Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hand made gifts

Its my friends birthday next week and I wanted to make her something special so I made these lavender bags for her clothing. I am really pleased with the end result and I do like the purple and green fabric.  I love handmade gifts, it shows that the giver has gone to a lot of effort to make something unique, just for you. 

Once upon-a-time it was completely normal to make gifts for friends and family.  Only the rich could afford to buy and give gifts, no one else had money to waste. Women would spent their evenings sewing, knitting, embroidering, crocheting to make all sorts of wonderful things to give to others. Each piece was made with love and care. Often the items were practical such as clothing, but they also make pretty doilies, tablecloths and quilts that were then passed down the family.  Men made items out of wood - toys for the children and pretty jewellery boxes for their wives.  Even after a busy day, they still found the time to handcraft gifts for  others.

Those familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder will remember Ma making gifts for the children and how excited they were to receive them. Children in those days were not spoilt with gifts on a regular basis, so they loved it when given gifts that their mother or father had made as it really was a very special treat. 

If  you gave a modern child a handmade item, most would be very disappointed. They want the latest electronic gadget that cost a small fortune and parents are more than willing to cater for their requests. They simply wouldn't appreciate something handcrafted.   These days it is a rarity to receive a handmade gift - women no longer have the time or the skills to make gifts for others. And even more sad, their lack of skill means they are unable to teach their daughters how to make homemade items for others.

One doesn't need to be a great sewer (I am certainly not), just find something that is simple and easy and matches your skill level. If sewing or knitting isn't your forte, perhaps make a batch of biscuits,  brownies, some lemon butter, a loaf of artisan bread, pasta sauce, jam, cupcakes, even one of those cookie mixes in a jar, candles, bath scrubs . . . the list is endless and it is so much cheaper than buying all the time.  Pinterest is over flowing with gift ideas that are cheap and easy to make.

Its worth, when you are next in the dollar store to look out for possible gift ideas, ribbon, jars, boxes, stickers . . . that way you will have a stash of bits and pieces that will make gift making so much easier.

Lets get back to making things with our hands, using our talents to craft something special for someone else.  Lets encourage our children to make gifts and discourage them from wanting the latest toy in the store. We spend a small fortune on toys that don't last and often require batteries - lets get back to basics!!

A few ideas I found on Pinterest
She seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands. 
Proverbs 31:13


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A homemaker is an artist . . .

Flowers on my buffet

Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness.
 Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace. 
(Vermon Baker)

A homemaker is an artist who paints into existence her family's set-apart place or haven, which becomes like heaven in the sense of ultimate rest.  The house or apartment, as well as the area surrounding it - whether concrete or garden - together become a canvas upon which the homemaker can create the perfect shelter for those whom she loves most in the world. She is seeking to combine comfort with a style that fits her family. Much of creating this prepared place lies in the art and accessories to be used. These times usually are not newly purchased on mass but rather are gathered over a lifetime, expressing who you are and what you like, a distinctive place in your own world and one in which every family member can see himself. 

~ from The Christian homemakers handbook, page 57


The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
(Proverbs 14: 1)

Monday, October 20, 2014


Procrastination the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the "last minute" before the deadline.

Who procrastinates?

Be truthful?

Procrastination is deliberately (wilfully) delaying what we ought to be doing for what ever reason, often due to laziness.  It is putting off work that should be done today, until tomorrow, or the next or the next. 

Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)

I was one of those students at school who did my homework at the last minute, except for the title page and drawings, as that was fun and often (at primary school) involved coloured pencils and being creative. I put off what was hard for as long as possible. This, of course, made life much more stressful as I had to rush the most difficult part at the last minute.  I continued down this path well into adulthood - but in the end, we cannot put off the inevitable so one needs to learn strategies to avoiding procrastination. 

Why do we procrastinate? The reasons are many and varied:
  • To avoid an unpleasant task (e.g. cleaning the bathroom)
  • Avoiding an overwhelming or complex project
  • Afraid or fearful (avoiding a unpleasant phone call)
  • Fear of failure
  • or just plain laziness - finishing off a book is far more enjoyable/exciting than cleaning one's house (and the Bible has plenty to say about being lazy, slothful, slack).

Instead of getting on with the task or project, many women will do everything else to avoid starting - and that might include, reading another chapter of a favourite book, chatting with the neighbour, spending far longer than necessary on the computer or phone, watching TV, or doing a favourite hobby . . . they are very good at coming up with excuses why they can't start. 

We all need to keep our homes clean and tidy, we all need to buy food and cook meals for the family, we need to wash and iron the clothes, do the finances, care for our children and our husbands and some of us work outside the home etc... We can not avoid doing these tasks no matter how much we delay them. In fact, the longer we delay, the bigger the buildup up of chores and that doesn't create a pretty sight - leading to  stress and the feeling of being out of control. None of us have maids to do these jobs we need to stop wasting precious time and get one with them!  We need:

the RIGHT attitude
JOYFUL heart
and ultimately remember who we are serving . . . the LORD (and He doesn't like laziness).

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. (Colossinas 3:23)

So what should we do if procrastination is a problem:

  • Grab a cup of tea, a note pad and sit somewhere comfort.
  • Start by praying, asking God for guidances and wisdom. 
  • Then look at all the tasks you have and prioritise them. . . what is important and what is not as important, what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or ad hoc. 
  • Tick those jobs you enjoy doing.
  • Divide the tasks into manageable parts so they no longer look overwhelming - for example, you don't need to dust the entire house at once - perhaps do the living room on one day and the remaining house on another.  Or get your children involved.
  • Draw up a schedule for each day of the week (perhaps on a large sheet of paper, magnet board or cork board) and start allocating tasks to days of the week: e.g. washing on Monday mornings and ironing in the afternoon, clean the bathroom on Tuesdays, shopping on Fridays. When creating your schedule, don't forget to mix the not so nice jobs along with the fun jobs as it will give you variation and help with procrastination. Some women turn these into elaborate binders (like this one) - do what suits you, I'm not a binder sort of gal!
  • If your find your schedule is too full - look at what you can stop - weight up the pros and cons of dropping an activity and make a wise decide. And don't toss out all the nasty jobs and keep the enjoyable ones. 
  • Don't forget to add bible study into your schedule. 
  • Don't fill your schedule completely - remember, life is full of the unexpected, every schedule needs to be flexible to cater for the unexpected, so don't panic if the ironing isn't finished because you had an emergency. It isn't about how much you do, its about how you spend your time.
  • Always built in time for pleasure - reading, a quiet afternoon, visit friends/family, sewing, going for a walk, just sitting in the sun. Your day should not be filled with  only work, it is important to also do enjoyable activities. Taking care yourself is just as important as taking care of the family and home.
  • A good nights sleep is important, whilst it doesn't need to be scheduled (!), make sure your work doesn't go too late into the evening. In fact, try and keep your evenings free - time for your family. 

If this is really difficult, I would suggest you find someone to help, such as a Titus 2 woman to help as it isn't easy for everyone and not everyone is born with strong organisational skills.  Two heads are far better than one.  There are also a number of great Christian books on the market that are very helpful, including Elizabeth George's "Life Management for Busy Women" and "The Christian Homemakers Handbook". Others I am sure can recommend useful books. 

If you do have to undertake an unpleasant task, get it done first thing in the morning . . . the longer you wait, the more stressful you become and you are more likely to find ways of putting it off. If it was a very difficult or arduous, reward yourself once completed e.g.  30 mins in the sunshine with a book or perhaps morning tea. Having something to look forward to, does make an unpleasant task much easier to do. 

Finally, it you have children, it is very important to teach them from an early age to not procrastinate, it is skill that they will be very thankful for later in life. 

Use your time wisely, don't waste it. We need to live as if each minute counts, as they do.

Putting an end to procrastination is important and biblical.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Paintings by Deborah De Witt


Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sewing patterns

Since I started sewing almost 2 years ago, I have been building my pattern collection so I have a range of different outfits I can try my hand at. With McCalls/Butterick's having a pattern sale this week, I thought I would spoil myself and buy 4 new patterns. Whilst it can be difficult to find feminine clothing in the store, there are plenty of modern patterns that are lovely and feminine and you can alter the hem length, neckline or add sleeves if you so wish. 

I am still a novice at dressmaking but I am willing to trying things that perhaps are out of my comfort zone. A few months ago I lined a dress and was so pleased with the end result I will certainly do it again - in fact I surprised myself with how well it worked. Youtube is an excellent source for sewing tips and tutorials.

My next sewing project will be one of the dressers below - they all look great for summer and very suitable for work.

To help with my sewing and hopefully do away with the need to buy some patterns, I have purchased two courses from Craftsy "Pattern-making basic: The bodice sloper" and "Pattern-making basic: The skirt sloper". If you haven't used Craftsy courses before, I would highly recommended them - some are free and others have a cost and I just wait for them to have sales and both these courses I purchased for 50% discount. I have been using one of their free quilting courses to help with a quilt I'm making and have found it very useful.  I have also purchased a bread making course (sour dough) and can't wait to do it.  In fact these would make excellent courses for homeschooling and once purchased, you keep them for life. 
Butterick B4386

Aren't these just lovely and what a great length and neckline. My favourite would have to be the black and white square neck that the model is wearing. 

McCalls M3129
I find jackets expensive so I thought I would try one myself - how hard can it be!!! I will let you know!

McCalls 6996
McCalls 7022

I've never sewn a pleat before - first time for everything!!!
Butterick 4933 - an old pattern I use to own and glad I found it (uncut) on Ebay.  This one covers the tummy so ideal for me!!
Blouses are so expensive so I would love to make my own - got these two patterns to practice my skills - these would be great in summer.  I have just ordered some cotton fabric from Hawthorne Threads to try and make the Butterick pattern above
And finally, I just love this WW2 style skirt - I plan to make the grey skirt with its pointed front and two pleats. I think it will look very elegant. Just need to find the right fabric!!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What devotionals do you read/recommend?

I am currently searching for a new devotional in preparation to when I finish the one I am currently reading.

What would you recommend?

What do you look for in a devotional - aimed only at women, one for mothers, one that works it's way through the bible, random topics?

What is your current devotional?

When do you read your devotional - morning/night/anytime during the day?

My current devotional is The Excellent Wife: Day by Day by Karen Eiler. This is a 5-days-a-week devotional that aims at helping women become a godly wives, mothers and women. It presents hundred of common scenarios (some far too common and close to home!) and provides biblical responses - God's way of responding with love and grace. It is designed to reinforce the biblical truths taught in "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace. It is a very practical devotional which is one of the reasons why I am enjoying it so much. I use this with a journal and take notes each night which helps reinforce the messages in the book. I will be sad when I come to the end of this devotional. 

The Joy for the Journey Devotional is a great little book that I read every night before I go to bed. Whilst it is promoted as a day/night read, I perfect to read the devotional and the three bible verses all at once. It is a lovely way to end the day and is certainly a favourite of mine. It looks at issues that relate especially to women (but not exclusively issues relating to women) such as paring down your schedule, choosing a positive attitude, serving others, trusting in the Lord, joyful heart etc. It is a beautifully presented book which makes reading it extra special. 

I also dip into some online devotionals (that I have on my phone as apps) such as "Our Daily Bread" which I quite enjoy and "The Word for Today" which is also thought provoking.

Looking forward to hearing your options. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

I am not superwoman

She watches over the ways of her household (Proverbs 31:27)


I am not a superwoman and I don't even try to be one.

I only do what I can manage and nothing more.

This means some jobs are left for another day. 

I only have 1,440 minutes in every day and some of that time I'm sleeping - I can only do so much. 

Don't stress about the things you haven't manage to achieve today and don't try and do too much in one day. Whatever you can't manage will still be waiting to be done tomorrow. Working out what is important by prioritising your activities is a good way of organising your day. Making my husband a home-cooked healthy meal each day is far more important that dusting the house. The dust isn't going anywhere but my husband's health might! However washing the clothes on a regular basis is important otherwise we will run out of clothing. Likewise, keeping the pantry well stocked is something I need to keep on top of - not good to run out of my husband's favourite foods. 

Many women read Proverbs 31 and feel overwhelmed and guilty that they cannot match the amount of work they do compared to the noble woman of chapter 31. And no, most of us couldn't manage everything she did or certainly not for any length of time.  What we need is her "attitude" to work rather than the amount of work she did. Remember, she also had maids, we don't!

She was: 

Passionate in whatever she did: she put her heart into every tasks she undertook. Whilst housework can be dull at times, or even for me having to go off to an office during the day may not be my hearts desire, but that doesn't stop us from doing our tasks with passion and with joy (and a smile). Notice that our noble lady never grumbled or wished for something better or more exciting. 

Wise in all her undertakings: She made intelligent business decisions, she choose her words wisely, she thought before she acted. In our modern day world, using our time wisely is so important. We can be easily be distracted by the internet, the TV, by magazines, by shopping malls, coffee with friends. And whilst there is nothing wrong with these activities - all things in moderation. This isn't just a problem for the modern woman, Paul asked the older women (in Titus 2) to teach the younger women to be homemakers because like modern women, they were "too busy" with their friends gossiping and meddling. 

Trustworthy and had integrity: Her children and her husband had complete confidences in her and knew that she would do "good and not evil". She was a woman that could be trusted with all that she did. She didn't do any shifty deals under the table, her business dealings were honest and above board. 

Selfless in serving others, not only her family, but "extending her hand to the poor and needy". We too can help those less fortunate (or older), perhaps by lending a hand to a neighbour - my neighbour has trouble bending and has a dodg  hip so I help out where I can, it was weeding the other day. 

Gracious in her kindness to other, in her speech and her readiness to be hospitable. She was the sort of woman that worked with a smile of her face and never grumbled when asked to help or when unexpected visitors arrived. 

Content with her life, she didn't spend all her time dreaming of something better or different, she accepted the role God had given her and got on doing the very best she could. She was at peace and remained positive.  I could constantly go on about having to work in an office, or I can accept my situation and thank the Lord that it fits in well with my family - find the positive in whatever we do. Being content is a choice and if not learnt, can lead to a miserable life. 

Courageous, for she was not anxious about the future because she knows that whatever happens, she can trust the Lord. Her trust never wavers and nor should ours, even when we are thrown something unexpected and difficult. And if the Lord does take us out of our comfort zone, we need to have the courage to trust. 

As you can see from this list, these seven qualities aren't about the amount of work the noble woman of Proverbs 31 did, its about her attitude when doing her work that is important. No one expects you to be a superwoman, no one expects you to go to bed exhausted every night or be completely stress out about your long to-do-list. However, whatever you do, do it with a cheerful heart, with contentment and grace, with love, joy and for the Lord. And remember, you cannot do anything without God, nothing.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

And . . . don't compare yourself to other women. Some women are able to do amazing amounts of activity in a day and still have the energy to do more. But most of us can't. Be realistic. 

And . . . if you are really struggling with managing your home, getting yourself organised and creating a schedule, trying to find the right balance - find yourself a Titus 2 woman who can help you through these issues. Two heads are far better than one. No one should have to struggle on their own and we aren't expected to. And if you are an older woman, look out for those young women who are struggling and lend a hand, they really need your help. 

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

The seven qualities of a beautiful woman used in this post are from Cynthia Heald excellent book's "Uncommon Beauty: 7 qualities of a Beautiful Woman" . I would highly recommend this book, it contains many little treasures that show us how to be beautiful women, but not the beauty of the modern woman, but of a Godly woman. 



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