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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Appreciation of Beauty

In my Bible reading this morning, I read 1 Kings 7, where the author is writing about all the details of the building of the temple. Something that stood out to me was the attention paid to the details in the Holy of Holies, where only God would see the bronze work. Cedar pomegranates, gourds, lilies, and latticework covered in gold were all a part of the temple.

So when we paint, or garden, or dance, or write, or sing, or sew, or cook, or carve, even when no one else sees or notices or appreciates, God sees and God cares. God wanted there to be golden lilies in the Holy of Holies where only He would see. So we can do all things to His glory. For whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31. 

God cares about all of it. And that is both sobering and fulfilling.




Valley of Vision

The Valley of Vision is an amazing collection of Puritan prayers that encourages me greatly by reminding me of the faith of past saints in Christ.

LORD, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see you in the height;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is the wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the well, the bright thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
                  
                    Amen.




Progress on Baby Sophisticate

I have made progress on Baby Sophisticate. I need to go get my size 7 double pointed needles in order to knit the sleeves, so it is temporarily waiting. 

I only have the collar and sleeves! I need to go find some little gentleman buttons. The buttons I have just don't seem boyish enough to me. Besides, a shawl collar baby sweater seems to need some old fashioned leather buttons. 



Happy Knitting!

College Omelet Recipe (playing house continued)

I realized how much I have missed having omelets everyday which I did during the school year. I was so consistent that I would just walk into the dining hall and Ms. Chavis would see me and go ahead and fix my omelet before I even got to her station. Peppers, spinach, and cheese omelet. Everyday. All year. And I loved it. My breakfast buddy thought I was crazy, but every morning she had difficulty picking something different or creative, whereas I was totally happy with what I knew was good. I love trying new foods, but you could never be sure about trying new food at the cafeteria. :) 

So I made my own version of the college omelet with what was in the refridge. 

Ingredients:
two eggs
bell pepper
green onion
shredded cheese
salsa
garlic
olive oil
pepper
any other veggies in the refridge that you want to add

Mince the bell pepper, green onion, and garlic so that you have about a handful of small pieces to sprinkle. You don't want huge chunks of veggies in your omelet, but you want them there. 

Scramble eggs in a bowl until frothy while the olive oil in the skillet is heating over medium heat. Grind some pepper in the pan before adding the eggs.

Pour eggs into heated pan. Sprinkle the minced bell pepper, green onion, and garlic onto half of the omelet. Sprinkle cheese on top of this. Spread about a tablespoon or so of salsa on top of the cheese. 

Let cook until the eggs are almost entirely set. Fold in half, let sit for about 30 more seconds, remove from pan, and enjoy!




I originally had pulled mushrooms out of the refridge to add to the omelet, but then decided that I really don't like them, so why add them to my yummy omelet? 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Easter Dress Redo

 Several years ago, I randomly decided I wanted a new Easter dress. The day before Easter. I had a pattern, so I made a quick trip to Joanne's Fabrics and bought this fabric. Isn't it pretty? It's a linen blend and feels great in the warm months of summer.

I think that was three or four years ago. Needless to say, as much as I loved that dress, it didn't fit anymore. I could get into it, but then I would be stuck. The pattern was decided to just pull over your head, so there wasn't a zipper or anything to help me get out. But I still loved the fabric, so I decided to cut off the skirt and make a fun, swingy skirt out of it. 


I cut the skirt off the bodice. 


I sewed elastic into the waist. It kind of fits, but it didn't work out smoothly (hence the lack of picture). I need to find a seam ripper (which isn't at my current sewing location) and have a second try. 

Also, I was disappointed by how it didn't swing like I wanted. I think I may have to my a tulle underlining for it to poof the way I envision it should. In my head, I have this idea that it could be like an outfit from the 50s with a full skirt, a pale pink shirt with ties, a pair of heels, and a string of pearls. It would be cute for an afternoon out for an old fashioned picnic or for church. 

So, still have to finish this one. :) 

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Being Rebuilt


I used to pass this house every day on my way to work over Christmas break. The top porch was caving, the windows were boarded up, the whitewash was peeling, and it echoed with what once had been.

Even though I knew it was an area of town that was being turned from old farmhouses to new subdivisions, I wished that it could have been renovated and returned to its past, homey glory.

When we feel like this house, unwanted, abandoned, broken, God is working on us. He is the architect that has all the master plans. As He strips us of the broken parts, like someone gutting an old house, we must remember, He has plans for us. Plans we don't understand. He doesn't leave us in disrepair, but takes us through the process of being rebuilt. Even through the pain and ache of it.

Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

God sings over us with joy. How beautiful and encouraging is that? The trials in our lives are refining fires, yes, and we can trust Him because He not only knows His plans, but He loves us with incredible power. He loved us to send His Son, Jesus, to die to pay the penalty of my sin and break its power. He will love me still. 

So my prayer is this: 
God, give me faith as you rebuild me. Remind me of your singing. Remind me that you rejoice in me. Remind me that you are the architect and I am the house. Let me not forget that. Amen.

Maxi Skirt (No Pattern!)

So the fabric I bought for the jumpsuit from the 1960s (here). . . well, the jumpsuit didn't happen. I realized it would require a lot more time than I had and as a moving-around college girl, a huge stash of fabric that I'm saving for "one day" when I'll have a ton of time of my hands is a bad idea. 

So I decided to make on of the super comfortable and wearable maxi skirts that I've been seeing everywhere. :) I used a maxi skirt from my closet, or rather, my suitcase, to figure out how long I need to cut my fabric. 






I made the skirt last night in probably less than an hour and I wore it today with a basic black shirt, a fun hat, and a belt from my grandmother. This will be a fun piece that I can wear now, but also in the fall with leggings and boots to keep warm. 

Happy Monday!

Chicken Pad Thai Recipe

Chicken Pad Thai: 

Ingredients:
2 chicken breast
1 package of snow peas
half a can of bamboo shoots
package brown rice noodles
handfull of chopped, unsalted peanuts

sauce:
3 tbsp peanut butter
6 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp brown sugar

Saute chicken in a splash of sesame seed oil until it is thoroughly cooked through but still moist. Cut into bit size pieces. Toss snow peas, chopped peanuts, and bamboo shoots into the pan. 

In a separate boil, mix together peanut butter, sesame seed oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Pour over chicken mixture in the pan. 

Cook brown rice noodles according to directions on box. Serve the chicken pad thai over the rice noodles. 

Enjoy!



Pad thai is a great building block recipe. You can add all sorts of vegetables that you have on hand and you can use chicken, shrimp, or possibly pork (never tried it that way, but I'm sure it's possible). The chopped peanuts add some great texture. Pad thai is probably one of my favorite dishes, so it was fun to make some last night. 

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Knitting and Cooking Progress (More Playing House)

Yesterday I was able to knit several inches on my Baby Sophisticate sweater. Only two more inches of the body, then I'll just have the sleeves and collar left to knit. This pattern seems to run pretty small, so I'm glad I made the bigger size. I doubt it will fit the request for a 18 month size, but it will be a cute little gentleman sweater for someone's 6-12 month old. The button band will add a few more inches around, so it may be too early to judge.




I also made a fun new dinner (kind of). I roasted romaine lettuce in a cast iron skillet with olive oil, drizzled it with balsamic vinaigrette, and sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese. I served this with a few slices of a crusty Italian bread with spaghetti. 




I had tried to have some friends for dinner (food almost always tastes better with company) but it didn't work out. I'm going to be eating leftovers tomorrow. :) I ended up eating this by myself with the dog I'm watching and just having a relaxing evening before heading out to see a Christian Youth Theater Spiritual Twist production of Rapunzel. 

The play was a very encouraging reminder of waiting patiently for the Lord, trusting Him to guide and direct our steps, and that He is the only One we truly need. 


I hope you all are having a good week. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gift Apron and Playing House

The blue and yellow floral apron is from my great aunt Becky. I am guessing that it is from anywhere between the 30s and the 50s, but if anyone knows this fabric and can give a better ballpark for how old this apron is, that'd be great.



I made a similar apron following the original's design from the vegetable fabric I bought at the Scrap Exchange. 



I visited with my parents this week, as well, and my mom told me she recognized the vegetable print. She said that her mom had stayed at home while she was little and to save money, Grandma was sewing some shorts for my mom and aunt. Out of this fabric. With turnips, carrots, eggplants, and everything. Mom and my aunt were crying and complaining about having to keep trying on things for my grandma to size them. Grandma asked them if they'd rather her stay at home and put up with homemade clothes or her go back to work. They decided they'd rather have her at work than have to go out in public in turnip shorts. 

I hope the turnip fabric will work better as an apron than as those ill-fated shorts. I think I will save it to give away, but it would be fun to cook with.


My mom also loaned me the book "How to Sew a Button: and other nifty things your grandmother knew, a money-saving, heartwarming, life-simplifying guide" by Erin Bried. The book is begins with a chapter called "Meet the Grandmothers," all of whom lived through the Great Depression and so approach homemaking with great economy. This book has everything from how to kill a chicken, swaddle a baby, polish your nails, garden, sooth a cold, to how to tie your husband's tie. 

I'm house sitting this week, so I get to play house and have space to cook and sew and such. My plans for cooking this week so far are spaghetti and meatballs (using my grandmother's amazing recipe), pad thai, and coffee cheesecake (recipe from my best friend's grandmother). Pictures of food and recipes will follow. 

In a few weeks, I will be back on campus and living in a dorm. Thankfully, this dorm has a kitchen downstairs, so I will be able to keep cooking. I'll probably end up with a lot of easy, one-pot cooking. It will be an interesting adventure hauling all my supplies and ingredients from my room to the kitchen, but it will be totally worth it to get a break from dining hall food. 

Please share your favorite recipes and family cooking stories. Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thrifted Thursday

Last Saturday, I got to help with a fundraising church yard sale. Here are a few of the treasures I found:



The skirt fit perfectly. It makes lots of noise as I walk because it has bangles, beads, stones, and little mirrors sewn onto it. And it only cost me $1.50! 


I also found this coffee grinder, which will be helpful next year in the dorm (as in less than three weeks!) 


I also got to go visit my grandparents, aunt, and cousins in Virginia with my sisters yesterday. 





My sisters were great travel companions and it was good to get some sister time just talking and singing and getting lost in the mountains on a gravel road. My littlest sister kept saying, "I know where we are! I've seen that bush on that steep hill." She kept seeing rhododendrons growing on the mountainside, which is everywhere in that area. 

I hope you all are doing well and having a blessed Thursday.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Almost Finished In Threes Baby Cardigan

After church and a donation drive today and being outside hauling stuff in the heat for a few hours, I got to sit for a few minutes in the air conditioning, drink my favorite ginger tea, and work on knitting my In Threes Baby Cardigan. I have only a few rows left! 

The wood from the table that I took these pictures on is over two hundred years old. You can see the grooves of the old time of wood mill on the boards. And the peaches are ripening. :)




I am continuing to investigate other patterns, mainly for boys, but also something new for the girls. Here are a few of my favorites (pictures courtesy of Ravelry). 




These two sweaters are both knit from the Puerperium Cardigan from Kelly Brooker (free in the newborn size). Aren't they darling? It is a top-down constructions and it is designed to be easy to get on and off baby so that you don't have to wiggle a squirmy baby into a sweater over his head. 



The second sweater I've been seriously considering is Baby Sophisticate by Linden Heflin (free in the smallest two sizes.)Baby Sophisticate looks perfect for any little man, so I think I will definitely be making this one.  

Here is one more pattern I'm looking at, the Ribbed Baby Jacket by Debbie Bliss (free download from Ravelry). 





What are the easiest handmade things to receive or make for your babies? Favorite low-maintenance baby gifts to give? Please comment below with your go-to baby projects.

I hope you all are keeping cool in this heat. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Threes Baby Cardigan and Yarn Love

Here is the progress I have made of the first of this series of baby sweaters. 

It is a 0-6 month baby sweater from the In Threes Baby Cardigan pattern from Kelly Herdrich, who blogs at kellywithoutanet.wordpress.com. I am using a lovely worsted weight merino superwash from Plymouth Select. I just went and found my label hoping I could share with you the pretty color name, but it is just called 15. The color is a rich, winey-plum purple. The fabric created is soft and perfect for being worn on a baby. It can be machine washed and dried which is great for a new mom. 



Last Sunday I purchased this yarn at Downtown Knits in Apex, NC along with several other skeins of gorgeous yarn and a handful of buttons for these baby sweaters. 


This is another color of the Plymouth Select Worsted Merino Superwash for a baby boy sweater. It looks like a perfect blue jean color. The color is 22. 


I also got my first Spud and Chloe Sweater by Blue Sky Alpacas. It is 55% superwash wool and 45% organic cotton. The yarn is incredibly soft and handles well. I can't wait to knit with it. I'm planning on making a toddler girl's sweater. Spud and Chloe has a blog at www.spudandchloe.com/blog. It is a fun blog to peruse with plenty of color inspiration for children's knits. 


I also found some Berroco Vintage yarn in a dusty aqua for a toddler boy's sweater. This yarn is 50% acrylic, 40% wool, and 10% nylon. It is also machine washable (again, great for moms with busy, messy kids). 


These are the buttons I chose to go with the sweaters. 

I am still researching what pattern I want to use for my baby boy and toddler boy sweaters. The In Threes Baby Cardigan is precious, but so sweetly feminine. If any of you have a favorite, go-to baby boy sweater pattern, just leave a comment below!

Also, the Scrap Exchange is having a Knit Night tonight from 6:30-8:30 for all you local knitters and crocheters. I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thrifted Fabric and the Scrap Exchange

Yesterday, I went to the Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit creative reuse center in Durham, North Carolina whose mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse. I had an amazing experience. After looking at all the interesting pieces of metal and plastic, packages of glass bottles, an old Hammond B Organ, an out-of-tune piano, records, calendars, and "wood sticks looking for a new purpose," I found the fabric section. 

It was so exciting! The rolls of fabric were beautiful and quirky and everything in between. I found some great fabric that I bought, a vintage pattern from the 60s, a zipper for 50¢, and thread for 75¢. 



The tree fabric is a thicker, canvas-y (not quite) cotton that would be perfect for a kid's play blanket or a picnic blanket. I think I'm going to find another fabric, either waterproof, or something like that, and edge it with bias tape to make a fun picnic blanket. I imagine it would be a great blanket to take out to the mall (the central green area on campus) and hang out with friends and eat a picnic lunch. 



My friend, Martha, actually was the one to spot the filing cabinet stuffed full of vintage sewing patterns and found this beauty. This was made back when patterns came in one size, so I'll probably have to do some adjustments with that. The sizes also seem to run really small to me (even for sewing sizes). Isn't the hair great? I want to make the one in the middle, though my pant legs will probably be slightly slimmer. I think I could dress the jumpsuit up with pearls and heels and cute hair, but generally (at least now), jumpsuits are worn more casually with flip flops or sandals. 



I also found half a yard of this really fun vegetable print (I know, I'm crazy). I think it could make a sunshiney apron and could make a unique housewarming gift. The colors of the vegetables just really pop. 


This rose pattern is also about half a yard. I'll probably make an apron with it, as well. 

Right now, I'm working on figuring out how to use the sewing machine that I am borrowing from a friend, so until I get it figured out, I'll be working on my knitting. 

I'm knitting another In Threes Baby Sweater, for 0-6 months in a dark winey-purple, with new yarn from Downtown Knits in Apex, NC. Pictures will follow shortly.

Happy Wednesday!