Friday, July 25, 2014

Writing Letters

I've been wondering a lot recently about what my Christian life looks like now that I'm a stay at home mum. Previously, I was a teacher, and it was easy to see that work as my mission field. The students, the staff, the parents even, were the ones I was called to share the gospel with. I'm wasn't neglecting other areas of my life, certainly, I'd say I prayed for my friends, family and church just as much, but the drive to work kind of highlighted for me that I was going somewhere God had placed me to do his work.

Now, I don't have a drive to work. I don't have several classes of students to manage, and to try to see as God sees them. There are no people in my staff room to encourage or uphold. There are no parents to teach me patience.

What am I doing? I wonder. I want to use every opportunity to have God's good news on my lips, but I'm lacking the vast number of people to share it with. Sure, I'm meeting new people at the park, but I have to meet them repeatedly, to be able to build up that rapport. Yep, I've got my girls to teach everyday, but they are currently 18 months and four weeks. Hardly ready for a gospel smack down.

In bible study, we are reading through Acts (apparently, we've been doing Acts for more than six months now, but it doesn't seem that long to me). At the end of chapter 24, Paul is in prison. In fact, he's been there for two years.

It strikes me that Paul, who is pretty obsessed with using every chance he gets to share the gospel, was determined to get to Rome to do that work. In fact, God had told him (Acts 23:11) that he would get to do just that. And now here Paul is, stuck in prison (or under house arrest, but either way, not really heading to Rome anytime soon).

We were discussing this last Wednesday night, and someone said "What was he doing for two years?" To which the answer is: writing letters. Paul used his time to write letters to the churches he had started, to encourage, build, correct, direct and instruct. Without Paul's two years in jail, we wouldn't have a substantial amount of the New Testament.

So maybe this is my time to write letters. I may not be in a position to be sharing the gospel to lots of people, or even planting churches like Paul was, but I am in a position to encourage those people I have around me in my life. I can be writing letters to build up my fellow Christians. I can be praying for them. Even though I feel like this is a rather stagnant time of life, God has a purpose for it, just as he had a purpose for Paul's time in jail.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Coming Along Nicely

The rather not-so-secret Christmas presents I've been working on are coming along nicely. I have everything I need to get them finished. I've been taking photos of my progress (which I can't share with you). That said, I'm taking a break now though so I can get onto making something for my sister's upcoming birthday.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Different Kind of Bunting

Sophie is the kind of cool kid who wakes up from a big sleep, or a nap, and is not bothered by the fact that she is trapped in her cot. She (so far) has not really been in any rush to get out. No big screams, or calls for mum. I am thankful for this. Instead, she usually just has a little chat to herself.

I noticed some time ago though, that even though we moved all the necessary furniture items to her new room for her, the things that were on the wall in the nursery, didn't move with her. So in Sophie's new room, the walls are actually blank. Very blank. While she's chatting to herself there, all alone in the room, it must be pretty boring with  nothing to look at. I had several ideas about how to fix this, but I finally decided what the room really needed was some bunting. 

I don't really have the time now to be making the intense kind of bunting I'm prone to making, but I whipped this stuff up out of some felt and it now decorates Sophie's room nicely. It makes the room just that little bit more fun. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vest Upcycle

Recently, when not working on publishing my writing (eek!), looking after my girls, or any of those various house-hold things that a stay at home mum does, I've been making a vest for Sophie. We got her one from Coles on sale that is not really big enough, but I figured I could trace the pattern and make a new one for her. Excellent chance to use snaps and practice quilting things. Hooray!

 So I've done just that. It took a little longer than I expected, because I get distracted by things and then I think about things, and then I try to take short cuts and have to unpick a whole lot of things, but I managed to finish it off during last Monday's nap time.

The black material is actually an old hoodie of Steve's (affectionately called "Pintsize" (the name of the little android on the front)). I knew I'd been saving it for something and I'm glad to see it live again. And that pocket on the front right (left as you look at it) is still usable. Yay! The frog stuff is another random hand me down from who knows where. Steve liked both materials, and wanted me to make it reversible. Yeah right. Instead, I flipped the back panel, so the fun frogs are out and the boring black is in. I like it.

As with most things I sew, it's big. In fact, it might not fit Sophie for another two years or so, but at least it's ready. Can't call me unprepared! This was Sophie wearing it this morning (with her frog hat on backwards, hilarious. :D)

This vest marks the  best binding job I've ever done though. Hooray! I'm progressing in life! I bought three meters of the stuff from Spotlight thinking it would be plenty. This was all I had left:

So glad I didn't have to go back for more.

Friday, July 18, 2014


There it is everyone! If you were to go to right now and type in "Just As It Should", the first result would be my story. Published! (You can also get it in the kindle store, and other electronic-book-store-type places. Just saying.)

The final uploading of everything last night took a lot longer than I expected. It's not just about pushing one button. There are various steps and things you have to check before you can finally upload your precious book. But it is done. I pushed the Publish button last night and at 1:00 am my book was available. (Thank you early morning motherhood duties for waking me at that unsightly hour.)

I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me get here, though I'm not going to try to mention everyone specifically, because I'll miss someone and then I'll have offended friends. No one wants that. Steve though, gets a mention, because he's my husband! Super work husband, for supporting me (even if you read the story so long ago now that you can't actually remember what it's about :P). I love being married to you. Also, I just want to mention, I had the cover art done by Ellie, from Taffy and Twine who was just fabulous. Highly recommend her works.

Now, I breath a contented sigh and realize I'm a published author. Not one who is going to make a lot of money or probably have any fame, but published none the less. Hooray!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sometime Soon

I think I'm finally in the last part of getting things together to get my first book published! Eek! Story written: Check. Editing done: Check. Proof reading complete: Check. Formatting finished: Check. Cover art acquired: Check.

Now all I need to do is to get it into the Amazon store, and then anyone with an electronic device can down load it. My original goal was to have this done before Rachel was born. New goal is to have it done by Saturday. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Order in the Chaos

Talking to Steve yesterday, we were discussing who would do what menial task before we had to head off to church. Taking the washing off the line or doing the washing up. (Gosh, it's moments like these that you know you are a real grown up adult person. :P Sigh. I suppose it had to happen sometime.)

I say: "I'd rather take the washing off the line, because I can do it in order so it's easy to put away. It's the little things like this that remind me that there is a small amount of order in my otherwise chaotic life. It makes me happy."

Steve replies: "Don't your two daughters make you happy?"

"Not like the washing; they are responsible for all the chaos."

Friday, July 04, 2014

Mum's Birthday Present: An Unexpected Journey

Today, we celebrated my Mum's birthday, which means I can finally share with you the epic story I talked about back in May. I have to say, I'm pretty excited to share it with you, in all it's epic-ness!

Firstly, my goal this year, to minimize painful shopping experiences, be a bit thrifty, get some sewing practice in and also just for general enjoyment, was to make the majority, if not all, the birthday presents we were going to give. Mums are tough to buy for, let alone make for, but this year, I actually thought of something perfect.

In their guest room, my parents have a beautiful wooden chest (Mum's Glory Box) which the guests put their suitcases on. When this happens, Mum puts a ratty old towel over the thing to protect it from suitcase scratches. Effective, but pretty ugly. The guest room has recently been redecorated with a Paris theme, and so I thought I could easily make a cover for the chest that would be practical and pretty at the same time. Excellent.

On a day I know Mum will be out, I call home and get Dad to measure the chest for me. I think about how much material I'll need and even sketch a diagram in my sewing book. A quick trip to Spotlight and I've got my material (which was on sale, bargain!). This was way back in, gosh, I don't know, April maybe? Needless to say, I got a busy/sidetracked with some other things and the material sat on the shelf for a while. That's ok.

Come May, I know that time is swiftly creeping away from me, so I should get onto turning that material into the cover I've been dreaming about. I get out the material, I check the sewing book to see how long I need it to be. I notice that in the sewing book I've actually got two measurements. One on the sketch and one in a list on the side. The measurements don't match. Oh no. Which one do I take? A meter or a meter and ten centimeters? 10 cm seems small, but actually, it's a big difference in weather or not a cover will fit a box.

Alas, I'll have to call Dad again to get the measurements. Knowing Mum's at home (making my sneaky call from a few months ago completely futile) I just call anyway and get Dad to remeasure. He takes his trusty handy-man measuring tape (you know, the kind you use to make a desk, or build a house) and gives me the measurement. 1005. Got it.

So I go to my material, I measure a meter and five centimeters. I re-measure. I check it again, then I cut. I lay out the material and realize that I've cut it at a meter. Not a meter five. Gah!! What happened? I've no idea. Sigh! So I do a patch job, no one is going to notice it anyway, it's a fairly quick fix. Done.

I patiently hand stitch the batting in place, put the lining on and sew everything together. Looking good. The thing is completely reversible, all the seams are hidden, very pro looking (except for those nearly-invisible patches, I suppose) and I am well pleased. Keeping in the Paris theme of the room, I decide I'll quilt the layers together with an Eiffel Tower. Done.

Not sure that one tower is ok, or if it just looks a bit stupid, I show it to my bible study group on Wednesday night for feedback. Sarah and Kellie agree, there should be more towers. As I show everyone, I enthrall them with the tale of the measuring/cutting story. There is a bit of silence and then Sarah's Steve says: "Isn't 1005, a meter and five millimeters, not 5 centimeters?"

Oh no. He's right! Dad gave me the measurements in handy-man-measuring-tape form, and I translated them into sewing-person-measurements, but I've done it wrong! Now, the cover is officially ten centimeters too long! My initial cut would probably have been fine after all. Now, the thing, thanks to the patching job, is too big!!

I cannot believe it. What to do? Unpicking and resewing would take ages, especially given the reversible nature of the cover. And then it would mean that the extra towers won't fit because the measurements won't work. GAH!!

It's nearly Mothers day, so Sarah suggests that I sneak it over and check it while Mum is distracted by our Steves and she'll let me know if it's ok. Whew. Mothers day comes and yes the cover is slightly big, but it's not the end of the world and Sarah says it will be fine. Crisis averted.

I take it home and I quilt the other towers on. Looking good. I'm loving it. It's a bit long, but that's ok. All that's left now is to throw it in the wash to get rid of the pencil marks I drew the Eiffel Towers on with. Fabulous. The next day, I'm doing a load of washing. Great! It's nappies. I pause for a moment. Will the nappies hurt the cover somehow? Nah, I think to myself, it's just washing, everything will come out clean in the end. In it goes.

I was right about the nappies not hurting the cover. What I didn't expect was the cover to hurt the nappies. That's right folks; the red material I used as lining (which had been sitting in the stash for a while (some hand-me-down material that I got from who knows where)) really should have been washed before I used it, because the red ran and made everything that was previously white turn pink. Now we have pink nappies. That's not so much of a problem. What is a problem is that the white writing on the blue material that I got for the cover is now pink. GAH!!!

I cannot believe this new turn of events. What do I do?? Then I think, wait, it's ok, I've turned nappies pink before (when I washed the picnic blanket with them) but because they were being soaked and washed and used on such a regular basis, they went back to being white again. Eventually. So all I need to do to fix this, is to soak and wash the cover several more times and we should be back to normal.

Five washes later, I'm over this stupid cover. Even if the words are still a little pink, I don't care. Mum's just going to have to use the side that was originally lining as the main and the other side as lining. That's all there is to it. A final press and I still like this cover. In fact, I may even love it, despite it's complications and the sheer amount of times I was foiled by it's mere existence. I know that I could have gone and bought a cover for the chest and it may have taken less time, but I wouldn't have the great story that I have now. This cover has a history. It's got character.

Steve's version of this story, which I have told to you now in over 1000 words, goes something like this: You  decided to make a cover, cut it wrong, sewed it anyway and then washed it. Yes Steve, that is a good albeit boring summary of the epic tale.

When Mum opened it and found out what it was, she said it was just what she wanted for the room, and despite my epic story of mistakes and troubles, it was very well done. I feel I've done something good here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Bee and the Flowers

I know I've been pretty vague about what I'm working on sewing wise at the moment (see here and here if you don't know what I'm talking about) because they are going to be Christmas presents for some friends, but I'm way too excited not to share the latest in this adventure. The final product will have nine interactive squares, and last night, I finished the last of the nine.

This was certainly the most fiddly of all the squares (probably why it was left until last). I've really gotten to know that blanket stitch on Sally the Sewing Machine very well over the last few nights. It all looks pretty standard to start with; flowers, bee hive, boring right? But then notice the rings! And look - from that bee hive, comes a bee!

And the bee goes to the flowers!

And gets nectar from all of them! Good work Mr Bee!

Yes, I know the bee in these pictures seems to be lacking stripes. I'm being lazy and I couldn't be bothered sew them on. Give me a break, I gave birth to a child last week! I drew the stripes on with a sharpie (after these photos were taken, sorry people. You get the idea though, I'm sure).

All in all, I'm stoked with how it looks and works. What great lacing practice for some unsuspecting child! They think they are playing with a bee and some flowers, but really, they are working out those fine motor skills! Yeah for learning!