Wednesday, January 16, 2019


This year I'm focusing on gentleness.  I'm not a very gentle person, it goes against everything I know, been trained in, and so on.  I'm blunt, mostly tactless, and my filter is pretty flawed.

Needless to say this is a challenge.

Why did I choose gentility for this year?  Well, I honestly want to change, not only for myself but for my stepdaughter who behaves more like me than her biological mother (I have raised her going on 13 years of her 15 years).  Also for my husband who deserves a less abrasive wife.

My go to response for years has been a very blunt answer for many issues.  Again, lack of a filter.  I've figured if you don't want an honest answer to your question don't ask me.  Sadly, that's not exactly Christ-like. The bible  says a soft answer turns away wrath.  My answers have been seldom soft.  For this, the Holy Spirit has been doing a lot of convicting. 

Gentleness is something  I haven't known much in my life. My own mother did not model it at all, quite the opposite.  My "adoptive" mom, also my cousin...she and her daughter  modeled gentleness.  I needed that softness in my world where softness sorely lacked.   As I got older and into church, a dear friend showed me gentleness on display in a home setting with children and all the duties of a wife and mom.  She is still a dear friend and still displays gentleness  that I can only dream of having. 

I'm finding  the more I pray for help in giving a kind and soft answer, the easier it is becoming .  Don't get me wrong....I used to be able to make grown men cry with my words and tone, so this is something that is taking a lot of prayer and practice .  With God's guidance, I can become   a gentle and softer woman. 

Do you struggle with harsh answers  or words?  If so, I would   be glad to pray along with you.  With God all things are possible . 😊

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Old Kitchen Sink

From Happy Housewifery

Sometimes I dream of having a built in dishwasher, ready to accept all of our dirty dishes and clean them all without me scrubbing.  I was just thinking that today as I worked on the 3rd load of dishes through the old kitchen sink.

But then, another thought entered in.

Where would I do my prayer time at?

Each day I stand at the old kitchen sink, with its chips and stains from years of use, and look out the window that overlooks our back yard.  The old double hung window faces west, and from there I can see the storms as they work their way in, or a sky clearing off as a system passes by.  I start my day at that old sink, pouring water into the coffee pot and measuring grounds to make into "instant human".  Right beside the sink I keep close at hand the stand mixer, blender, and coffee pot (and a second coffee pot, the old fashioned perk pot, on the stove top).  My world seems to revolve around those things and the sink.

Lots of time passes by standing at that old sink.  It's not unusual to find me there, washing dishes, preparing various ingredients to put into the day's meals, etc, and listening to the radio.  The time at the old sink allows me to hear bible studies, preaching, and good old hymns.

The old sink has also seen a lot of tears-- tears of anger, sorrow, joy, and the occasional cut finger.  It's weathered my frustrations with a child, anger after an animated discussion within the home, sorrows in missing loved ones or heartaches from circumstances beyond our control, and joys of prayers answered.  It's been the place of many prayers, and it seems more often than not, that's my "prayer closet".  No one bothers me while I stand at the sink, as I'll hand them the sponge and allow them to take over.  So, in wide open view, I am able to stand and pray, quietly while the noises of the home go on, and take my cares, worries, fears, praises, and worship, to the Lord.  Since I average 2 to 3 sink loads of dishes a day, I have lots of time I can spend with the Lord, mostly uninterrupted, where I can talk with Him.

Looking at it this way, that dishwasher doesn't look so appealing after all....

This is an old home, well over 100 years old, and that sink has been there a long time.  I'm sure a couple of other women before me have stood there, sharing many of the same sentiments.  We use(d) what is considered one of many chores, and put the time taken for it to have a dual purpose.  That time with the Lord may not have been there had we popped the dishes into a machine, turned it on, and walked away to find something else to do.

Maybe it's all about perspective......

Shared at:  Darling Downs Diaries, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, What Joy Is Mine, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Mom's The Word--Living For Him

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Friday, August 22, 2014

She Loved

This is something I have to share.  This song brings tears to my eyes, as this is my dear adoptive mom, my cousin Anna all wrapped up in a song.

Someone once asked
If only you knew
How short life would be
What would you do?
What would they say
When God called you home?
What would they engrave
Once you were gone?

I hope they would see
What I've done in my life
Who I've cared for
And how I survived
I hope they'd say

She loved more than anything else
She loved with all of her heart
She loved everyone she believed in
She loved...oh she loved

She loved the Lord
And served all her life
A sacrificial mother
And an honorable wife
She gave all she had
And through every trial
Made life much sweeter
Because of her smile

Everyone will see
What she's done in her life
Who she cared for
And how she survived
I'm sure they'd say

She loved more than anything else
She loved with all of her heart
She loved everyone she believed in
She loved...oh she loved

She loved...everyone she believed in
She loved..oh she loved
Oh...she loved


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Dip in the Floor

If you've ever lived in an older home, you know the slightly uneven floors, the dips, the creaks, the small imperfections that come with age.  I like the charm and fun of starting a little ball at the top of the floor and letting it roll down the incline and watching the cats and kids chase after it, with laughter and skittering claws playing chase together.  You learn by trial and error which way to mop in order to avoid pooling, and you get used to the odds and ends of the home.

We moved into this home almost a year ago now, and so far I've adjusted to the little quirks that come along with a 100 plus year old home.  Sure, the floors slant a little, there's steps that took only once to remember their presence, but there's one place that caught my attention after a while.  It didn't dawn on me until not too long ago as to why it was there...what caused that flaw.

And I think we need more of that particular flaw....

There's a dip in the floor.

 It's located in front of the old fashioned gas stove.

It's one that came about from years of feet standing in front of that old stove.  Those old boards have over the years slowly compacted as the weight of the woman of the house stood over it, creating  countless meals in that one place.  Oh how many hours the women before me must have stood there, stirring soups and stews, frying meats, cooking vegetables, using the canner to put up the season's surplus.

I can picture in my mind's eye women from eras past in their aprons, moving to and fro between the old stove and the old white sink, dashing about as they worked to prepare the family's meals.  I can smell the fried chicken of Sunday dinner after church, with mashed potatoes and gravy and all the fixings.  I can see the meatloaf fresh out of the old oven and sizzling hot, and a pan of gravy up on the burner staying warm and waiting.  I can see a flat griddle in the early morning hours patiently frying pancakes for bleary eyed children.  I can smell the coffee percolating on the back burner for the caffeine needs of cook and husband.

At first, upon moving in, I saw this dip as a small nuisance, mainly due to drying time and the puddle that sits an extra hour or two longer, especially in winter.  As I've discovered a reason for that dip, I've come to appreciate it.  I can handle the extra drying time.

Today in a lot of homes, there's no one there to stand at the stove and stir a pot of soup, to make a goulash, mash potatoes, stir some gravy.  No one is home to pull a loaf of bread from the hot oven.  The stove top becomes dusty, the floor gets no use.  While life was harder back in the years past, with older ways of doing things, less to work with, and so thing could be counted on--mom at home with a hot meal or a batch of cookies, or something freshly made.  When at all possible she was home, tending to home and family, nourishing her husband and children with home cooked meals.

And slowly, one meal, one loaf of bread at a time, one cookie sheet at a time...creating a dip in the floor.

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Shared at:  The Modest Mom, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, What Joy Is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, A Proverbs 31 Wife, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions A Wise Woman Builds Her Home So Much At Home

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Learning to Quilt--Hand Stitched Quilt Top

I finally did it.  I began working on a quilt.

This is something I've been wanting to do for years, using fabrics that I've held on to for a good 10 years.  I wanted to make something to hand down to the kids, but never thought I could do it.

Then I stumbled on to this little beauty--English Paper Piecing.

I really don't like using rotary cutters, and I have not learned how to make exact seams, even though I can make dresses, skirts, pants, you name it, with ease.  The exactness of quilting befuddled me.

With paper piecing, it is much different.  There's no machine.  No rotary cutter.  Just a hand needle, thread, scissors, and pieces of paper cut to the template you choose.

And fabric.  Lots and lots of fabric.

I dug around out in the shed and found the stash of clothes I'd saved from mom's possessions.  She had left behind clothing still with tags, and some that had cigarette burns and such (yes, she was a smoker).  She had an array of prints that reflected a 1930's to 1950's era, and although these were reproductions, they worked.  So, I added these to the stash to make a quilt to hand down.

I found a site that talked about Grandma's Flower Garden, and how it worked to make it, and the site had many links to other areas that discussed this as well.  So I made a hexagon template and went to work making the little pieces that go into this "block".

Actually, I cheated and traced this pattern to cover a sheet of regular paper, and copied the page multiple times onto card stock and basic paper, to get a few hundred of these babies.  It sure beats tracing it over and over and over and over and over and over again.  If you *do* want to trace over and over and over again, you can use up note cards, scrap paper, etc.

Basically you take this template, pin it to a piece of fabric slightly larger than it is, fold the fabric over the template, and baste the fabric to the paper.  All the instructions I've seen have the seam allowance at 1/4 inches, but as I mentioned before, I can't do exact seam allowances...not even in the ball park on this one...but the extra folds over just as nicely and leaves plenty of room for the stitching to come.

When you get some of these together, put them right sides together (pretty fabric sides together), and whip stitch them at the edges, catching fabric and preferably not the paper/cardstock.  If the sides don't match up perfectly, you can ease the longer side to the shorter side using the hand stitching, making the pieces work.  Isn't that a great thing of working by hand--you can fix errors with little to no effort beyond what you're already doing!

When you have your pieces stitched together, remove the papers from the "block".  Remove the tacking stitches that you put in the papers to hold the fabric in place before you pieced them together, and then slip the papers out.  Then, you can reuse these papers for more piecing.

Folks in the older days used papers from letters and such to make these, and sometimes left the papers in for extra insulation.  If you want to do this, by all means go for it.  I will pass this time around.

I have yet to go around mine in a solid color, like white or beige, to create the "walking path" that goes around the colored "garden" blocks.  i haven't decided which color I'd like to do for that at this point.

My plan for this quilt is to put the solid color "walking path" around the blocks, then put them together.  For the edges, rather than leave them as hexagons, I plan to make more of the templates, and cut them in half, so that when they are put in place on the edges, it creates a solid line, which will make it simpler to quilt layers of the top/batting/back and then bind it.  I'd like to make matching shams to go with this as well, using up pieces from loved ones, scraps from my scrap bag, well loved and worn clothing, reusing what is here already.  I'd like to make one for each child and pass them down through them to their kids.

So, if you like to work by hand on crafts, this is a good one to try!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thrifty Modesty

Modesty is a hot topic in the Christian realm, and so it should be.  The world around us flashes more skin than a porn movie, and us Christian adults and our impressionable children are innundated with it.  It's up to us to show our children, by Bible and by modeling, what modesty is.  Granted, each person's view on modest dress is different, and should be led by the Holy Spirit instead of the fashion police, but in the end, we're to dress to glorify Him. 

That all said, finding modest clothing can be rather daunting if you have a small budget.  Our budget is around $2000.00 for a family of 5, for rent/utilities/insurance/medicines for hubby (copays are outrageous even with Medicare if you fall in a doughnut hole--hubby is disabled btw), food, pet care, family basic needs, etc.  Clothing purchases fall to the bottom part of the list.  It has to.  I've found ways to be thrifty and still clothe our family in ways I believe (and hubby agrees with) that is modest and appropriate for how we are trying to teach the kids.  It just took a little creativity. 

The boys and hubby are fairly easy to buy for.  The boys are 10 and 10 1/2 (stepbrothers).  We've taught them that they don't have to have the highest name brands and all the newest things.  They are pretty pleased to get anything that fits them, although Lightning McQueen and Mater and cartoon characters do excite them--they are boys!  When possible, we try clearance racks at Walmart, Bass Pro (yes, we are Bass Pro loving folks), Cabela's, or anywhere we are that has clothing.  BP and Cabela's has the higher quality clothing for boys that can withstand some heavy duty use, and when they are on clearance, they're a steal.  I've heard Macy's, JC Penny's, and others have good sales, but never stepped foot in Macy's (we don't have one here, but can go to Joplin, MO to the nearest one), and Penny's for us is out of the way most of the time, tucked away in a small "mall" at the edge of town. 

For another option, I've tried local thrift shops for the boys.  We have one here in town that's called Four Paws, and the money earned there goes to support the local animal shelters in the county.  I've donated outgrown clothing and items, and turned around and purchased decent clothing when they've had $1 per bag sales.  I purchased all the boys' winter clothing this way late last summer.  I spent maybe $10 for a season of clothing for 2 children, plus vintage linens for me, and they stayed plenty warm and had no problem with finding clothes in their closet.  These were heavy name brand clothing, well made, very little wear, and easily fixable if needed.  Mr. Kevin wears sweats most of the time, due to not being able to really work a zipper/button easily when he needs to urgently handle that (something he works on in OT), and I've been able to affordably find plenty there as well.  Mr. Michael wears jeans most of the time, and I found plenty that were in his size.  Michael, tho 6 months older, gets Kevin's hand-me-downs, as Kevin is larger built and is about a size or two ahead of Michael. 

As the summer heat hits us (beginning in late February/early March this year), the boys are allowed to wear shorts.  Nothing very short, must hit near the knees or lower.  They play soccer, both in the YMCA leagues and at home for grins, they have PE at school, recess as well, and when we can they go to the park to play.  I see no problem with shorts.  Their shirts are mainly solid colors, with occasional cartoon characters, approved by us.  No shirts that show a diabolical look--those are occasionally given to us by Kevin's biological dad as a hand me down from a cousin, but they find homes elsewhere. 

Hubby is easy also to buy for.  He finds clothes through Cabela's and  Bass Pro clearances online, and takes advantage of their free shipping and other sales when we have funds to purchase.  He keeps his clothing for  years, and I fix them.  His dress pants he wears to church and other occasions where they are required (such as when his RN license is in use), his dress shirts the same.  He wears shorts in the summer and around the house, along with T's.  He keeps his palette pretty plain and simple.  He is a plus size, and it's harder to find his clothing in thrift shops.  When I can, I buy them there, but alas, it's not as often. 

Miss Jess in handmade culottes with eyelet and a purchased top

Miss Jess is the easiest for finding modest clothing at a good price.  She's 8, and her dad tells her she is a princess and should dress like one.  Of course she eats it up!  I have found thrift shops are iffy for her.  She wears factory size 12-14, or even a ladies' XS/SM, so I look for ladies' skirts that are a little short and alter them for her.  A ladies' mini or knee length skirt is the perfect length on her (much longer than the original intent of the designer).  With minor alterations at the waist, she has a new skirt.  For tops, we try to stay away from the clingy stretchy style that's so popular.  If it's a T shirt, I buy 2 to 4 sizes larger than her actual measurements in order for it not to be clingy.  I seldom pay full price for a top--there's plenty of clearance year round!

I also sew for Miss Jess.  I've purchased patterns through Candle on the Hill, Fairy Tale Frocks and Lollipops, Olabelhe, Marie Madeline, and other indie designers, along with the Simplicity/McCalls/Butterick patterns.  My go to patterns are mainly from independent ones, with blouses that can be dressed up or down, calf to ankle length skirts, cloches, culottes, etc.  I've designed my own  tiered skirts for her, made jumpers from the Olabelhe Jillian's Jumper pattern, designed a sleeveless dress from the Scientific Seamstress, and tried out other ones on her as well.  I will admit as grows in size finding patterns to fit her AND look modest has become more of a chore.

I can hear you--"fabric is expensive!"  Well, yes, and no.  Sure, if you pay retail for big name designer fabric, you'll easily pay $8 to $15 per yard.  Or, you can find outlets, from Jo-Ann's (they have wonderful sales and coupons), Michael's (with coupons), Terri at Fairy Tale Frocks and Lollipops has been running specials, and then there's many Walmart stores as well.  For a more vintage feel, hit the thrift shops and flea markets for adorable fabrics you won't find anywhere else!

So, the thrifty means for Miss Jess is thrift shops, clearance racks, and mostly sewing by me.  She's fine with that--she loves handmade clothing!

As for me, I'm the hardest to find thrifty clothing for.  I'm the most expensive.  Thrift stores hold mainly vintage fabrics for me, by means of linens.  I'm a plus sized girl, and finding ready to wear items that are modest (new or thrift shop)--may as well search for a needle in 5 haystacks at night without a flashlight.  Oh, I've found a skirt here and there, one I've worn until it's threadbare.  I made a pattern off of it so I can make more. :)  Tops are not so easy to find, as I do not like stretch knits.  I have a few, but they are not at the top of my list. 

My option for affordable clothing is to sew them.  I have a few trusty patterns I rely on, such as a blouse pattern by Coni Crawford, a dress pattern from Candle on the Hill, and my own skirt designs.  I've been able to make a dress for under $10, skirts for $1 to $2, and my aprons are made usually of scraps or vintage linens.

I know there's plenty of other affordable options for modest clothing.  The ones I've shared have worked for us on our limited budget.  Rather than putting out the money, I tend to invest time.  I have more time than money. 

So, this is the Abella's way of being thrifty and modest. :)


What Joy Is Mine

Growing Home