Thursday, July 12, 2018

Made By Me // Sewing Projects Notebook

Hello, friends!  I sincerely hope you are having a most wonderful summer (or winter, for a few of my lovely friends and readers I know of) thus far. How quickly the months are flying this year- to think it is already almost the middle of July!  It has gotten to that point in the summer here where half of me is anxious for fall and cooler temperatures already, and the other half is excitedly awaiting more summer adventures and possibly a beach trip.  How about you?
It has been far too long since I spent an afternoon writing here, and I am ever so delighted to be doing just that right now and get to share something with you.... a project I worked on earlier this spring and have been happily adding to: my SEWING NOTEBOOK!
Wanting very much to grow in my sewing skills and work on new projects this year, I began thinking about a place to draw out my ideas and designs and keep record of all of my projects that I attempt.  This led me to looking for inspiration to draw from, and I began putting together a notebook.  My photos here show the culmination of it all, beginning with the blank black notebook below and a box full of some fun things I went through as I got ideas for what to add: vintage-inspired buttons, stamps, ribbons, paper-crafting embellishments, and other decorations.
And after a wonderful time spent creating and putting it together, I ended up with the above design for the cover, to which I added the drawing of something every seamstress needs: a measuring tape.   I am so happy to have found the dreamy Old World buttons, sewing machine applique, and other embellishments, not only for the cover/outside, but also....
...for the joy of decorating the inside with my favorite stamp ever and some stickers and details that any old soul like myself would likely love.  I smile each time I open the cover to see this inner page.
And then there was the organization and sketches aspect of my notebook to think about.  For this, I was greatly inspired by the post found HERE on one of my favorite blogs, Boyer Sisters, where I love finding inspiration in modest style, as well as sewing ideas from countless older posts by these talented sisters.  I loved the organization of the way Brigid laid out her sewing plans, and it gave me something to go from when it came to laying out my own pages.
I found a nice almost 1940's-esque model to use as the figure for my sketches and then decided where my fabric swatches would go and the details I wanted to add for each sketch: pattern name and identification, possible trim options, length alterations, etc.
I had a ball putting together the beginnings of my sewing projects notebook and adding the first sketches to it, and I think the part of it I love most is the tactile element of adding the fabric swatch to each sketch.☺  I can't wait to add more as I imagine thumbing someday through pages on pages of sewing plans collected and recorded here.

Do you have a notebook of your sewing or crafting plans/projects?

How would you decorate yours?

.            .           .


Before I go, I wanted to share the link to a very dear friend I am so
 blessed to know at her most beautiful blog, She Graces Her Home.
She is currently recovering from surgery and is close in my thoughts, heart, and prayers.  
As she recovers, I'm sure it would bless her so much if you'd like to visit and send
her well wishes, as well as lift her in prayer!



Wishing you a blessed rest of your week, dears!

-J

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ice Cream at the Soda Fountain

Hello, dear friends!  I have missed writing here and of course visiting my dear blogging friends during the past month that has been so full and busy.  I do hope you are well and wish you a truly blessed summer to come!  What joy, sunny cheery, and adventures and memories to be made encompass the feeling of the summer season.
To begin those memories for this summer, I recently made a visit to a little Utopia I love so much, one of my favorite towns in all of Texas.  I enjoyed the sun-dappled beauty of the breezy afternoon, a perfect lunch on the river, strolling by Victorian buildings, and wearing my new dress with cherries on it.  It's the simple things, right?☺  I thought I'd share some of my views from this blissful day with you below, namely a few from the good old-fashioned General Store and soda fountain inside!  Ah, what fun and nostalgia!
This final photo brings peace to my heart as I long to sit here for an afternoon with a treasured friend to talk and sip lemonade, or perhaps indulge in ice cream from the soda fountain- maybe a chocolate scoop or two this time?☺  Wouldn't that be so lovely?


Do you enjoy visiting historic small towns?
Or a visit to an old-fashioned place?

Many blessings & hugs to you!
-J

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Soul-Refreshing River

Happy Memorial Day weekend, dear friends!  I hope you are enjoying a relaxing one so far.  What a joyous long weekend and time it is to reflect and both feel and show gratefulness for what those who have fought for us have sacrificed and to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  I am humbled and awed by the bravery of those who protect us every day and those who have in the eras before us.  I had the pleasure of briefly meeting a veteran yesterday outside the post office and thanking him for his service.  I also walked away with a beautiful handmade poppy pin that he handed me (from the veterans booth at which he was volunteering his time).

Do you have any special plans this weekend?  While I thus far am just enjoying sweet family time and making some progress on projects, I am delighted to be taking a bit of time right now to sit down in the cool air, refreshing drink beside me, to write here and share some photographs from a recent trip I made to the river.  My, how I can almost feel how deliciously cool this water was as I gaze upon each photo, as well as how breathtaking the scenery was, namely the centuries old trees lining the banks and the frothy, wonderful falls in the distance!

I came to the river on a day that followed several intense weeks of what felt like non-stop busyness that included some stressful times.  I had felt in my heart a type of distress that led me to a place where I felt near desperate to have a break from it all... and the Lord certainly provided that to me with this beautiful day by this heavenly water out amid His creation.  This place is, in fact, my new favorite river view in all of our state, and I plan to return many times this summer to enjoy the serenity and the peace that comes with being here, a peace that eases any anxiety I feel from the fast pace of everything. 
 
I came away from our visit here with a renewed spirit and gratefulness that built into knowing I could keep going.   I am so thankful for places like this that bring me back to where I need to be to get through.  Do you ever feel that sometimes- like you just need to spend time in solitude, whether on a walk or hike or trip into nature, so that you can rejuvenate your very heart and soul?






The strong bases of the trees that are so often found at the banks of our rivers here reminded me of something as I stood next to their impressive girth.  They brought to my mind the power of having roots in our Savior.  I am forever amazed by the trees I encounter that are a century or several centuries old, that stand the tests of time and seem as strong and resolute as ever.  Their rich root system is largely the cause, and it makes me think of how the roots of our faith can only be long-lasting that way if we are planted deeply in God.  And having that sentiment most strongly as I spend time out in His handiwork in the outdoors is a confirmation of that to me.

.           .           .
 
As the years pass and more experiences make up my life, some very challenging, I am all the more cognizant of just how rooted in the Lord I need to be to survive this life!  I don't know how else I would if faith were not a part of my everyday life.  I shudder to think where I would be without Him.  One of those experiences I was referring to happened the other day as we were coming home from a day out...
 
It was a Saturday and had been a very pleasant day of doing some shopping together.  We were in the car, happily on our way home, when suddenly my mom looked troubled as she looked off to the side of the road.  She said to me that she had just seen a turtle very close to the fog line and she was afraid it would get run over.  So was I.  We had to keep going quite a ways on the road since we had not been able to stop in time on the side, and as there was no way to turn around right off, we went down several miles until we could turn around and catch the road back the other way. 
 
We were able to make it back onto the road and head toward the turtle again.  When we finally spotted him, we pulled off to the side of the tiny shoulder lane where he was.  This road is very busy all the time, and that day was no exception, so it was a little scary to walk on the side with the cars zooming past at such high speed.  Our car had actually stopped several yards from where the turtle was, so it took us a while to walk up to him closely enough to see him well.  Once we did get close enough, though, we were horrified and so saddened to see that our worst fear that the turtle would be hit had, in fact, already happened.  
 
The poor little turtle had been hit and had a major wound on the front right part of his shell and body that looked to be maybe a few hours old.  We got down closer to him, and his injuries were so bad that we realized he must certainly not be alive anymore.  We were just about to walk back to the car, when my mom suddenly said, "Oh my goodness, he's still alive!  He's moving!"  She had been looking when I had already turned, and she saw him move his head.   As terribly as he was injured, we contemplated what to do.  But with no wildlife hospitals nearby, we decided the only thing to do was take him home with us.  We grabbed a cloth bag from our car and put him on it to transport him.
 
Once back home, we ended up taking him inside and putting him in a roomy box in our hallway and trying to wet him down with a soaked towel because he had likely been in the hot sun for quite awhile on that road.  We called countless numbers of vet offices, wildlife rescues, and the like, but by this time in the evening, none were open.  It was helpless feeling!  ....knowing this beautiful creature was hurt so badly and we couldn't do anything.   Eventually, we realized that due to the severity of his wounds, there was not hope of saving him so it would be best for his comfort to be put out of his suffering.  Although, I prayed hard as I sat by him that he was in shock and hopefully not feeling much.
 
In the end, our only available option that day was to let him be taken by the animal control office in town and they euthanized him.  It was so sad and something that was so difficult to see, especially because of the sight of the injury and because we are serious animal lovers, but I had a peace in my heart as I went to sleep that night just knowing that he was now out of pain.
 
.            .             .
 
That PEACE is why I wanted to share this story.  It is in a difficult and trying, sad situation like this that I am reminded more than ever of the immense role being rooted in faith and believing in the Lord plays in making this life... well, livable, despite the things that break our hearts.   The one thing in this world that has bothered me, hurt my heart, and kept me awake some nights- more so than anything else- is the suffering... the suffering and hurt that people and animals throughout the world are enduring.  I am physically sickened sometimes by hearing stories of suffering, whether it be an illness, tragedy, or case of something else.  It gets to me so often, and is a struggle for me to not just feel constantly weighed down as I think about everything going on on our planet.
 
BUT, I have the literal saving grace of the Lord to catch me before I fall too, too deeply into those feelings.  And the reason is because God is synonymous with HOPE.  When I think of his promises...
 
I know the current state of things is not the end of the story. 
 
I think of His word, saying that He hears our cries and sees
 our suffering and never leaves us.
 
I remember the immense suffering our Savior, Jesus Christ,
endured on our behalf and know that He empathizes and has been there. 
 
 
And when I apply my faith and stay focused on this hope, I can apply it to my life and specifically to those situations and times when I feel that weight of not being able to take pain away from others.  The day we found the turtle, I felt those negative thoughts flooding me as I felt anger about what had happened, but only through turning to the Lord for comfort through those hours was I able to instead focus on the positives of this situation and find things to be thankful for about the day...
 
We had been able to rescue him from being stuck on the pavement
and suffering for who knows how much longer had we not taken him.
 
He was able to be cared for in a quiet, cool place in our home
instead of on the busy road with the sounds of the traffic.
 
Because of my faith, I was able to pray about everything as it was
happening, and I felt peace inside after all of it.
 
Because we found him, the turtle was able to be euthanized
instead of continuing to suffer from his injuries.
 
 
Like that river, God refreshes our souls during the circumstances we sometimes face.  And like those trees alongside the river with their deep roots, rooting ourselves just as deeply in Him changes our perspectives and enables us to be hopeful and see the good in this life when it sometimes feels we are surrounded and overwhelmed by things that break us.
 
"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk in Him, ROOTED  and built up in Him
and established in the faith."
-Colossians 2: 6,7
 

Many blessings to you, dears!
Wishing you a joy-filled weekend!
-J 
 


Monday, May 14, 2018

"The Sweet, Simple Things of Life..."

Good morning, everyone!  I trust you enjoyed a beautiful weekend and Mother's Day yesterday- I don't think I could fathom where we would be without mothers and I wish each of you lovely, lovely ladies a truly BLESSED belated Mother's Day! 

Whatever my plans for any given weekend, I believe the most purely relaxing and enjoyable moments come when I find delight in the simplest things that are the real things... such blessed gifts from the Lord.  For instance, an exquisite, bright yellow flower peeking out amid the grass and twigs.  I took the photo above the other day while spending some peaceful time in the garden.  I wasn't gardening, but rather sitting among the flowers, just taking in the freedom and bliss that comes from focusing on nothing but the beauty of simplicity... the sun-dappled pattern of leafy shadows across my arms and face, the blooms around me greeting me warmly with their brilliance and hues, and the warm sun welcoming me outside.

.              .             .

Time spent inside such a moment that calms your heart and soul is a precious thing and often calls to mind for me this eloquent quote from the wise Laura Ingalls Wilder, a woman whose life I greatly admire.  Her thoughts here brings me back to an awareness of the life I know the Lord intended for us, one of being able to slow down, to live at a pace where we can appreciate with true gratitude in our hearts the ultimate blessings of life, a life that this fast-paced world often makes nearly impossible.   We live in a time when things like money, an illustrious lifestyle, and so much overall emptiness is prevalent and even sought after... but how amazing it is to share the sentiments and ponderings of Laura, to remember the REAL things in life and value them instead of the ephemeral.

With intentionality, it has been my prayer that I would make
a conscious effort to take these words to heart every day of my life... 
in no way am I successful at this constantly, though I wish I were, but
I have been blessed so by counting these real things that show
up in fragments and collectively make up the simply beautiful
 moments where I feel alive with the joy and gratefulness 
that lead to the best life possible:

•Sitting in the warm sun, surrounded by the colors of our
petunias, geraniums, impatiens, and other garden beauties:
a spray of coral, fuchsia, scarlet, violet, peach.

•Watching my tomato plant grow tall, as well as the first tomato on it

•Spending a day by the verdant river (and the waterfall at its head)

•Feeling the warmth of the ground beneath my bare feet outside

•Trying a new supper recipe with my mom (+ the conversations
had and memories made in the kitchen)

•Watching my dog enjoy sunning beside the flowers on the porch,
which she also loves to sniff.

•Starting a new sewing project AND new sewing-related project

•Holding an old photo in my hand and thinking of the
memory that it captured

•Spending an afternoon enveloped in the freedom of having
nothing to do but take my camera in hand and explore a new place

•God's word bringing peace over me just before bed as I read it

•The elation of looking forward to taking a trip in the near future

•Being inside the hug of someone who means the world to me

•Gathering a bouquet of vibrant, pink roses from the garden

•Comforting a friend who has been hurting emotionally

•Seeing an exotic bird flying near the creek in the park
where I jog and walk.

•Reading a new verse that stirs my thoughts and convicts me with
grace (one being Psalm 86:11)

•Seeing the first glowing fireflies of summer!

•Waking up with Be Thou My Vision in my head after falling
asleep praying the night before.

•Hearing a song that makes me want to dance

•Having my family altogether relaxing after a long day

•Discovering quotes that perfectly convey my own thoughts

•Watching a cardinal pair and blue jays resting on our
fence only a moment ago

•Feeling the cool soil on my hands while planting

•The sound of rain falling from the eaves after a spring storm

•The childlike whimsy of working on art, especially watercolor

•A comment or message from a loving friend (like you dears who have
left such lovely words here- thank you!!!) that makes my day


I believe these simple, sweet things are the richest parts of our lives, reminding us of the purest aspects of this life we've be given.  And I feel that they must be the true and real things, as Laura said, because I realize that not only are they the ones that balance and ground us when we're overwhelmed by this life, but they also REFLECT the Lord's creation, love, and imagination instead of distracting us from Him.

What "sweet, simple things of life" are you counting?
Are you finding yourself seeking these real, pure joys more and more?

Blessings to you!
-J

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Heirlooms // The Old-Fashioned Recipe Tin

What relaxation and simple pleasure I find in sitting down at the table to spend time doing something a bit old-fashioned.  I love being brought back to simpler times and carrying on traditions or art forms of the ladies that lived before me.  One of the aspects of the home arts that I have always had such an admiration of is the beauty of community through the generations when it comes to passing on recipes, preserving those old hand-written recipe cards kept by our mothers and grandmothers.  One of my favorite Southern quotes reminds me of this and what meaning this part of homemaking has to family and tradition...

A shared recipe in the South is more precious than gold.
And it always comes with a story.

Those words give me a nostalgic feeling for the olden days when it was more common for some of the finer points of womanhood and being a lady to include the home arts, like writing, sharing, and passing on those recipes.  Today's world seems to send a message that putting much focus on anything of this nature is not important or meaningful for girls and women... or perhaps too soft and old-fashioned.  But for those of us who admire that "old-fashioned" living when things were simpler, it is unequivocally a precious thing to keep the traditions of the past going by collecting and passing on recipes, essentially contributing to our families' history and generations to come.
So, with this delightfulness in my old soul, I recently (and very excitedly) picked up an official recipe tin to begin my own heirloom box-full of recipes. We have had recipes written down and kept elsewhere, but I wanted to purpose to bring them together and organize them altogether in a tin.   And what a lovely tin I found... with cheerfully elegant floral adornment and gold label holder to boot!
Then my mom and I sat down on a recent weekend and had such a fun afternoon of transferring new and old recipes (including some we have just newly discovered), writing them on the pretty recipe cards that were included in the tin.  We enjoyed our afternoon so much, a time that truly gave me an always much needed reminder of the blessing of slowing down and getting back to basics.  These are times I cherish.
The artfully decorated tin came with eight tabbed marker cards to section off and keep your recipes organized.  I am quite sure that our thickest section will absolutely be that which is in the very front: desserts.  Yes, we are avid bakers here and will take joy in placing new cards in that section most of all as we collect and experiment with new baked wonder and recipes.
This spring, our rosebush out back has just been explosive with the brilliance of vivid pink blooms (as you may have seen in my recent post)!  What a gift to look out our back window each morning to see it's colorful greeting.  I am thankful for its constant reminder of brightness.  It is so bright that it seems to be a beacon of hope and joy, especially as the doves and jays come to rest above it on the fence once in a while.  And one aspect of our new tin I loved when I first saw it was how the floral print was reminiscent of our glorious roses.  Seeing all of the floral hues on the tin's artwork inspires me to want to expand our garden- I think I would start with adding that heavenly peach shade of flower!

.            .           .

Getting back to the "desserts" section, a couple of our most recent additions are cookie recipes.  So many scrumptious variations to try!  Two that we have been enjoying making in the recent days and weeks are an apple-cake cookie and then a fruit filled cookie that I am sharing below...
Fresh Southern Blackberry Cookies
Preheat oven: 375 (middle rack)

INGREDIENTS-
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup salted, soft butter
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 lg egg
2 cups packed flour
1/4 cup milk

DIRECTIONS-
Rinse and dry berries, set aside.
Mix sugar and softened butter in bowl with whisk by hand, then beat until
light and fluffly.  Add baking powder, salt, & lemon zest. Mix thoroughly.
Add in egg and mix. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix in, then add the milk,
 then rest of flour.  Mix well.  Gently fold in berries with rubber spatula.
Drop cookies onto ungreased (non-stick) baking sheet.  Apx. 12 per sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until light, golden brown on edges.
*Add dried cranberries or dried strawberries if desired.
Yield: apx. 3 dozen small cookies
(Note:  This recipe originally came from a book we checked out at the library
and was not originally titled as it is here- regrettably, I cannot remember
 the book title.   I do not take credit for this recipe.)
I just LOVE a cookie (or any dessert, for that matter) where you can see the juiciness of the fruit in it spilling out, just calling you to take a bite.  I will just leave out exactly how many cookies I ate in one day the first time we made these!
The thoughts that sailed through my mind while writing our recipes -thoughts I am sure will come to me each time I add a new card to the tin- were evocative of the past, sending me to a place of imagining my grandmothers and great-grandmothers sitting at their own kitchen tables decades and decades ago as they wrote down recipes for a new dessert or meal they tried.  Perhaps they wrote many of them down as new brides starting out, or as young girls joyfully learning to cook with their mothers.  I love being in a moment that gives me an indescribable feeling of being inside a "memory" that I haven't necessarily lived, but one I can imagine clearly somehow, such as of those women before me.  It is that exact sentiment that compels me to see the deep beauty and meaning in collecting old recipes cards, old photos, or anything else tied to those very memories.

.            .           .

I would love to hear about your memories of recipe writing, starting
 your first recipe tin/box, or if you enjoy adding to yours!?
I am sure I will be adding to our new one regularly, and it is a dreamy
thought to picture myself years from now with a completely full tin-
perhaps to where I will even need another one!

Many blessings to you, dears!
-J

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