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for His pleasure: August 2011

This Page

has been moved to new address

for His pleasure

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
for His pleasure: August 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grain Sack Pillows {Tutorial}


If you've been reading since the beginning of this blog's conception,
you'll remember that my first antique purchase ever was a 5$ grain sack.

Well, yesterday afternoon, I put off the dishes and the laundry
and made time during nap time to get that grain sack transformed.

Take that messy house!

The above photo is a shot of the back of the pillow. This tutorial shows how to make a removable pillow cover without messing with a zipper. Everything in my house needs to be washable, so this is how I make sure my pillows can easily be taken off and thrown in the washing machine for a quick cleanup from messy fingers.
~ Grain Sack Throw Pillows ~
Supplies Needed:
Sewing Machine
Grain Sack - washed and dried
Canvas Drop Cloth - washed and dried
Pillow Form:
{small enough to be covered by the size of your grain sack}
Coordinating Thread
Measuring Tape
Fabric Pen/Pencil {optional}
Notes: use backstitch at the beginning and end of all your seams in this tutorial.
I am still new at sewing so I doubt I used all the correct sewing terms. Don't judge me!
I laid out my grain sack to determine how much I could get out of the fabric.
I decided I could get 2 pillows out of it by using two 20x20in. pillow forms I already had.
I then ironed it.
I then measured the space between the words to determine a good spot to cut down the middle.
I marked the middle with my fabric pencil...
Cut down the center...
Trimmed off the fraying sides...
Laid my pieces on the pillows to determine placement of the words
and to determine how much fabric to trim to fit my pillow form.
I kind of eye this measuring-and-cutting-to-fit-pillow step. GASP!!!
I find that 3 kids 3 and under will do that to you.
I made sure there was extra fabric {roughly 3/4 inch to 1 inch all the way around} to make my pillow cover a little loose and because of the 1/4 inch edging you do to give the pillow a finished look at the end.
If you don't have little ones, or if you're OCD about stuff like that, you could take the measurement of your pillow form {e.g.. 20x20 inches} and add 3/4 inch to each side when you cut.
Taking my cut grain sack piece,
I laid it down flat on top of the canvas drop cloth,
smoothing out the two fabrics.
I began cutting the canvas to match the size of my grain sack,
but added 12 inches to the bottom of my pillow square...
and marked with my fabric pencil...
It looked like this when I got done cutting it...
I took the edges of both short sides and folded them over a 1/2 inch
and pressed them down by ironing and steaming them...
Then folded and pressed them over again, but 2 inches this time...
Sewed them...
I then folded that thing in half and cut straight down the fold...
Making 2 equal pieces...
I laid my grain sack piece and the canvas pieces on top of each other - right sides together!
The canvas pieces overlap like this...
Pinned the fabrics together...
The other side looked like this after pinning...
Sewed completely around the edges with my sewing machine. {If you measured your pillow pieces with an extra 3/4 inch instead of just eyeing it, I suggest you sew 1/2 inch in all the way around the square. You'll use up that extra 1/4 inch for the edging later!}

Trim off the corners like this...
Turn the pillow inside out now.
Iron the pillow so that the edges are all even like this...
{photo taken after pillow form inserted}
Sew 1/4 inch from the edge with desired stitch.
I used the long stitch on my machine, set on medium speed.
Insert pillow form and admire!!!
And look who my little helper was...
He wants to crawl so bad, poor thing!

Linking up to: Home Stories A2Z - Tutorials & Tips Link Party

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Living Light: How we Organize

I don't love the process of organizing, but I love being organized.
It gets harder and harder the more kids you have, but more and more necessary.

You can only imagine how organized my mother is!

I've been getting the itch to finish organizing closets around here. I was trying to get the paint up and Shiloh's party done before I dove in deep.

With the Fall season coming on {technically} and with seasonal consignments at their peak, I've purchased some "new" clothing for the kids. I do this usually twice a year - at the end of summer and the beginning of spring.
Whenever I start accumulating new clothes, I almost always go through what I have and get rid of some items I already own. This keeps the amount of clothing we own under control.

I thought I would share a few tips on how I organize since several of you have asked how we keep our clothing items down to a minimum.

So if you, like me, are getting things in shape for the fall and want to get organized, let's get started!

You'll need...

*Permanent Marker
*Trash Bags
{or any other bags you don't mind getting rid of}
*Storage bins

1. Pick your battles.

I begin my organization by going to the scene of the crime. For us, that's our closets. I pick one a day these days so I won't get discouraged. Tackle only as much as your nap time or free time allows. I also usually have some other chore going on {like laundry or the dishwasher} so I feel as if I'm accomplishing more than just a closet with my time.

2. Assess the crime scene.

Decide what kind of organizing is needed. Do you have old clothes or toys that need to go? Do you have clothes that need to be added to your current stash? Do you need to have children present to try on clothing? This gives you an idea of what supplies to have on hand.

3. Gather weapons needed.

I've listed above the simple tools I work with. Decide - based upon the volume you're working with - how many of these items you'll need. I do suggest at least...

1. One bag for items too worn and going to Goodwill and...
2. One for items in good enough condition to consign.

{If you need additional info on seasonal consignments that are held nationally, or popular national consignment stores, send me an email. I would be glad to help!}

I also realize that if you are working with a strict budget, buying plastic storage bins may not be an option for you. That's ok! While I have slowly added to my collection over the years, there was a point where I was working with Huggies boxes. Don't let the excuse of not having "proper" supplies keep you from beating the demon of disorganization. You can start out using just plain cardboard boxes for your storage bins. Just separating and labeling items into groups is what is key here!

4. Separate the bad guys from the good guys.

I always have four piles: Keep, Throw away, Goodwill, Consign. I realize how subjective these piles can be. We all have different family structures and plans. Use common sense for the season of life you are in. When we moved from our 2,100 sf house to our 1,100 sf apartment, we began seriously assessing what was worth taking up space in our little home and what could better be put to use in someone else's. I got rid of almost all {aside from a couple sentimental items} of the girl's clothes that I had saved for a possible future baby girl. I knew I was having a boy in a month, the odds of me having a girl would not be for another 1.5 years at the least. Did I really want to tote baby girl clothes with me for that long when I could buy a season's worth for about $50 at thrift stores, yard sales, or consignment sales? Not worth it for me. You decide what's best for your family. I will say that these verses keep me in check...

  1. Matthew 6:19 - "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:"
  2. Matthew 6:20 - "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:"
5. Organize the good guys.
Once I see how much I'm keeping, I begin putting those items in the kids' drawers or my plastic storage bins and labeling.
I find that labeling keeps me more accountable and less likely to just throw stuff that doesn't belong into the bins when I'm in a hurry. You can go as fancy as these; you can type something up in Word on your computer, print on decorative paper, and tape on; or you can use leftover FedEx labels like me!

Then, arrange neatly in closet...

6. Put in jail or find a home.

Once you've got your bins neatly stacked in the closet, begin getting your donate, consign and trash piles out of the house as quickly as possible! My experience is that toddlers find great delight in pillaging through bags full of old toys and clothes lying around. And sentimental feelings arise when you see your child making that old shirt into a play hat. So, throw away your trash pile immediately. Make a run to Goodwill that day or the next {at the latest} to drop off your donation pile. And set up an appointment ASAP for the consign pile.

7. Reward good behavior.
Go to Starbucks and get an overpriced drink. Or a smoothie from McDonalds. Whatever makes you happy. :-)

We have a few firm rules around here.
1.) Don't store anything in the attic.
2.) Don't own more clothes for the season than can be fit into one standard storage bin.
3.) Don't keep stained or torn clothing for the next season or child to grow into.
4.) Don't keep broken or unplayed-with toys.
5.) If we have a yard sale or consign items where we have leftover unwanted items, we do not let them come back into the house. Give away!

It is important to me that our family is not in love with stuff. It takes discipline and an honest conversation with the Lord, but I think "living light" is so worth it!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Health Update and Summer Pizza

It's been a while since I've updated on our lifestyle changes around here. I mentioned that our family is cutting back on sugar and white flour at the beginning of the summer. Well, summer is nearing its end and I'm happy to report it's going super well and we're planning on continuing it into the fall!

I've started making a bigger deal about eating veggies and fruit; started replacing most sugar with honey; replaced white pasta for whole grain or garden; started adding wheat flour into my bread making; and started buying hormone-free chicken...and no one is really complaining!

Every once in a while Steven makes playful jokes about my "healthy" recipes, but I am really careful about trying not to push anything weird on him and the kids.

We're not juicing carrots or anything!

I will not give you grand illusions about our eating habits. I believe strongly in moderation and will not pretend we don't eat out occasionally or eat white bread once in a great while. In fact, for Shiloh's party we had quite the sugar intake, while still offering granola bars, fresh strawberries, and carrot cupcakes.

We, by no means, are perfect, {the diet coke still has a home in my fridge} but I feel much happier about the direction we're headed.

And...I have lost several more pounds!!!

I have 6 more pounds to go before getting to my goal weight!
I don't even really feel like I've been sacrificing that much to get to this point. I'm doing the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels DVD and following the guidelines I wrote above and that's about it! I still drink my chocolate milk occasionally or munch on some chocolate chips, but I'm really not missing too much these days.

I have to say, this sermon by our new pastor on Sunday was a huge rebuke to me and encouraged me to stick with the changes I've tried to install in our family.

If you want something super convicting to listen to while you do the dishes or fold laundry, I highly recommend listening!

I can't leave without giving you all my favorite meal we've enjoyed over and over this summer. It's simply delicious, healthy, and doesn't require that much time to make. It is now my favorite pizza...I would rather eat this than eating out any day of the week. Just perfect for summer nights!

Corn, Pesto, and Tomato Pizza

Cherry tomatoes or 3 small plum tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pizza crust (I wrote out my favorite wheat one below or you can just buy a Boboli at the store)
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (found in the specialty cheese area near the deli)
3 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves

Slice the tomatoes and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and let stand for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the corn, parmesan cheese, and sugar.
Roll out the pizza dough and spread the pesto all over the top.
Cover the pesto with the corn mixture, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes.
Bake in a preheated 450° oven (the longer preheated the better) for about 15 minutes. The cheese will be melted and the crust golden brown. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves.

Sorry I don't have an after picture of this me, it is divine!

Recipe from

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust


1 cup whole wheat flour
(I've tried using all whole wheat flour and we're not quite there yet. A good compromise is using 1 1/2 cups wheat and 1/2 cup all-purpose)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick rising yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water (120-130° F)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Combine flours, yeast, salt, and sugar. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the mixer mixing, gradually pour in enough of the water/oil combo to form a sticky ball of dough. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 - 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 -2 tablespoons flour. Mix until the dough forms into a ball, and then mix for 1 more minute to knead.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed side down, over the dough. Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes before rolling.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450° - 500°.

Roll and top the pizza as desired onto a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet. Place on lowest oven rack and bake the pizza until the bottom is crisp and golden, 10-14 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Shiloh's Birthday Brunch

Shiloh turned TWO yesterday. To be honest, I'm surprised we've made it this far. Stevo and I have concluded that she must have a whole parcel of angels designated solely to her - there's just no other way to explain the fact she's still kickin' with all the stunts she's pulled.
But oh how we love that crazy girl!

Since we just moved, since I'm not a fan of large crowds, and since Shiloh is kind of a loner herself, I wanted to keep her party small with her favorite little buddies. This way, we could all just have a relaxed and fun morning.

I got my part of the painting {translate: as far as I could reach while standing on top of the piano} complete in the office. I did a little rearranging in there for the party and moved a mojority of the office stuff, pulled the desk out from the wall, and covered it with a green quilt for a tablecloth.

The theme was Watermelons/Summer Fruit.

I decorated in pink and green with some black thrown in...

The quilt's a little askew {bugging me now} due to the fact these photos were taken after the party. Call me lazy.

I borrowed some dishes from my friend and neighbor - who is just super cool like that!

The centerpieces were assembled and thought up the hour the party was supposed to start. For some uncharacteristic reason, I had it in my head, but not my budget, to buy fresh pink flowers that cascaded from a glass vase. I saw it somewhere in blog land and I just fell in love. But as you know, I do not - I repeat - can NOT justify buying cut flowers. If I were rich, I would. But I'm not. :-(

So I took apart a wreath I had loosely assembled earlier this year and just stuck them into the vases and bent them to make the cascade look. For artificial, I was pleasantly surprised, and only a teensy bit sad they weren't the real deal. Someday, I'll have a garden.

Printed out a birthday banner on gingham scrapbook paper.

I just printed out an individual letter on each piece of paper, cut it down to size, punched two holes in the top, and strung pink ribbon I had on hand through it. LOVE! Even better? I can switch out the ribbon and reuse for Keller's birthday party.

Made lots of these easy watermelon garlands by hand cutting several pieces of leftover scrapbook paper stacked (to minimize time cutting) and then just hot glued them to baker's twine while watching a movie. I hung them on the fireplace and in the office by tacking a thumb tack into the wall.

The office is going to receive a huge piece of artwork I'm stewing over above the piano, but for the party, I brought in a frame with Shiloh's photos already in it and just leaned it up against the wall. {Great trick for you home decorators who don't want to commit or just need something temporary.} I placed Shiloh's barely started scrabook on the piano and whipped up that imperfect little "2" sign in two minutes and hung it by a clear thumb tack.

Have you made these before???
I've seen them everywhere, but finally made some this time around. They are a quick project, with a great wow factor.
My girls woke up from their naps, and were like, "Wow! Mommy, it's a birthday party!!!"

It felt like Christmas morning and it just warmed my heart to see how exciting celebrating is through their young eyes.

Go HERE for simple step-by-step instructions.

The party itinerary went something like this:

Started with brunchy foods...

Did 2 crafts...

Opened gifts and sang to the birthday girl...
{no pictures, sorry!}

The cupcakes were carrot with orange cream cheese frosting. I forgot to put pretty cupcake liners on...oh well! The watermelons were again hand cut and just hot glued onto toothpicks and stamped with a "2" stamp in black ink.

The guests took home green flower pots with freshly planted flower seeds {one of the crafts} and this homemade strawberry jam Stevo and I made together:
Yes! Stevo will cook with me in the kitchen!!!

We finished the day together as a family up at the bowling alley:

Nothing like a shirt tucked into panties to give you that crisp, put-together look. ;-)

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