Saturday, July 31, 2010

Simple Sewing Saturdays: Special Edition!

Welcome to the first Special Edition of Simple Sewing Saturdays!  Today's edition will be part story, part sewing tips, hence the Specialness.  So if you're ready with your ice tea, hunker down for a pretty good story.
A few years ago, I had a dream.  You must understand that my dreams can be pretty crazy.  They are detailed, colorful, almost movie like.  Sometimes I look forward to sleeping so that I can enjoy the nightly show!  This dream was so clear, I can still see it today. I was outside on a beautiful summer day at Baby Girl's Hubby's family farm.  I had a big round quilting hoop on my lap, working on a pretty amazing quilt.
Near by are Baby Girl, her Hubby and his mother.  Him mom and I were seated while BG & HH were in a huge garden, working it carefully.  BG's hair was long and blowing in the wind and HH had no shirt on and seemed very happy to be out working the land.  I contentedly quilted and listened to the conversation between the three.

Baby Girl had on this beautiful long apron like dress .  I was admiring it when she turned and to my delight, a great pregnant belly filled the pretty frock.  The image was enough to startle me awake.  At the time of the dream, BG and HH were 'on a break', and were not even dating. I waited awhile before I mentioned the dream to her, not wanting to stir up any emotion. But I did not forget it.              Fast forward to this past year.  BG and HH have been married for over a year and they both have developed an interest in all things freshly grown and organic.  They put in a large size garden on a campus lot and the growing began.  The apron dress had not left my thoughts.  To capture it, I sketched a small drawing months ago to put on my project board for the right time.  Then The Announcement in May.  Plants are not the only thing growing in BG and HH's lives.  My next grandchild, another little girl, is filling her mama's belly with great progress.  I remember the apron dress but do not believe I have the proficiency to create a pattern from my little sketch.  Then last Tuesday and the Strange Desire to go through several bins in my old sewing room; bins that I hadn't gone through for a long time. Some of the bins are pretty deep and full so I was only able to 'feel' my way to the bottom, depending on my highly tuned skill in selecting fabric.  It is a skill I teach newbie thrift shoppers; when you're eye can't take it all in, run your hand over the tops of the hangers; your hand will lead you to the right fabric. My hand was deep in a bin, when I felt it.  I believe I even spoke out loud to myself in my basement.  'Nice', and then whipped the piece out of it's hideaway.  I vaguely remembered buying this piece.  I unfolded it to reveal more than just a remnant.  To my amazement, a small, apron like dress was before, nearly identical to my sketch.  I held it and stared at it for some time, wondering how in the world......I text BG and asked her to send me her upper measurements, assured that they had 'altered' a bit since I last had recorded them for my file.  She reported dutifully and I measured quickly. Argh.  A bit too small for a growing mama.  I thought a long while and kept touching the amazing fabric, oddly similar in content to The Maternity Top of long ago.  I knew what I must do.  But could I?  I had never attempted anything remotely like this before, but I felt confident that I must pursue on.  I carefully picked out stitch after stitch, admiring an unknown seamstresses meticulous work.  The homemade label read , "Pat's Pastime'.  Thought that was clever and noted that if this did indeed work, I would put the label right back in.  Then another sewing growth ring happened: while all the pieces were apart, I grabbed some tissue paper and traced copies of each piece, labeling them for future use for BG and all the other progeny progeny's pregnancies that I am around.  So as you can see, this is not so much an instructive SSS, but an encouraging one.  With some knowledge of sewing, you too can reconstruct your favorite ready made into a new garment.  With a bit of adjusting, embellishing and positive attitude, that item at the thrift store that is just not quite that right size, can soon meet your standards.  When you're already using reduced cost, there is not a lot to lose, but a lot to gain, in wardrobe AND confidence for bigger projects.  I cannot tell you how giddy I am completing this project!  Knowing that I have a paper pattern for more of these Garden Pregnant Dream dress/tops, is pretty darn exciting. Dare to experiment.  Learn your basics then test the waters. And above all, have fun....... 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Old School

We home schooled for eleven years.  In the mid 80's this was not so common.  You might say that the support group of like-minded mama's that I 'hung out' with, were a bit pioneery.  We forged ahead, knowing that our choice to school or 'unschool' was novel and not accepted by the mainstream.  Most of us were drawn to homeschooling for that very reason.  We saw schooling in the traditional sense, contradictory to the pattern of home life that our kids experienced for the first five or so years of their lives.  The reasons for homeschooling were as varied as our children and within our support group, we had them all.  We had hippies, wanting to teach their children the holistic way, we had religious zealots that believed that schools were of the devil and we had moms that just could not say good bye to their children.  The experience was varied yet helpful in all the different ways represented.  We learned which way we didn't want to go as well as the many positive suggestions.  We helped each other with curriculum ideas, (not too much to choose from back then) and shared ideas and materials.  Some of the most memorable books to my kids were the Old School books that I would buy at garage sales, like the ones pictured here. We loved the illustrations and the references to things long ago.  The books were simple yet clear.  Of course, we moved on to more comprehensive books in the upper grades, but these early years books were fun and historical at the same time. The gentler dialogue of another time intrigued me as well as the children.  Some times it was funny but mostly it was endearing....

Keep your eyes open for school books like these....A good viewpoint for your children, in school or home schooled.....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More on the Maternity Top....

You know that feeling that comes over you after a big party? Kind of a reflective thing, you replay the events and the staging and wonder how your guests saw things, wondering if it could have been more organized or tidy. And just how can I make things even better for next year?  And how can I be more prepared?
This week, I started putting things away with new eyes, with the intention of being better prepared for next year.  Understanding that I am the repository for all things, I carefully tried to put to memory, where things were going.  The outdoors draperies, the multitudinous tablecloths, the Japanese lanterns; all of it had to be searched for in order to use them this time, so I made mental sticky notes all over my brain to expedite the next sortie.

In doing this, I noticed I was digging a bit deep but I guess curiosity just got the best of me.  I did have those covered bins in my old sewing room downstairs...hmmmm....Can I remember what in the world is in them?  That's when it had to be done.  I approached the job with intrigue, knowing I would be sidetracked most of the day.  I sorted and tossed and laundered and stacked the bins neatly, making more room for more bins to join them there before The Great Basement Makeover.  Then my archaeological need went deeper.  Onward to the Letter Drawer in my desk.  On a regular basis,  I take a shoebox and empty the contents of my Letter Drawer, containing thank you notes, birthday greetings,programs, schedules, odd and assorted missives that collect over the months.  I then label them the date I removed them from the drawer and stack them in my closet.  Imagine the joy my children shall have at my demise, going through years, nay decades, of tokens of my day to day.  Once, when going through a similar box, I found a five dollar bill in a birthday card.  Perhaps I should randomly place a twenty (inflation) here and there to encourage them to go through it all?

All this is a long way around to get to my main point which is today's photo.  On the near bottom of the Letter Drawer, was the 8x10 Olan Mills free photo. Sharp shopper that Hubby is, we would get the complimentary free 8X10 periodically without any intention of buying anything else.  No matter how great the photo was.  He would have me repeat this before we would look at the proofs.  So I  have a pile of Complimentary Free 8X10's in my possession.  This one being special because of the lighter than air Maternity blouse that I am wearing, tucked in, because the pregnancy that I purchased the little top for, is sitting right there in my lap at a whopping six weeks old.  I remember the photographer kept saying, 'come on little baby, smile'....We all got a bit giggly since Eldest Son had not had his first smile yet at six weeks.  A rather serious, sober baby, he made up for his lack of humor later. I thought that if he smiled at this complete stranger after we have stood on our heads trying to get a smirk out of him, I was going to scream.
Another special reason this photo made me smile today is that Miss Vivien, just this past Sunday, wore the dress that her adorable mama is wearing in the photo!  Ah, the Deja Vu that was going on when her mama brought her out in what was little Eldest/Admin's  favorite, favorite dress.

As you can imagine, not much else got accomplished as I sat and looked at piles and piles of photos that somehow (see what I mean?) ended up in the Letter Drawer.

I counted it a kismet moment and I wanted to share it with you.......

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blessed Breezes!

Originally uploaded by calinyoung

'Poor weather is no excuse for bad taste'....Renee Busha to Deb Cory, May, 1993

This quote came to me often as we prepared the setting for the Retreat.....Knew only the bravest souls could have endured the outside last weekend.  At least it looked swell.....:D


Originally uploaded by calinyoung

Next year, the heat and mosquitoes shall be banished!

Different View

Originally uploaded by calinyoung

Perspective is an interesting thing, whether it be tangible or abstract. It is always startling how it changes things. When Baby Girl sent me the photos that she took of the Retreat Weekend, I was surprised by how lovely things looked. Being the realist that I am, I saw weeds proliferating and unkempt flower beds. How grand that it really did look nicer than I thought!
Keen thing, this perspective....
What should you see differently today?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Big Shoes to Fill

This pitiful shoes hold some pretty good tales.
Not big by most standards; the average size 10.
However, there is someone that fills these beat up foot covers that is far from average.
I have tried to talk this man into retiring these poor old things for a long time now, but frugal man that he is, he would assure me that he thought that they had some more life in them.
We would be out in genteel company when I would glance down and see these ratty ole things and cringe.
I could not persuade them that the time for his Good Shoes to step up to everyday.
It was while I was preparing for The Retreat that I had the chance to hide these hard workers from their owner.
But before I could relegate them to the Work Shoes Closet, I had to reflect on the miles that they took.
I thought of the many times these shoes helped others.  The moves, the service and the hard work that they represent.
I thought of the self sacrificing that they represented.  Surely, he wanted to keep his Good Shoes good longer so he could spend the Shoe Money on me.  Or others.  Some that he is not related to.  Like families that are struggling to pay their water bills and electric bills.  If he has to wear shoes like this so others can have the basics, then so be it.  This is how he thinks.
These shoes have taken him to many hours of work.  And back.  Then back again.
These shoes have taken dog walks when he neither cares for or really even likes either dogs or walking.  But I do, so he does.
I thought of the grocery shopping they have done when I could not.
I thought of the hours of fabric shopping that they accompanied me to, when he could have been napping.
I thought that he really didn't notice that they were so incredibly nasty because he is not the type to worry about how he looks.  Or others.  He tends to be the type that sees through to the soul and has little concern for the outer casing.  Good news for me.

I have to thank My Hubby for the success of last weekend's mama's collection of Friends First Annual Retreat.  In the midst of one of the worst medical/work week that he's had in a long time, he quietly departed to Eldest Son's welcoming home to spend resting while I filled our home with Wonderful Ladies and Their Progeny.  He left me well financed when I didn't even ask.  He never even objected or protested when I 'asked' him about doing this retreat at our home.  It is a given for him; if it is going to help others and give refreshment, then that is why he bought our home in the first place, so why question it.  And he came home with the right questions and the ability to disappear while friends were still here...

A rare gem and a delightful man packaged in raggedy shoes.
A true blessing....Thank you Lord, for Hubby.....

Monday, July 26, 2010


How do I begin? Do I report on our wonderful demonstration from Delightfully Pregnant Dana? These lovely zipper bags from here:

Do I tell you that my house was full and I was happy?
Do I report that we ranged from pre born to 2 months old to nearly 57 years?
That our numbers reached 15?

Do I tell you that the most beastly lingering heat wave hovered over our house?  How about that in that heat wave we had a picnic at the Farmer's Market and God provided a most amazing breeze to our picnic table and no where else?  That two Amish came up to our table to ask us what we were selling, our table looking so appealing? 
That we had three teenagers in attendance that were wonderful, helpful, respectful, fun AND talented? That one of them, pictured here with her plate of veggies, usually does not get too friendly with vegetables and unknown culinary delights?  That she discovered that she does indeed like summer squash?
Did I mention that we had one attendee travel six hours in a heat wave, with a 2nd grader in tow AND a due date of September 19th?
Can I impress you with the exceptional quality of food that we consumed?  That I can tell you that without fear of prideful retribution because Crazy Dee helped me and because another skilled homemaker friend knows how to make the best pie ever?  And showed us how to do the same?
How about one more incredibly biased story about Miss Vivien and her enjoyable company?  How about how adorable Baby Girl and Miss Viv were together?  Did I happen to mention that I didn't get any photos of Eldest/Admin because she was scurrying hither and thither helping her old mom and keeping BG from getting overtired/overheated?  Yeah.  Pretty awesome woman....
That I went to sleep incredibly peaceful and content doing what I love to do: entertaining, chatting with young mamas and watching babies, children, teens come into their own...
That sitting in my living room at the midnight hour with lovely young women, listening to their conversations, adding when asked, sharing my incredible blessings, is a highlight in my life?
That sitting on my front porch on a lazy Sunday morning, conversing with my out of town guests before I have to let them go to their faraway homes, feeding them lunch a few hours after breakfast just because I thought that they should be fed one last time here, is what I love to do...

I want to tell you it all, and I will in the days ahead..
Stay tuned for more on one of the most lovely weekends ever.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two to Go...That's All For Now....

The Time Has Come....
Pardon me while I enjoy my girlies and play host to a houseful of some favorite people....See you next week with much to report....
Have a wonderful weekend....
mama Deb.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


More things are crossed off my list.
The house looks different.  That mish mash of day to day that is usually present in a home, has been tidied.  To the studied eye.  To others, it will just look like my usual jumble of collections, but I know that there has been some serious inventory control going on.  Makes one wonder just how bad it must have been....

My Companion, The Sewing Machine, (shouldn't it have a name?  some of the bloggers name theirs; any ideas?) has been very happy having my attention for some days now.  And we are both happy at the outcome....

Working on the sessions ..

1. God's Creativity in Our Lives
 2. Sewing with Dana
3. How to Apply it All in Our Busy, Busy Lives
4. Prioritizing, Implementing; First Things First/And What is Our First Things?

.. has found me reflective on my Young Mama Days, grabbing those memories to glean lessons learned, to share with the New Young Mamas.  And it is the joy of my life, mentoring to those eager to learn from those that have gone that way before....Never having perfected the Art of Mothering, but certainly making enough mistakes to teach others the way NOT to go...The Goal?  No regrets.  Being at peace with the mother God designed you to be and utilizing the tools He gives you to accomplish it daily.....Incorporating Crafting into mothering just goes hand in hand to me as patience, skill, understanding is so much a part of both; one hones the other....And children get the benefit from a Creatively Outleted Mama......

Tick, tick, tick......

Monday, July 19, 2010

Countdown: Four More Days....

It's coming up fast....
It's been in the planning stage for so long, it seems hard to believe that the time has come to implement all the To Do Lists, the scheduling, the (YIKES) cleaning!

Today's list is nearly accomplished.  I use 'nearly' with great generosity but there is tomorrow.  But not too many of those before the Ladies who have signed on to attend the

mama's collection of Friends
First Annual Crafting/Spiritual Retreat!!!

will begin arriving!!!  Eldest/Admin and Miss Vivie arrive on Wednesday and I am thrilled!  The doggies look a bit sad knowing full well that they are are not on the Invite List.  Miss Dixie is more than aware of something afoot in  her abode.  She eyes me suspiciously as I accomplish household tasks that are not on my daily repertoire. She is pictured in my Sewing Room as I wrap up some 'surprises'....Not particularly thrilled..

Even Hubby with his own overwhelming issues, has seen to it that his 'To Do' list is attended to, as is witnessed by my new kitchen shelves in the above photo.  I must add that this was done without One Word of Prompting (nagging, reminding, hinting).  I awoke from my Sunday Nap to find this Helpful Hubby working on the shelves. (Did you notice the nice rounded edge he did for me? How well treated am I??)

Tomorrow, Stella the Cat gets her first 'grooming'.....Don't you wish you could see that?
More work on sessions, 'surprises, cleaning and setting up the great outdoors for My Lovely Ladies....

More coverage tomorrow.....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yard Sale Lessons

What I Have Learned About Garage Sales:

1. They are called different names regionally. Most are Garage (spelled many different ways); some are Yard Sales; Tag Sales in some suburbs; Estate Sales when someone has to die first.  Maybe what I normally have is an Estate Sale; I usually die before and most certainly after.
2.  Yard Sales (and I use the term indiscriminately) are hard work.
3.  I am an excellent Yard Sale attender, but a lousy giver. I never make any money.  In fact at most recent fiasco, I actually lost money.  Seriously.  I came away with less than I started with.  I blame Neighbor Nancy and Sister Lois for this. 
4.  I would love to watch someone who does this well so that I can learn a thing or two.  I am a pushover.  Someone merely has to smile at an object that they want, and I practically give it to them.  Sometimes, I even carry it home for them.  I have actually done this.  Last year, a Little Old Lady (probably a few years older than me.) drove up to the sale and explained that she didn't get around very well, and would I please bring over some doilies that she was admiring.  Of course.  So that day I witnessed my first Drive Thru Garage Sale.  To my credit, she did buy the doily. For a quarter.
5.  You should never, never, never hold a Garage Sale solo.  The Pits.  The 2G's mama helped on the first day till the Nap Monster overtook the 2G's.  And my Lovely Lillian came on the last day and helped with Miss Dixie and her fretful ways.  Their company was very helpful but for the rest of the time, I was dreadfully unentertained.  I read, crocheted and even (What?) weeded, but those pesky (see?) customers kept interrupting.  But nothing cures the ills of the drone of working three days for 12.35, like human companionship. Misery loves company.
6.  But there are Silver Linings.  Lest you think me a curmudgeon, let me regal you with some of more satisfactory moments:

a.  Sylvia the Sainted Girl:  This little girl about 8 years old simply fawned over my garden.  She noticed the bouquet upon my Checkout Desk and oohed and aahed for quite awhile.  It was then that I told her about Fairy Bouquets.  Fairy Bouquets are tiny little flower arrangements that I make with those tiny little Jam Sampler Jars.  Little girls and the occasional little man, love to see the teeny flowers in their own wee little GLASS vase; they love knowing that I trust them to have an actual GLASS 'vase'.  I love watching them leave, studying the weensy flowers.  Sylvia was a rare child.  I wish she would have stayed and kept me company.  I think we are kindred spirits.
b.  The Religious Lady with the Two Booklets.  I can count on her to come by and admire my garden as well.  I can count on her to buy things from me to extend her visit.  This time she outdid herself by buying a most questionable item which only further made me question things.  Despite being quite a character, she is an upbeat cheerful thing that makes me smile.

c.  People that will engage in a bit of conversation.  I had one little interchange with a lady that didn't see anything she needed other than the very tablecloths that were hiding my 'vintage' card tables.  That got us on a conversation about All Things Collectible that mama's collection does so well.  Very nice lady.  Good taste as well.
d.  Knowing that I have searched the nooks and crannies in my over packed home and have dispensed with quite a bit of the superfluous.  Even if it was for a quarter, delivered.

7.  Things I Kept Entertained With:  Worked on the next weekend.  Woohoo!!  Checked out lists and made a timeline.  Read Hidden Art. Perfunctorily looked over my new book that just came in the mail.  Crocheted  my jute twine market bag.  With three different types of twine, just to see which one I like the most.  Because I can.  Helped LL sell watermelon balls and lemonade; a hot weather alternative to cookies and muffins....

8. I have learned that I do not know what people want.  I know what I'm looking for and that will not be at my sales.  Those things are in my house.  No matter how varied the assortment, I get the once over, without a word then off into the sunset.  And speaking of that, just what is Garage Sale Conversational Protocol?  I always greet people warmly, but some look scared after that.  Do you prefer stony silence so that you can concentrate without the pressure of conversation?  I usually interact cheerfully with my Garage Sale proprietor with different reactions.  But when I am the 'host', I feel obliged to be very nice.  I do not know why.  It can get me in trouble, like poorer.  I interacted with one 'older' lady yesterday and thought second about it.  She drew closer to me and in a conspiratorial tone, she whispered, 'I am from here', I responded with that dog like tilt of my head. 'Excuse me?' I asked, thinking she meant from my back yard.  She smiled with a rather prideful look on her face, and replied, 'I am from Mitchell; I'm a Crawford''.  I responded like every transplanted Mitchellite does, 'Oh!' I say, having not a clue what that means, much to my disgrace.  This is a reason why I will never be considered as an actual citizen but as a foreigner; I just don't know all the history I need to survive.  Ah.

9.  And the worse part of Flying Solo is The Cleaning Up.  Aargh.  You are already hot and bothered and really unhappy that your three days investment in time and energy amounts to a negative amount.  So you go slowly, breathe deeply and reflect on the ongoing thread of conversation that ran through with my time with LL, a most mature of second graders.  But even time with Her Debbie can be exhausting especially watching  Planet 51 till 11:30pm.  And so she napped for two hours in a blissful summer morning nap under my canopy on my wicker love seat in the backyard.
And that made it worth it all.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oh My.

Is this photo too big?
But I have a Big Announcement, so I wanted to get your attention.
Baby Girl has started her own blog!
It's about time, I say, ferheavenssake......:D

I won't keep you....Go ahead and read about BG's adventures.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Delightful Diversions: Part Two: Daylilies!

Oh My! If my brain needed a restful state, it certainly received it last night at the Garden Exchange.  This time, we journeyed a bit south to the amazing Brown Day Lily Farm.  And such a treat it was!  Hundreds and hundreds of daylillies looking pretty much their best on a lovely July evening....We gardeners were like children, bustling through the neat paths, exclaiming, one after another, 'Oooh!  Look at this one!  This one's my favorite!  No!  This is!' and on it went as we filled our eyes with the delightful beauty.The color combinations were absolutely inspiring.  Some of the designs and color combos made me smile, thinking of some of my favorite fabric designers; Art Imitating Nature......Some of us purchased some, laboring over the task of trying to figure out just which one....Or two...Here is Nonagenarian Noni, my dear Fleur de lis and Gardening Exchange friend.  She loves lilies and her weakened eyesight delighted in the visual treat....Mr. Brown let us look through some of his lily catalogs and I found a species named "Aunt Leona", Noni's given name.  She was tickled to the point of laughter, contemplating the ability to perhaps purchase her 'namesake'.....Mr. Brown entertained us with day lily stories of hybridizing and propagating and care taking this marvelous plot of land. Mrs. Brown provided tea, lemonade and cookies.  Does she do this nice thing for all her visitors?  The sitting under the carport on some of Mr. Brown's handmade stools, gazing at the proliferation of color surrounding us, pretty much brought me to Gardening Euphoria......
Sigh....A treat for the senses; inspiration for the sewing room, clarity for the brain....The beauty of nature and it's intended remedy for stress...Thank you Lord......

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