!


I have been sewing like a crazy woman. My sewing machine is whirrrrrring all the time. There is fabric strewn throughout the house and I’m having a blast helping my family and being creative. The Lord truly does give us the desires of our heart and this moment with Aaron is one of many blessings I’ve received through His goodness manifested in APRONS. More to come, I can’t wait to tell you more stories like this!