This little gem is a favorite piece in my sewing studio.
It’s a commissioned piece.
Dad was commissioned to build it years ago. That was shortly after mom found the baskets that would be perfect for her quilting projects. I’ve only made wall quilts, so now they hold other sewing projects. Sounds fun, right?
It is! Except that for now they are holding alteration and repair projects. That’s a good thing. Right?
Absolutely! Most of the time. It’s those other moments when I find myself focusing on..
… baskets full of chores, instead of possibilities
… the undone, instead of the done
… how long ago it should have been done, instead of the potential of the day before me.
That’s how the story of redemption feels sometimes…
What if it doesn’t work anyway?
Will it really be worth it?
What if I’m just wasting my time?
Why didn’t I work on it sooner?
Why does it seem to take so very long to come?
Perhaps that’s part of it’s beauty…
The fact that it is a bit of a risk.
The fact that it’s always worth the effort.
The fact that the time required is the very thing that makes it so priceless.
The fact that today always holds the possibility of being the first day.
The fact that in the end, it doesn’t really matter as much if it took a week or a month, what matters is that it happened.
Perhaps if I choose to focus on the possibilities, then today can be the first day. And along the way I get the chance to be part of refining a masterpiece.
Whether it’s a scrap of fabric or the scraps of those tattered days in life.
The chair upholstery project is on hold for a few days or more.
However long it takes, really.
Our G’pa and Grandma Mary came for a visit, and when special company comes everything should be put on hold.
Us girls made big options (those seem to work better than firm plans) for how to spend our time: a visit with their brother at camp, hiking some beautiful trails, an open air jazz concert at a local park and of course some eating out.
As it turns out, the hiking was crossed off the list in lieu of a day spent waking slowly, lingering over coffe cups and constant steady conversation. We hopped through topics from new school schedules, overseas trips, life lessons, finding a car for the newest driver in our midst and pretty much every other topic that popped into our heads.
It was the perfect intermission of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, hiking here in the bluegrass is one of our favorite things to do together. But sometimes, days are better spent lounging around in casual face-to-face conversation. With an occasional nap thrown in, if the opportunity arises.
We did get to see our tall boy, along with more family that we picked up along the way. What a refreshing evening that was. These girls have missed their big brother, and judging by the sheer number of hugs that were exchanged, he feels the same way about them.
The Jazz in the park, another favorite free summer activity … that was rained out. Kind of a bummer. But we wandered around the bookstore perusing travel books and dreaming about the older generation’s next adventure.
As tradition would have it, we opted for a farewell breakfast at our favorite local bakery, Magee’s. We packed away entirely too many calories and sipped coffee and tried to cover all the topics that we had possibly missed in the previous 36 hours.
It was the perfect intermission in what all to quickly has become a packed summer schedule. When the days become too frantic with activity, the perfect solution seems to be an intermission. We were after all created to observe a bit of rest on a regular basis.
And the perfect intermission generally involves people. Not necessarily doing anything terribly exciting.
Just being together.
And being still.
May your summer days be filled with the perfect balance of activity and intermission.
With our oldest daughter married, our son off working at summer camp and our middle girl away for the week, the youngest and I have lots of time together. Just the right time for a little project…
First step? Remove Mason from said project.
then start pulling..
and generally deconstructing…
Until you’re left with an almost nicked chair. On it’s side. Because it turns out that after all that removing, pulling, prying, ripping and deconstructing, you’re pretty okay with it living on it’s side for the evening.
When we get to share a bit more mama-girl bonding time.
I’ve been editing a few pictures of recent events.
I’ve been planning to post about them today.
Like this one. A family hike when our niece came for a surprise visit last month.
That was the plan.
But today, something else came up. Something that required my time. Today.
Years ago a friend described motherhood to me, a very new mom at the time, as a ministry of interruption. She was helping me see that those moments I labeled as interruptions, were often the real ministry. It was how I handled those interruptions that could make or break me.
So for today, the planned post is no longer part of the plan.
Perhaps tomorrow will be its day. Or not.
In the meantime, I’m still working on handling these “interruptions” like the opportunities that they are. I guess we’ll all just have to check back tomorrow to see what happens.
For years, Steve and I have quipped that it seemed impossible for me to raise both children and plants at the same time. Either the plants were watered and the kids were neglected, or the kids were thriving and the plants were thirsty. Very. Thirsty. It wasn’t a cruel comment, just an acceptance of the stage of life we were living in at the time.
But not this spring! Nope! This year there seems to be all sorts of color bursting from the soil.
AND.. Kids in the midst of all sorts of growing up and launching phases of life. The wonder of these two miracles coexisting in perfect harmony makes my Mama heart want to burst some days. Just like the colors in our new window box.
May your weekend be filled with plenty of harmony where you had once believed it could never exist.
What fun I have had sprucing up the front porch this past month…and then some. I have enjoyed so many steps of the process, but I think this final layer is one of my favorites.
The first thing I do whenever we have moved into a new home is to replace all the mini-blinds with curtains. I find them easier to clean, impossible to break, and much cozier than blinds. I’ve always loved curtains fluttering in the breeze of an open window. So naturally, the front porch couldn’t possibly be complete without some curtains to strengthen that invitation to sit a spell and savor the moments of life.
I had originally wanted to use a pece of black pipe for the rod, but we had to change that to a silver cable from IKEA. We had used them in ours previous home, so that made it economical too! Bonus! Both our corner post and the facia against the brick are metal with some dead space between it and the brick, hence the change of plans. My hubby used three eye hooks and some anchors into the brick and the post, to leave the least amounts of damage. We then attached the cable to the eye hooks and we used clips to attach the fabric panels to the cable. When they get soiled, then all I have to do is throw them in the wash. It’ll be grand!
I chose a crinkled white sheer fabric for the curtains. It’s light and airy and, as with many of my projects, it was in my closet as part of my acquired collection of fabrics from my mom’s stash. Her piece was enough for the two panels on the front of the porch and I had an almost identical piece for the side panel.
The porch measures about 8 1/2′ across the front, about 5′ deep and 10′ high. The fabric was crazy wide and I don’t plan to actually close the curtains so I split it down the middle leaving just over 50″ width for each panel. I then cut it the height from the hanging cable to the porch “floor” and added 11″, 5″ for the top hem and 6″ for the bottom hem. I used the same measurements for the side panel.
The first step was to hem the sides of each panel. On the selvaged edges I simply turned the fabric under once and straight stitched it. For the raw edges, where I had ripped the fabric in half, I used a 1″ double hem. When sewing a hem like this I usually use a 1/8″ a 1/4″ stitch closest to the “raw” edge.
Next I cut a 5″ wide strip of interfacing, folded it in the middle, the long way, and ironed it to itself. I notched the ends as I was ironing it to make a long 2 1/2″ wide strip . I used the strip inside the top hem to provide some stability and keep the sheers from ripping because they are so lightweight.
This strip was then added to the 2 1/2″ double hem at the top of the curtains. Usually it’s easiest to iron a double hem first, but that didn’t work this time, because of the fabric content. So, I pinned the fabric along the edge of the interfacing strip, and then folded it again.
With LOTS more pins than I usually use, it worked just fine. I added a row of stitching to the top of the panels, in addition to the stitching at the “raw” edge, to reinforce where the clips would be placed and prevent ripping.
I wanted the bottom hem to be less structured, so I didn’t add interfacing to it. It’s also a little bit deeper than the top hem. I have found that I like a deeper hem at the bottom of curtains. These are 3″ (double hemmed) and about the narrowest I would use for long curtains.
The top of the panel is shown at left, with the clip used to attach it to the cable. The bottom of the panel is on the right. The last step was dragging out the behemoth of a ladder that we have to clip the curtains to the cable way up at the top of the space.
I opted for a double strand of jute rope to tie them back, because it’s such a completely different texture than the curtain themselves. Somehow, completely different textures make a space even cozier. We still need to add a tie back hook for one side, and I think I found the perfect one the other day. That will be on the hubby’s “to do” list for this week. I love that list and the fact that he asks me what he can do every week.
The total cost for this project, including new plants for the bed leading to the porch, was less than $100. Needless to say, it has gone a long way to create an inviting first impression. Even better than a first impression, is the retreat that it has been, whether it’s the few minutes of daily watering or lingering a little longer with a glass of blueberry tea and a good book.
It’s funny how layers of texture, color and different elements can help us peel back the layers of to do lists, frustrations and the stresses of the day. May your day be filled with such moments, regardless of the chaos swirling about.
I think it’s the different shapes in the mountains and the stream.
Or maybe it’s the textures from smooth rocks to rugged branches, from prickly pine needles to soft leaves.
Actually, it’s probably the colors from blues and browns to more hues of green than one can count.
Honestly, it’s the layers upon layers of each of these things. And so many more. It’s what draws us in to pause and savor the moment.
The same concept applies to so many situations. Layering accessories can take the classic little black dress from typical to stunning. Layering paints can bring depth and richness to a piece. Layering cheese upon cheese on a pizza …well, that’s another post. Layering shapes, textures, colors, sizes … It creates a cozy atmosphere in a room. It’s what makes you want to pause and linger awhile.
Last month I started working on sprucing up our front porch, to take it from builder-grade-acceptable to inviting and cozy.
First layer: a complete overhaul of the narrow bed between the garage and sidewalk leading to the porch. That space is now filled with several favorites: hydrangeas, hostas and classic spring favorites tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.
Next layer: some more potted plants to scatter about, a table lamp and some thrifted plaid galoshes.
Third layer: Fabrics! That one is always a favorite for me! After some input from my girls (always a good idea when I want them to enjoy our family space as much as I do) I found a colorful piece of duck cloth. I made an envelope pillow by cutting a long strip of fabric, from selvage to selvage, as wide as the pillow along with and extra inch for seams on both sides. I wrapped the fabric around the pillow to determine where to fold and overlap the fabric, then stitched up the sides (right sides together). Since the selvages were finished and they were going to be covered with a band of another fabric, there was no need to stitch the edges.
Just in case that wasn’t colorful enough, I decided to add two bands, because how could I possibly go wrong with another layer, right?!
The first one is a coordinating print with some chunky ric rac trim. You can see the narrow hem and single row of stitching down the center of the ric rac, I finished the long edges first, then wrapped it around the pillow to get the right measurement (adding 1″ for the seam) and stitched the short ends, right sides together.
The next layer was the same process, after I stamped and wrote a fun little phrase on it. Maybe next time I will print it in a fun subway art style. Time will tell! I like using the bands because they are so easy to switch out for different seasons, or when one starts looking a little tired.
A little waterproof spray to help it hold up a little better and it’s done.
All told it took about an hour or so and I have another colorful layer to add to the porch and soften the concrete and brick. There’s still one more layer to add this week.
And with each new layer the invitation to pause beckons louder. As does the need to accept that call and savor the moments.
Years ago when my mom and dad started leading international mission trips, their favorite line was, “Plan, plan, plan.. adjust, adjust, adjust”. Though it sounds like a quaint little phase, it’s the absolute best way to approach the surprises of such an assignment. Somehow, I can more easily adjust to the surprises and interruptions, if you will, of a two week long trip than those of my day to day life. It’s one of those things I am still learning, typically with more opportunities to apply the truth than I would prefer.
These past two weeks have brought a much-welcomed change of pace here in the bluegrass known as spring. After a long, cold winter it is a much anticipated sight. The pear trees have been in full bloom all over town. They are glorious! But…. with them come our reputation for being one of the worst cities in our nation for seasonal allergies.
Soooo, my “plan, plan, plan” mantra quickly took a back seat to “adjust, adjust, adjust”. There’s no keeping track of the meals and “slack” that my husband and kids have cheerfully picked up. They pretty much rock, but that’s another post.
Some of the other bright spots look a lot like shifting from this…
And then there was the one evening when the girls and I picked up a movie at the library and painted rocks. Because we can! And we did! Here are a few of the little guys to scatter in the flower bed…
Here’s to a week ahead with lots of fun plans. And to a heart that is willing to adjust to whatever or whomever the day brings.
I thought I shared this post two weeks ago, but apparently not. Ah, the learning curve of blogging…
and a few more lessons to add to the ever-growing list…
11. The last evening at the beacI thought I had shared this two weeks ago h should probably be spent on the porch of a local restaurant, listening to the wind blow through the palm trees, eating a grouper sandwich and laughing till it hurts…
12. And it might just be worth snapping a few pictures just to remember the moment, even if they are dark and fuzzy…
13. Goodbyes are always hard
…from fun moments
…sunshine and palm trees
…but mostly from friends…
14. Until the coastline reminds me that each goodbye brings with it the anticipation of yet another hello …
…until next time…
16. The best lesson is in knowing that sometimes our break can come unexpectedly a few weeks before the official spring break. Which means, now I get to enjoy a week with my own kids too. Oh, the anticipation of it all! Wonder what we’ll learn this week?