Monday, September 6, 2010

Even in the beginnings of death there are miracles.
Our Father is the most prolific Artist with well executed brush strokes and every color in existence on his palate. He is constantly shaping, molding, creating, and using that which we have even cast aside as broken, as worthless, as hopeless. However with Him, nothing is missing, nothing is broken, nothing is worthless, and there is always hope.
It may be a word of reassurance, it may be a stranger's smile, it might be a gift unexpected, or a life prolonged even when modern medicine said there is no way for life to be sustained.
Many of you know the state of my mother's health and how she has had stage 4 breast cancer, diagnosed in 2003, which metastasized to her bone marrow. Her doctor estimated (though he did not tell her this until this past year) she would only live maybe eight months from her complete mastectomy, removing her left breast and lymph nodes.
On August 28th, her doctor, a wonderful hematologist/oncologist, told her he estimated with the rate of cell growth the cancer had made and the rate at which she has had to have units of blood because her body is no longer producing them, that she has about four to six weeks left medically speaking. One week has already passed since that day, so now it would be five to three weeks, but God is not limited by time.
After the doctor's diagnosis, which was not a complete shock, my parents decided for one last trip to the beach with us kids and grandkids before Mother became too ill to go to her favorite place on this earth. So two days later we came to the beach, where we are now spending our last night before returning home.
I would love to tell every little thing that God has done for us on this trip but there is so, so much that I don't think all of it would fit into one post that wouldn't keep my reader up for hours upon hours.
The first step was being able to come at all, but then getting a condo over Labor day weekend that fit my parents, my family of four, my grandfather, and my uncle. Then my sister and brother-in-law rented a condo in the same building for them and their two children as well as his mother and his father, who has been out on hospice and also been told he only has a short time to live. My children rode down with my parents, and Tim and I came down in our own vehicle. By the time we arrived Wednesday evening, I'd been told my aunt, her boyfriend, and my two cousins with their wives and children would be staying at another condo and going to the beach with us.
All of the sudden what was a spur of the moment thing ended up surrounding my Mother with almost all of her family for this very special week. What better place to make memories, have fun together in the pool and on the sand, to reminisce about trips past, and talk of what is to come.
There is a revival going on in Mobile, which my parents have gone to now three times. A lady there had gone through cancer herself and she gave my mother this verse that God had given her and it speaks so well of what state my mother is in now,
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us," 2Corinthians 1:9-10

Friday, May 21, 2010

Adding a Little Flair

I had a very good friend bless me with some clothes recently. I took this opportunity to experiment with embellishing and adding flair to the times to make them be as unique as me! Yes, I choose the word "unique", its a tink life afterall!
Anyhoo, the cut of shirt was already perfect. It fit me well, and even though I love black I am consciously trying to add some color to my wardrobe. All the browns and blacks and pinks need a little more vibe!
So, I took a package of Wrights hem lace in teal and did this:

I already had the perfect necklace, earrings, and bracelet and even eyeshadow, so it must have been meant to be! Now I just need the shoes, too.

Here is a closer view of the bodice. The area of the lapels had gunmetal rivets glued on and some had come off, so I pulled the rest off and covered the glue marks with the hem tape pleated every 1". Then I angled the lace while still pleating it every 1" and sewed the lace down with a tiny black zigzag stitch. With the two strips left at the very end, I cinched and gathered making the rosette which I tacked at the joining of the wrap style bodice.

The black peeping through is a camisole, not my bra, just in case you were wondering. What can I say, I have bad posture!

There was a band under the bust, so I covered it with a row of 1" pleats, sewn again with a tiny black zigzag stitch through the open work of the lace. I sewed 3/8" from the edge to give the pleats a ruffled look.
I love makeovers that cost nothing! Thank you my dear friend for gifting me with this shirt, it is so very comfortable.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Clean Is It Really?

You know how when we or our children take baths, our dead skin cells slough off and over time leave this wonderful residue behind?

As a child I remember wondering why bathtubs and towels became dirty if we were clean or became clean while using them. And I even completely understood Danny Tanner on Full House cleaning his vacuum and other cleaning utensils.
which is saying something, because his character really got on my nerves!

Nonetheless, I never thought about how nasty dirty the inside of a washing machine could be. Its not like I stick my head in it too often for an inspection. I'm not quite that OCD (there may be a thin line, but I won't point at it if you won't). I'm even blessed with a wonderful washer, a fisher & paykel ecosmart gw11.
It does so many things for me and is so easy to use that I was ecstatic on a past vacation at the beach to discover the condo had the same washer (yes, I know the OCD line is there, stop pointing already! sheesh!).

My husband does industrial electric work through a union and has had many a filthy location to work in, but this past February he began working in a steel plant. My dad even worked there for a little while when I was kid. And the only thing to say about the place is NASTY! Like all over nasty; nasty on his boots, nasty on his fire retardant clothing (apparently a must when you work near kilns larger than a Hummer), nasty on his neck, nasty on his face in a very artistic capacity, considering the safety glasses, hard hat and filtered mask he wears. So, as I said, nasty!
Of course these clothes he wears-socks, pants (thermals in the winter),underoos, tshirt, and snap button jacket-must all be washed. At first, I just couldn't seem to get his clothes clean and they, of course, smelled. Not that earthy, musky, "you turn me on" male scent either. The smell goes along with the list of nasty.
Grease Lightening became my friend for getting his clothes clean, but alas, to my horror, I discovered that the NASTY was leaving its stain behind in my washer. (Ok! now you can point out the OCD line has been crossed! I admit it, I'm compullsive!)
I tried the Tide washing machine cleaner, but it didn't do the job to get rid of the NASTY.

Here is a cutaway shot of my washing machine. This machine is different from the others I've had, in that you take off the top cap and pour the laundry soap/and Clorox down the center tube. Then you pour the fabric softener in the top cap that comes apart into two pieces. I was shocked at all the places the nasty grime had left its mark, as illustrated in the picture.

So necessity being the mother of all invention, I went back to my Old Reliable, Distilled White Vinegar.

with the help of a little friend that helps us get the grime out of fingernails after working at the steel mill, or in my case working in the garden.

There was no rocket science or even vast amounts of elbow grease to rid my washer of the NASTY. Matter of fact, its taken me twice as long to write this post as it did to clean the washing machine (my excuse being pics of Bab Saget are hard to come by)!
I simply poured distilled white vinegar into the laundry soap resevoir and in the bottom of the tub. Then I set the washer on a cycle of heavy duty and a soak with the highest level of hot water. I paused the cycle before it went into rinse mode and let it sit a while longer. After about 30 minutes, I opened the lid, took the fingernail brush and an old toothbrush to the areas of grime, including the two pieces that make up the fabric softener resevoir. Within ten minutes all the grime had been scrubbed away just like the dead skin cells left behind in the bathtub. When I was done, I simply let the washer complete the cycle and it is now as clean as the day I first used it! Take that NASTY!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How do you say goodbye?

I know most girls and women have to/had to say goodbye to their mothers at some point. Whether it be a sudden stroke, a car accident, a rampant illness, or the long process of diseases like alzheimer's, heart disease, and cancer. Most involve extraordinary pain and suffering physically and mentally. You wish your mom relief, pray for healing, and hope her strength lasts another day. Yet, you know, just as I know now, that goodbye does come. It comes shrouded in grief, horrific in stench, and black in form, robbing wherever it roams. The question is how do you make use of the golden moments alloted before death comes and your beloved life giving mother is seperated from you by the barrier between earth and heaven?

Death may have no sting but it is cruel. Seemingly more so, when it waits languidly in the shadows and you've no inkling as to when it will eventually strike.

Though I know when my mother does leave this earth, free of the monstrous cancer that has ravaged her body for over seven years, there are two things death can not take from me, too. Her love for me, her daughter, and the memories of her love.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gardening Apron Tutorial

Its that wonderful time of year! Spring is here, complete with flowers, pollen, and at the moment: rain. I love to garden and have a separate blog for that here
We are doing a lot of planting this year, trying to eventually create a cottage style garden with separate "rooms". Unfortunately for me, however, all of my gardening clothes have no pockets for my cell phone, keys to the shed, gloves, tissue (blasted allergies!), etc. So, I came up with the God idea (cause it sure wasn't my own!) to make a garden apron for all those things and then some.
WARNING: the following might seem like a long and detailed tutorial, but rather it is my inability to describe anything in few words or pictures. If I were telling you this, even over the phone, I would also include multiple hand gestures, so feel blessed to not have that to deal with as well! lol
Now, as I've mentioned before, I'm an interior design grad who loves to draw. So, as before most any sewing project, I draw out what my plan is.

For all my OCD tendencies, it was all I could do to restrain myself from making this a colored illustration! lol

Now, here are the materials I used for my project:
a linen valance 59" long by 24" wide. had two upper casings for curtain rods, and a lower casing as the hem. cost= $1.98 at the thrift store six years ago. Come on, at least I'm finally using it, Mother!

iron on interfacing (about 1/8 of a package)
coordinating fabric of my your choice
(I used a linen napkin from a pair I bought on sale for a dollar a year ago 20"w x 19 1/2"l)
one package of double fold bias quilt tape
coordinating thread
elastic approx. 1/4"-1/2"w cut into two strips about 2" long
and about two hours total (of course these two hours spread out over several days)

For my own color coordination, I chose these colors.

The first thing I had to do was remove the stitching of the two top casings with my seam ripper. I decided to leave the bottom casing and use that as the top of my apron.

This is a convenient method I've found to ripping out stubborn seams. Simply hold your forefinger under the seam, spreading it slightly apart. Then use the seam ripper to run across all the stitches exposed. It cuts out a lot of time when you have reinforced seams to rip out

Once I had ripped out all the seams I had this nice little ball of fluff. That was enough to entertain my children for a little while!

Then I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, giving me a measurement of 29 1/2" long. For me, this is a perfect length to wrap around from back of hip to back of hip, since I have a waist measurement of 36" (omg when did that happen?!) which is a comfortable span and provides maximum space for pockets.

After I had the seams ripped out of the main fabric, I made the first cuts in the napkin. I ended up with 4 strips 5"w x 19 1/2"l

I took the first strip, which already had seams on three sides, and after pressing under the raw end, I stitched it to the top portion with a zigzag stitch.

I chose to use a yellow thread in coordination with the yellow binding.

Taking one of the strips, I cut the length (length=19 1/2") in half (2 pieces=9 3/4"), then cut both of those pieces into halves, giving me four pieces (length=4 7/8"). I pressed two of the pieces with iron on interfacing. Next, I placed the interfaced pieces right sides together with the pieces without interfacing. Then, turning it right side out, I pressed the pieces and pinned them on either side of the front panel.

After sewing three sides with a zigzag stitch (and bar-tacking the four corners) I have two pockets on either side of the front panel that are approx. 4" deep. My family should be proud of my math, since it is one of my least favorite things of God's creation! lol

For my next step, I stitched the yellow double fold tape onto the bottom end of my apron with a straight stitch.

Here is the detail of the two rows of straight stitches. You could always use a double needle, but by the time I found my double needle I could've already sewn the two rows with a single needle!
Note to self: reorganize sewing supplies better!

For acurate instructions go to the ****** then return to this step.

After sewing on the binding and pressing, I folded the bottom edge up to barely cover the bottom of the front panel and two pockets in the coordinating pattern. Once I got it in the position I wanted, I ended up with a pocket depth of 8".

This is what it looked like at that point.

I then pinned the sides of the apron, and using a hem guide and a blue tailor's chalk I marked increments for more pockets. The two outer pockets I marked to be 5" wide.

Using the cardboard the quilt binding had come on, I marked the line out for the pockets. A LITTLE hint here is to not mark dark lines. I did it with the intent purpose of the lines showing up on camera, and had a bit of time and effort spent on removing lines after the fact. Just sayin'

To find the dividing line for the two inner pockets, I folded the apron in half and slid the tailor's chalk down the edge. Easiest way, instead of measuring and remeasuring. Especially if it gets me out of doing any more math!

The next step was to sew the lines. I used a straight stitch down the marked lines, but knowing these pockets would receive a lot of wear and tear, I reinforced the seams by using a decorative honeycomb stitch on each side of the straight stitch. Better safe than sorry!

Now most importantly to me was to have a pocket for my cell phone. It does so much more for me than just connect me voice to voice with people! It has a calculator (which I so need!), a clock, the date, texting, pictures for the garden, etc. So I measured my cell phone and cut out a length twice as long as I needed. Then I sewed a strip of elastic within the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch.

Sewing right sides together, turning right side out, pressing with a hot iron and sewing three sides to the farthest pocket, I had my desire. A pocket my cell phone won't fall out of and won't take me three minutes to dig the phone out only to answer a missed call!

Determined to make the most of this apron, I took a strip of binding and forming a loop, sewed it to one side of the apron. This will be easy to push my garden gloves through when I need to take them off for those delicate things you can never grasp with gloves on.

On the other side I wanted a loop with elastic in it to hold my hand trowel, handheld shovel, etc. I took a piece of coordinating fabric that was twice the width of what I wanted; folding it in half I stitched the long side with a straight stitch, leaving both ends open. Turning it right sides out, I ran a length of elastic through the middle. Normally, when doing dresses for M&M I don't actually sew in the elastic but tack it into the seam at each end. I decided to do it a little differently this time and sewed in the elastic before pressing under the end seams and sewing it to the apron.

Here's a little bit better view:

****** Now, here is where I make my confession: I screwed up! It somehow always happens that no matter how much sewing experience I have (going on 15 years) I mess up somewhere that should've been a no brainer. My royal goof up this time related to the fact that technically you should sew the outer pockets on first, before folding the apron material in half and sewing the seams to create the four large pockets. But since I didn't, I spent a lovely thirty minutes pushing and maneuvering and grunting at my machine and the fabric.

On to happier moments: I decided I wanted a double pocket on one of the inner pockets. So, I ironed on interfacing to one piece and put the matching side right face to it and sewed them together, leaving a small part to turn the material right side out. After pressing and sewing the outer seams of the pocket, I pinned where I wanted the inner seam to be.


To give my pockets more width and keep them from being flat and tight, I simply scrunched the bottom end and made two pleats. This gives the pocket shape and you more room!

I did the same thing with the double pocket on the outside of the inner pocket.

My next step was to add the ties to each top end of my apron. I thought about doing more of a buckle style, and later I might convert it to that, but for now simply tying the apron on will suit me just fine.

If you've ever sewn on bias tape, you know how the ends can bunch and squirm like an unruly child when you are sewing near the end. You so want to have even, perfectly matching ends, but one side decides to rebel and you are left with crosseyed corners. Well, here's another LITLE tip: unfold the bias tape halfway. Using your scissors, snip the corners into angles like so.

Then finger press the end over just to where the angled cut ends.

Simply press with your iron and Presto! You have perfect corners!

Thus, I had two strips of bias tape pressed for my ties. I ran a quick straight stitch over the three ends (to keep the bias tape closed) and pinned it to the corner of my apron.

After sewing on the ties, I was officially DONE!!!!!!!!! Yahoo!

Here's a shot of the drawing and the finished product. Not too bad, huh?!

And, I ended up with a surprising feature to my God's inventive idea. By rolling up the apron and pulling a tie through the elastic tab, I have a convenient way to store my apron when not in use.

With my project finally done, I turned around to see what my little quiet helper(M&M) had been doing while her brother was taking a nap. I was pleasantly surprised with her creation. Then I was regaled with stories of each colored head pin and their roles as dwellers in a castle, complete with prince, princess, queen, and king all living on the flower pincushion. I think she had more fun than I did!

If you want to see the tutorial on making a flower shaped pincushion go to

P.S.- For some reason, no matter how many times I've tried, I can't get the address to the tutorial to link in any of the variety of ways. So, unfortunately you will have to copy and paste the address.

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