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Cancer Quilts

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I am going to do a shameless plug right now for my Etsy shop, but it is for a good cause. Most of the orders I get in my shop are for custom quilts. Because I spend so much time communicating back and forth with my clients to make their quilt exactly what they want, I have developed some very good relationships and true friendships with a number of my clients. In September, I met Tiffany who was ordering a quilt for her niece who was about to have a baby. During the course of our conversations back and forth, I learned that Tiff had spent the last 15 months in the hospital and was dying from cancer that had spread to every part of her body.  I want to take another message sometime to tell you more about Tiff because I have never met such a special, inspiring person in my entire life.

I specialize in signature quilts, mostly for wedding and baby showers in lieu of a guestbook, but around Thanksgiving I sent Tiff a cancer quilt to snuggle up with during chemo treatments and for people to sign to encourage her as she battles cancer.  I have heard that they call her “Linus” because she takes it with her everywhere and is very protective of it, making sure it never gets dirty. That makes me smile. She is so special that every inch of it is covered with signatures, Bible verses and words of encouragement to remind her of how loved she is. Since then, her health has declined considerably and at this point the doctors are trying to keep her as comfortable as possible.

In my life, I have seen so many people battle cancer and have lost loved ones to it myself.  When I was nine, I lost my grandfather to cancer.  He was only 59 and my hero, and twenty-three years later, I miss him so. Also, a little over three years ago, I lost my mother-in-law, Ruth, to cancer at the age of 56. She was an amazing woman as well and spent the last two years of her life using her illness as a huge ministry to lead others to Christ.  She truly knew what it meant, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In the last few months of her life she talked so much about heaven and couldn’t wait to meet her Savior face to face.

I have started offering cancer quilts in my shop because this is such a special thing to me. If you cannot afford the price I have listed, I am more than happy to work with what you feel you can afford. I am also willing to do donations. Also, I portion of what I make from these quilts will go to a cancer research center that is based where I just moved from in Erie, PA.

Cancer has touched so many of our lives that I really want to be able to encourage those who are going through this to help support them and their families as they face such a difficult time.

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Drab to Fab: A Desk Make Over

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This is Desk. She is from Pennsylvania and she loves sitting in the corner, holding pictures and acting as a drop-off center from time to time of loose change and keys.  In her spare time she acts as a buffet for dinner parties. She is here with us today because she needs a make-over.  She is ready to shed her dull lackluster brown facade and step into something a little more bold and lively. Let’s welcome her, shall we….?

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I love nothing more than a good makeover story. When we bought this house two months ago, I fell head-over-heels for the character it oozed from every nook and cranny. It is an old Victorian home, a restoration itself, and the people who set about restoring her to her original glory really kept true to her Victorian roots. All of the dark, mahogany woodwork has been kept untouched and the dark wood floors are spread throughout our main floor. I adore it! The only setback is, with so much dark wood things can look a little drab.  After spending months trying to paint our other home in preparation to sell it, the last thing I wanted to do was to pick up another roller and start on this one, as least not for a few months. In comes this desk. It is old and even missing a support section that connect the two legs, but I have always loved the character of this desk. She has served our family well over the years, but she has not aged well. She needed a face-lift. 

Like all of my other tutorials, this is cheap and easy. And, I got what I needed from The Dollar Tree. 

Supplies:

1.Pretty contact paper (they always have this pattern at the Dollar Tree, no matter what store I have gone to).

2.Latex paint

3.Medium sandpaper

4.Metallic spray paint

I started off by removing the hardware on the drawers and spraying them with silver metallic spray paint and set them aside to dry.  Then I cut the contact paper to fit the size of the drawer. This only took one roll of the paper to cover them all. A dollar! Score!

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Then I painted it with the latex paint. It only took about two layers of paint. Since I love the “distressed” look, I went through the process of carefully rubbing off some of the paint on the corners and edges to age it a little bit.

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And, there you have it! It took me only about and hour and a half, beginning to end. Not bad. Not bad at all. 

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Cheap and Chic

 

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I have four birthdays coming up in the next week for my family and friends. FOUR! I have been scrambling the last few weeks to try to come up with cheap, fun, and personal gifts for all of those on my list. So, of course I have been scrounging around on Pinterest, trying to find cute, easy gifts to make or buy. I found some cute things like DIY coasters and candle holders, but they lacked pizzazz! Then I saw these really pretty ribbon necklaces and as soon as I saw them I knew I could make them without a tutorial (yeah, I’m THAT good and I’m sure you probably are, too). These necklaces only cost me $3 and ten minutes to make. Yep! THREE DOLLARS and TEN MINUTES. And I found all of the supplies I needed at, where else, the Dollar Tree.

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1.Spool of satin ribbon of your choice.

2.Silk Flower

3. Button (optional). The ones I used were ones I already had

4.Large plastic beads

5.Glue gun

Again, this is so simple, I’m sure anyone could figure out how to do this themselves, but humor me. First, I cut out my ribbon about as long as I wanted it to be to hang around my neck as well as some extra to be able to tie it in the back. I won’t give you a specific length because everyone will have their own preference regarding that. Then, I started stringing the beads on using a larger embroidery needle. This took a little patience and some elbow grease to string them on. I found it was easier to string if you just put the corner of the ribbon through the eye of the needle rather than the whole ribbon.

ImageI strung eleven on altogether. Then I took a silk flower and pulled off the stem and middle of it and hot glued a sparkly button onto the middle of it. Bam! Glam! Then I glued the flower onto the ribbon, pulling one bead to the side so it was. And, there you have it. It seriously took me all of ten minutes to make each one of these. One for my sister and one for my best friend.

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Picture This

I have always loved painting murals and have often dreamed about making a career out of it. I have done enough thus far that I have an extensive portfolio, though little to show for it since most of my work has been done “for a good cause” and not for any real money.  But, it’s good experience none-the-less and it’s really therapeutic for me, so I’m probably saving money in the long run! I’m painting instead of paying someone to sit on their couch and tell them my list of woes. Anyway, I wanted to share a project I am working on now for our church nursery and I admit this is mostly for the benefit of my mom (hi mom!) who was trying to look at these via my phone and couldn’t see them very well. It’s not the Sistine Chapel….but, I hope you enjoy it just the same.

I was inspired by the “Sheep in a Jeep” books by Nancy Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. She has a whole series of these books and they are some of my favorites to read to my girls, not only because they are simple and not too long, but they are clever and the illustrations are hilariously adorable! So, I had this big idea to do “sheep in a park” and have imagined all of the ways I can portray them having a tea party, playing checkers, feeding the pigeons, taking walks, kids doing hopscotch….My imagination has gone wild with all of the things I could do, considering the room I am working in is rather large. Here are two that I have started thus far:

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My goal is to always make my scenes look like snapshots of photos.

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I hope I have succeeded! There will be more to come soon….

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DIY Wreath

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I am so cheap. I really am. I am that person that goes to the Salvation Army on half-off Wednesdays and agonizes about whether I should buy that really cute sweater that is $3 (and that is before the discount is taken off). Yep-that’s me.  So when I go to those major craft stores and browse all of their delightfully cheery Springtime decor, dreaming about what it would look like in my home and see a $40 price tag for a door wreath-well, my cheap heart practically goes into cardiac arrest.  This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I have to say this: I believe it is a complete deception and misnomer is a store calls itself a “dollar store” when everything in it is not a dollar. It’s just not right. This is why I love the Dollar Tree. I spend much more time and money there than any human being should, but can you blame me? Did you hear me say “EVERYTHING IS A DOLLAR!”?!

So, I picked up a few things from there today to make this wreath for my front door which was looking so shamefully naked and immodest. I spent six dollars-YUP- SIX dollars and ten minutes on this wreath.

The Dollar Tree has a great selection of silk flowers that I think are pretty. I picked up an assortment of ones I liked and thought would look nice together, along with a bare craft wreath and a spool of tulle in their wedding section (yeah-they even have a wedding section!).

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Then I went to work cutting the flowers from their stems to a more manageable length to work with (about 4 inches) with my trusty pair of wire cutters.

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I then glued the leaves of them to the base of the flower head and glued under the leaves and inserted them as I pleased through the wreath. This is the best part-arranging them however you feel like it and nobody can stop you. 😉

Here is our door all gussied up and ready for Spring. We just bought our house a couple of months ago and fell in love with all of it’s charm and character, this gorgeous front door being part of that.

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I chose to leave some space about 2/3 of the way from the top to let the twigs show, but I also made another one for the Fall and glued the whole way around. The girls helped me with this one (also made with stuff from the Dollar Tree):

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And here is one we made for Christmas:

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See? The possibilities are endless!

And I even had a lot of flowers left over to bring Spring inside the house as well!

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Patching Things Up

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I cannot count the number of times I have picked the girls up from preschool to find the knees of their jeans fully of holes that were not there when I dropped them off in the morning.  They are tough on their pants. I have seen them at recess crawling on their hands and knees across the parking lot (which is coned off during school hours) and I know they play hard as well in their classroom. At home they love to pretend to be dogs, cats, lions, babies, or any other living species that crawls on all fours.  With both of my girls being the exact same size, we go through pants even quicker.  Just look at them (and this isn’t even all of them!).

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Call me cheap or old-fashioned or both, but I was not about to spend fifteen dollars a pair on new jeans for them to put holes in them again within a week and would grow out of in six months. So this was my solution: fix them with cute heart patches that could easily be replaced if they needed to be. 

It is so simple to do and I think they turned out really cute! Here’s what you need:

*Holey jeans (CHECK!)

*Felt (about 30cents/piece at Walmart)

*Embroidery floss

*Fabric glue (optional)

*Cookie cutter for template 

This is so simple it’s a little ridiculous that I am doing a tutorial for it, because I’m pretty sure anyone could figure this out for themselves. But aren’t those projects the best? The ones with so little to think about and very few steps? It only took me about 15 min/patch. First, I used my heart-shaped cookie cutter to trace on my felt piece and cut out two.

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Again, I am more than sure you can make your own template but this is just what I did. Then, I used some fabric glue to glue each heart over the holes, but this is optional.

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It just helped keep them in place while I sewed them on using a blanket stitch.Image

Aaaand, that about covers it!

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You Can Have All This World

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It was one of those days; you know the kind I am talking about. The sun was shining brightly through my bedroom morning to greet me with a cheery hello; Spring birds were chirping merrily outside the window. My husband, Sam, greeted me with a sweet “good morning” and a kiss on the cheek.  How could a day that started out so gloriously beautiful turn sour? I can’t tell you how naively I believe this every morning when I get up to pray to God, petitioning Him to turn my “tests into a testimony” and seeing every trial, frustration, or painful moment as an opportunity to point other to Him. Yep. EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. This is my prayer. And guess what happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY? Well, He answers my prayers for sure.  As I got out of bed, the incessant pounding from the room down the hall and the high-pitched shrieks had a way of drowning out my morning serenade and my thoughts of “glorifying God in every situation”.  The sunshine was quickly overshadowed by feelings of irritation and discouragement.  My girls are both five and a half now and they have never been “easy” children.  When people tell me about how their kids took a tantrum in the middle of the store “for at least five minutes” or wrote on the wall with crayon, I laugh. Let me give you a little insight into my two bundles of joy (and they really are!). One of them as a baby would make herself throw up when she didn’t get her way; she ate a puzzle piece at three rather than put it away like I told her to; it took me a full year to potty train her just because she refused to do it; at four we had a 7 hour stand-off (yeah!) just because she refused to settle for a nap; and she still throws tantrums for two hours some days until her nose bleeds and the house literally shakes and the dishes rattle in the cupboards; she rips apart or destroys things for spite when she is mad at me;she will take about 45 min to get dressed in the morning just to make the rest of us wait for her.  My other daughter used to scream for about eight hours a day straight for the first seven months of her life and would not settle down until about midnight every night and would still be up two hours in the middle of the night; she would throw fits for an hour or two, but thankfully, has since settled down; she has scribbled on, torn up, ripped apart, or just destroyed lots of things in our house just for fun or mischief.

Now, I am not trying to just complain about my girls, just give you a glimpse into our every day life. I pray for, over, and with the girls every day that God will use their strong wills for His glory, and I have complete confidence that He will. If they can use their “powers” for good, look out world! I have taught elementary and preschool classes, as well as have worked with teens a lot over the years and few can rival my girls in spirit and determination. But, every morning, every day is a challenge.

Yesterday was one of those days. We are down to one vehicle and my husband needed to get to work, I needed to run errands, the kids didn’t have preschool, we had people coming over and I didn’t have dinner planned or the house cleaned and I had orders to fill…..Do you see where this is going?  So, I will say it again: it was one of THOSE days.  The kind where I wanted to rewind the whole day and go back to birds chirping, sun-shining, husband snuggling, and optimism for the day; and I wanted to stay there.  I wanted to take back my prayer for God to use those trials as opportunities. I wanted my optimistic prayer to sound something more like, “God, please, let my kids behave today. Let my house be magically clean when I get out of bed.  Let me be “I dream of Jeanie” for one day where all I have to do is scrunch up my hose and nod my head and everything will magically be okay.”  I can’t tell you how many times after I say “Amen” that I hear the kids start screaming, or jumping on their beds, or yelling at each other down the hall.  It’s like magic.  It really is.

I will spare all the gory details of what “that day” was really like, I will just say that there were lots of tears, yelling, screaming, pouting faces, dirty looks and tantrums that happened, and I would like to say it was all the kids who did those things.  Sadly, it was not.  I got to the point where I was hiding in the bathroom, door locked, trying to count backwards from ten and remember the prayer I had prayed, “that all trials would be opportunities to point others to You”.  I often forget that I have a mission field right here in these four walls. One of my girls seems to rebel against the things of God just like she rebels against everything else.  Her main goal in life seems to be to do things her way and the complete opposite way of everyone else.  The verse in Philippians two that says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” popped into my head.  I can admit to you, quite ashamedly, that I had most definitely NOT conducted myself in a manner worthy of Christ.  I had failed miserably in showing my girls the grace of God that He shows me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

While I was huddling in the bathroom I asked myself why I was doing what I was doing.  As a mom sometimes I ask myself this question, “If no one notices or cares what I do, why am I doing it?” I know that question comes straight from the Enemy because every time that question slithers through my mind it is like a deadly poison; it is the time I want to throw in the towel and have my hand on the doorknob ready to walk away from everything I have.  Then, just as the Enemy is quick at my side with lies to discourage, my God, my Rock, Savior never fails to remind me of Truth.

For our Easter service we had listened to an adaptation of Christ’s journey from the Garden of Gethsemane to His crucifiction. It made me sob, remembering what Christ had done for me; what Love, beyond all human comprehension, it took to take away my sins.  The narrator talks about how every person who spat upon Him, who pounded a crown of deep thorns into His brow, who lashed Him repeatedly until He was too weak to walk, and drove nails into His wrists and ankles were given the ability because of Him. In a word, He could have made it all go away.  He chose not to; for me. For ME.

It puts things into perspective for me a little bit. Here I was, ready to throw in the towel for tantrums, nasty faces, and disrespect; He didn’t turn away from me for doing ALL of those things a million times over and more to Him.

So, you can have all this world; a perfect life, perfect children, a perfect home- but give me Jesus.

 

Here is the link to that narration.  I urge you to listen to it whether you are a believe in Christ or not. Make sure you have tissues on hand.

http://www.sovgracemn.org/_files/2010_04_02GF.mp3