Saturday, July 23, 2011

Value Village Find

We are avid "VV Boutique" (or "Waloo Willaaage") shoppers, and yesterday I was tickled to find this t-shirt:

I liked the naming of me, but what tickled me most is the place it was made:

What fun to think it will travel back to its place of origin with me this summer!

Summer Planning

One creative way to plan for the summer (DH's idea) . . . even if our lists are a tad unbalanced ;)

Alas, the summer months are slipping by so quickly and only a few stickies have been removed. Of course, we always shoot ourselves in the foot by making our lists so long every. single. summer.

How do you plan for the summer? How do you ensure that your goals are realistic?

Memory Making Molds that Jiggle with Joy

As you may know, I'm always on the lookout for fun, creative ways to make memories with my children. So when Ann Voskamp included this idea in her post about what to do on the hot, dry days, I decided to give it a try. Who'd-a-thunk you could bring such jiggly joy to children with these materials?

Juiced orange and lemon rinds became the molds for a rainbow of jellos (muffin tins supported the rounded bottoms so they wouldn't tip while setting) . . .

but first, the freshly squeezed juice had to be enjoyed . . .

. . . in casual, summery canning jars . . .

. . . with star-shaped ice . . .

. . . oh -- and some lemon water for me -- also with star-shaped ice, of course :)

The whole juicing process took MUCH longer than I anticipated, so we were anxious for the jello to set quickly. I thought the freezer would do the trick -- except I forgot about them, so they got a little frosty. Ooops!

But they still turned out quite delightfully:

 They sure didn't last long! Even Grandma enjoyed a few!

What creative ways have you found to make sweet summer memories? Please share your own ideas or ones you've found online in the comments below:)

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

From Dress to Tote

Some of you may remember me telling you about this dress . . .

that I used to customize this journal . . .

and how I wanted to use more of the dress fabric to make a tote for my daily reading and writing books. Well, last night and this morning, I got that task checked off my summer to-do list!

I was inspired by this bag -- which I think is genuinely vintage, and which I love, but is falling apart. (Yes, I plan to repair it ;)

I don't know what's inside the vintage bag to give a bit of frame to the top, but I decided that the bottom part of two plastic hangers (I pitched the top parts) would give me the firm but flexible structure I needed:

I used these nifty tools I found on DH's workbench to cut the hangers. We'll call them "cutters" :) The black plier-like ones did the job easily, but I used the blue-handled ones to smooth the cut. I might not have needed the latter if the former were good and sharp -- which they weren't.

See the nice, sharp "mouth" there? It took away the sharp ends on my plastic rods.

It took me a while to figure out how I would gather the fabric so that it fit on the supports (I didn't want to fuss with a lot of hand sewing and gathering) -- and then I had the genius idea of using some elastic that I found in our stash of stuff:

 I've never sewn with elastic before, so I just winged it -- and it seemed to work :) All I did was stretch the elastic as I sewed, and then I folded that elasticized edge over  and sewed it down to create a pocket into which I put my hanger-bottom-plastic-rods (like the pocket you'd put a curtain rod through on sheer curtains).

 However, I guess the elastic wasn't stretched enough -- or wasn't elasticy enough -- because the sides of the bag drooped over the edges of the hanger rods:

So, I hand-stitched a double thread across the top of each side to make it all tighter (ya -- I had to resort to using my hands -- so I probably could have skipped the elastic and just hand gathered the fabric -- but I was worried the thread might break with use) -- and that seemed to do the trick! :)

I made some tube handles which I stitched down each side to make them flat:

 Once they were attached to the bag with the machine at the bottom of each handle, I had to hand stitch the top of the "pucker" (for lack of a better explanation) to the handles to make them more secure since the rods inside prevented me from using the machine (I was afraid to do it with the machine before putting in the rods lest the rods would then be blocked. If I were a more careful sewer, it probably would have worked!) :

And here we have my new tote!!!!!

I didn't have to mess with lining because the dress was already lined, and I just left that lining in place, basically just using the whole bottom of the dress for my bag :) It means the inside of the bag has some seams -- but I'm OK with that. (This photo shows the back seam of the dress and the dress hem.)

The side seams were the original ones on the dress -- I didn't sew them at all. Below is the inside front of the dress, also showing the hem.) But when all that is inside the bag -- who cares? :)

It's actually a lot bigger than I imagined -- but that's OK, too -- it holds lots!

Now my new journal -- which I love -- has its own tote -- which I also love! They make my mornings with God that much more enjoyable because they remind me of the Creator in me -- alive and working to make ME something pleasing in His sight :)

So -- that old dress that had lots of love and wear has a new lease on life :)

Have you transformed anything from your wardrobe lately? Seriously -- what could you find in your closet that is begging to be made into something different? Try it -- it's lots of fun!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Finding Our Way Again - Book Review

Finding Our Way Again:
The Return of the Ancient Practices
By Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle
Published by Thomas Nelson

It's not hard to observe that there are many people, Bible-believers included, who have lost their way spiritually. Many flounder for fulfillment in their spiritual journeys, often moving in directions that lead to dead-ends. McLaren's Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices explores some of the hows and whys of this, and suggests a number of ancient practices that can strengthen our relationship with God so that we no longer feel lost. He does not suggest that these practices are essential elements of the Christian walk, nor that they will lead us "closer" to God. He simply points out that they are tools -- some used for millenia -- that can enable us to see God in places we have, well, missed seeing Him along the way. Each chapter ends with "Spiritual Exercises" -- questions and suggestions that encourage the reader to think through and beyond the content of the chapter in order to make personal applications. The end of the book offers a chapter-by-chapter study guide that challenges the reader to explore each topic more fully, and there are also notes that enable study beyond the realm of the author's own text. 

I've never read any of Brian McLaren's work before, nor do I recall hearing anything about his books. While I found him to be a bit inclined towards discussing faith in general terms, as opposed to faith in Christ specifically, his convictions as a follower of Christ were clear, and I found myself agreeing with many of his comments about "religion" as it contrasts true faith. The beginning of most chapters seemed to rile me a bit for some reason, but I was heartily acknowledging the wisdom of his words by the end of each. I particularly appreciate the analogies he used to illustrate his points because they truly help to clarify his ideas for me. I also like the fact that his writing is scholarly, but not in a pretentious way. He presents facts and ideas about history and theology in ways that are easily accessible to the reader who may not be as well-versed in those subjects. What I like most about the book is that McLaren does not separate spiritual disciplines or practices from everyday life: he demonstrates the sacredness of all aspects of life, and challenges us to wake up and experience God moment-by-moment, day-in-and-day-out.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in historical and biblical faith practices, and to anyone that longs for a richer relationship with God.

As a member of BookSneeze, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My New Poetry/Prayer Journal

I mentioned a while ago that I actually filled up my other prayer/poetry journal and had already begun writing in a  new one. Well, the other day I took time (notice I didn't say "found time" -- I took it, with intentional force -- from the mountain of laundry that still calls my name!) to alter my new journal and make it uniquely mine.

First, here is the tip of the mountain -- consisting of the lost and found from two schools,  contents of which, once washed, will make their way to the children of San Salvador, El Salvador (the rest is in the hall outside the laundry room!):

Here is my new journal as I bought it:

I love that it has a magnetic closure flap and a plastic pocket page at the front to hold my Inspired to Action and church prayer calendars -- and a holder for my pen:

Here is the end result of mixing and matching scrapbooking paper (it has a glittery gleam to it that doesn't photograph well), pages from an old book, recent art work, a key verse, stamps, and a few embellishments -- oh, and the fabric from an old, well-loved dress that will never fit me again (that's a pledge, not a lament!):

Here's the back. I love the rich colours and velvety texture of the fabric:

And here is the rest of the dress, with which I think I will make a matching tote bag for all my daily devotional reading/writing books and paraphernalia:

What old things have become new for you lately?

What common, new things have you made uniquely yours?

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