Friday, March 30, 2012

April Fool's

I really don't like practical jokes or pranks.  Really.  

So my favorite April Fool's tricks involve getting creative with food.  And that's really as far as I take it.  But I think most of you know that I love any chance to make something creative with food.

In case you're looking for some ideas this weekend for April Fool's Day, here are my favorite ideas.  

Click on the link below the photo to visit the original source.

Find all the above ideas at Hoosier Homemade here and here
Visit Tip Junkie for 37 April Fools Pranks


A Little Perspective

If you've been on my blog at all lately, you know that I've been crazy busy sewing costumes for my church's Easter play.  The costumes took over my life for the last six weeks.

Today is my first day emerging from Costume World.  I can't decide if I should clean my nasty house (ew), get started on the rest of my craft to-do list, do something relaxing, bake (ahhhh), or try to be a super fun Magoo mom.  Before I figure out what to do today, I need to dump some thoughts from my head.

When I took that last costume to church last night, I was feeling quite exhausted and fairly cranky.  Then I saw all the actors, the director, the people working on the set, and people babysitting the actors' children.  I suddenly thought that my job was nothing compared to how hard all these people are working.  In just a few minutes my perspective changed.

Side note:  My perspective has not changed about The Pink Lady's top.  I can't stop thinking about how it's too big and I don't want to stamp my name on it.  Someone needs to help me get the top back from her so I can fix it.  Or I need a perfectionism intervention.

In addition to working overtime on the costumes, I have also been struggling with a couple health issues for the last couple of months.  It's unbelievable how much a little pain can suck the fun out of everything else.  Just ask my husband; I've been grumpy.

I had another doctor's appointment this week and was given yet another medication to try.  It was Wednesday, and I was planning on finishing the last costume that evening.  I took the first pill at dinner time.  A little while later, I was so overcome with drowsiness that I could barely talk.  Jared sent me to lay down on the couch while he took the kids outside to play.  {What would I do without Jared?}

This gave me a rare opportunity to watch TV.  In the last couple of months, my television viewing has consisted of listening to Chopped and Cupcake Wars while I worked on the costumes.  

Wednesday evening I landed on TLC's 19 Kids and Counting.  In this episode, Michelle and JimBob had announced they were expecting their 20th child.  They had a big family meeting to list possible baby names on the night before Michelle's sonogram to find out the gender of the baby.

The next morning Michelle and JimBob excitedly and nervously went to the doctor for the sonogram.  It did not go as they expected.  The sonogram tech could not find the baby's heartbeat.  They estimated that the baby had passed away at around 16-17 weeks.  The shocked parents tried to understand the news that they were hearing.  Michelle closed her eyes and said through a very tight lump in her throat, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

These heartbroken parents cried and prayed together.  Then they had to go home, gather all their children together (as all the kids asked over and over if they knew the gender of the baby), and tell their children the unthinkable news.  Three days later Michelle delivered the body of their tiny daughter, Jubilee Shalom.  This brave family allowed the camera crew to be present at their daughter's funeral and heart-wrenching burial.  

A lot of people would have looked at these circumstances and the timing of it all and used it as a reason to be angry with God.  But this family praised God in the midst of their grief.  What an example.

I've never buried my own child, but there was a time that I thought I was going to have to.  So many of you already know the story, so I won't tell it in full now, but my pregnancy with Griffin was full of difficulties.  The absolute lowest point in our marriage was the time Jared and I had to discuss how to pay for Griffin's funeral.  God had mercy on us and restored Griffin's health and life.  

I spend a little too much time caught up in the daily difficulties, and I forget to be grateful that I have children to wear me out.  I am fully aware of the pain that couples go through just trying to get pregnant.  I do not take for granted how easily I got pregnant and carried my babies to term.  But when I'm trying to get Griffin to cooperate at the dentist's office, I have a tendency to forget to be grateful for his life.

I have had stabbing pain and nausea every time I eat for almost two months.  But this health issue helped me to maintain my weight loss when my exercise took a backseat to costuming.  Instead of griping that God didn't take away my pain while I was working on a project for Him, I can be grateful that He helped me to continue to work toward other goals in the midst of all the craziness.  

The other morning, while Nolan was at school and Griffin and Nora were at a church children's program, I had the opportunity to run some errands by myself.  I decided to look for some capris for myself now that it's warming up (and last year's capris are too big!).  In the middle of a women's clothing store, I ran into an elderly couple who were friends with my precious grandparents for about 200 years (give or take).  Pat and Kenny are about to celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary.  Pat has had a debilitating disease for 18 years that has put her in a wheel chair and affected her movement and speech.  And Kenny took her out shopping for some new spring clothes.

I talked to these amazing folks right in the middle of the store for quite a while.  Kenny told me about two of their grandsons (now adults) who have made some bad choices and gotten in some trouble.  "As long as they're still breathing, there's still time," Kenny said.  We talked about how God has used Kenny over the years, not because he's perfect but because he is willing.  All it takes is a willing spirit.

I wasn't expecting an encounter with God in the middle of Fashion Bug, but I got it.  Overwhelmed with emotions of aching for my grandparents and feeling grateful for God speaking to me through his faithful servants, I cried in the middle of the store.  What a beautiful picture of love.  The love of this married couple living out "in sickness and in health."  The love of these grandparents for their grandsons.  The love of God deeply rooted in their hearts, nurtured for decades and still growing.  And the love that God has for these two precious children who faithfully serve Him (even if what He asked them to do was go to Fashion Bug on a random morning to minister to a fellow shopper).

My life is richly blessed.  God doesn't let me get too far off course before he shows me someone who has a heavier load than I do.  Someone has cancer.  Someone has exhausted every option and still can't get pregnant.  Someone is silently overwhelmed caring for a loved one.  Am I really complaining about my house being gross or not being able to use my time as I wish?  My chronic pain has genuinely been exhausting, but I'm still a fully functioning person.  

If you're depressed by your circumstances or frustrated with the way things have been going, I dare you to find someone who has it worse than you do.  It won't take long.

Last night I read this quote:  "The grass is always greener where you water it."  {Read more here and here.}  So true.

Here's another quote I love:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  {Romans 8:28}
Sometimes we see it all woven together and the praise and gratitude flow effortlessly from our hearts.  And sometimes we have to accept that we just won't understand as long as we're on this earth.  

Today I know that my two-year-old called her new nightlight "awesome" and that Griffin called Nolan "Buddy."  Every day I live John 1:16..."From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."  I have the choice of recognizing those blessings or not.

I don't claim to have learned this lesson once and for all.  There will be new challenges that might get the best of me momentarily.  But if I can stick to what I read in my Bible and what God teaches me through fellow shoppers, I will be able to stay on the right track.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  {Philippians 3:12-14}
 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  {2 Corinthians 4: 8-9, 16-18}


Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Finish Line

It is finished.

Of course, I mean I finished the last costume I'm making for Pekin First Church of the Nazarene's Passion Play.  

If you want to learn more about the Easter story and hear why Jesus said, "It is finished," you should definitely come see the play April 3rd-6th and 8th.  

And now...

I present to you...

The Pink Lady:

Jared's favorite suggested name (thank you Megan!) was "It's Not As Easy As You Would Pink."  I decided to go with The Pink Lady since it would be shorter to type.

You know two colors that are difficult to photograph?  Fuchsia and gold.  Oh, and I figured out the correct spelling of fuchsia.

I had a hard time capturing the colors, and it's gray and gloomy here today (so no natural light).  Let me just reassure you that the top and skirt match a little better in real life than they appear in these photos.

You may recall that the pattern I was given was not the correct size, so I purchased this pattern:

I used the skirt pattern but added some length to it.  I also used the top from this pattern for The Pink Lady.

I made the skirt the same way I made the gold skirt, but this one doesn't have the overlays.  

The pink sparkly satin I was given for this skirt is slightly transparent.  I worried a bit about this woman getting on stage with all those lights and showing the audience a little more than she intended.  So I bought some pinkish-purplish cotton fabric to use as lining.

Inside the waistband

Inside the bottom of the skirt

I made buttonholes in the waistband and used the same gold cord as a drawstring that I had used for The Golden Girl.  

I had leftover gold ric rac from the Easter Genie, so I applied that to the bottom of the skirt.

The top for this costume was made out of this beautiful woven fabric that has a gold border on it.  

This beautiful fabric did a very ugly thing when I cut it.  It rolled

The above picture shows the actual bodice pieces I had cut.  Below are the fabric trimmings from when I cut out the pattern pieces.  Sorry about the blurry photos.

 For the neckband of this top, I used some gold satin scraps left over from the gold costume.

You can also see (most of you probably wouldn't notice) that I photocopied the pattern pieces for the neck bands and facings.  Patterns come with multiple sizes printed on each pattern piece.  For The Pink Lady, I needed to cut the middle size.  I didn't want to cut off the outside lines because then the pattern can't be used for those sizes later.  I could eyeball it for most pieces, but these were so curvy and I just couldn't get it right.  So I copied the pieces (so glad they fit on my copier!) and cut directly on the size I needed. 

The finished top has a square neckline in the front:

Seriously, why doesn't anyone iron these costumes before I photograph them??

And the back has a rounded neckline:
I cut the bodice pieces so the decorative fabric border would be the hem of the shirt.  I thought some decorative trim would look nice hanging from the hem over the somewhat plain skirt. 

Throughout the weeks that I've been sewing these costumes, I've made many mistakes.  Most of them were either completely redone correctly or covered up in some way.  But I did make a mistake on this top, and I just left it.   

There are facings (pieces of fabric) that run along the underarm on the inside of the top.  They are supposed to be the same fabric as the outside of the top so no one would ever notice them.  Well, I got a little confused because those facing pattern pieces looked an awful lot like the neckband pattern pieces, so I cut the facings out of gold satin instead of the fuchsia fabric with the gold pattern woven in. 

I didn't notice the error until I had the facings halfway sewn in.  I really didn't want to start over and cut out new fabric pieces, cut new interfacing pieces, iron the interfacing to the fabric, serge the edges, and then sew them in.  So I just went with it.  I'm hoping no one looks at this chick's underarms while she's acting.

And finally, I had to make a head covering to go with the costume.  I had a length of sheer fuchsia fabric, and I just had to hem the edges. 

When I started working with the fabric, I noticed that both selvage edges (the long, factory-finished edges of the fabric) have this sort of fringe.

Since I was tired of sewing and just wanted to be done, I thought maybe I could just leave the selvage edges and the fringe would add character.  I did square up the two shorter sides, fold over twice and press, and hem them.  

A perfectionist would have trimmed off that fringe, folded each selvage, pressed it, and hemmed it (I only know because I considered it).  So let's not say that I was lazy.  Let's say that I'm making progress on my perfectionism. ;)

However, I did struggle when I saw that the costume doesn't fit perfectly.  I took it up to church tonight while everyone was practicing for the play.  I delivered the costume to its very excited owner.  The skirt fits great and the length is perfect.  But the top is a little big.  I was so torn between my desire to be done and my desire to have it fit correctly.  I really couldn't leave it as it was.  But the girl wearing the costume insisted that it's fine and she can just have someone safety pin it for her.  Hmmm.  I was cringing inside.  I triple checked and quadruple checked with her, but she really insisted that it's fine.  So, I reluctantly left it in her hands.  Kind of a bittersweet ending to all my hard work and tailoring each item to fit perfectly.

I do feel lighter now that this gigantic project is done.  I learned so much through all the work.  I've never tailored a pattern before.  I've never worked with fabrics like these before.  I've never used trims like these before.  I've never made a genie before.  

My confidence as a seamstress has grown.  I think I'll be willing to take on projects now that I never would have touched before.  {I just got my freedom back tonight and I'm already thinking about more projects?  I annoy myself.}

So I'm going to breathe and enjoy the rest of my night.  Tomorrow has its own list of to-dos.  I wish I could celebrate this accomplishment with a delicious treat (cookie dough, anyone?), but I will at least celebrate by doing something relaxing that I haven't been able to do in weeks.  Probably pointless internet browsing.  

One step at a time, I made it to my finish line.  Whatever you're working on, striving toward, or dreaming of, I hope that today you are one step closer to your finish line than you were yesterday.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   {1 Corinthians 9:24-25}
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  {Hebrews 12:1-3} 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Easter Eggs Part 2 (Non-Edible)

These tutorials use some non-edible supplies to create cool designs.  You can address the inedible portions several ways:
  • Use regular hard-boiled eggs to create beautiful eggs.  Then crack and remove the shell and eat the egg inside.  (I am skeptical of this method because I know the non-toxic dyes leak through to the egg, so some inedible elements could possibly get through the shell as well).
  • Blow out the contents of raw eggs and clean them.  Your beautiful creations will last, as long as you protect them well from year to year (fragile!).  See instructions on Martha Stewart's Paper-Napkin Decoupage Eggs.  You can also buy egg blowing kits, such as this one at Amazon.
  • Buy ceramic, wooden, or paper mache eggs that will last for years.  I found all three types of eggs at Hobby Lobby, and I ordered some ceramic eggs from Oriental Trading when I had a code for free shipping.
Be sure to check out Easter Eggs Part 1 for more great ideas!

Click on the link below each picture to go to the full tutorial.

*You might have to click "Continue to Your Destination"

Have fun!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Easter Eggs Part 1 (Edible)

I decided to divide my egg dying ideas into two categories:  those that use only edible ingredients and those that use some non-edible supplies.  

These are egg dying tutorials that use all edible ingredients (mostly store-bought egg dyes). 

Click on the link below each picture to visit the full tutorial.

*Sidenote:  I really want the ceramic egg container that these eggs are displayed in!

These last two links are ideas for natural egg dyes. {I still like to use the neon egg dyes. :)}

*Click "Continue to Your Page" in upper right corner