Archives for June 2014

How to Make a T-shirt Quilt

T-shirt quilts are certainly nothing new.  I think my mom still has all my T-shirts where she planned to make me one in high school *cough* over 18 years ago *cough*.

So I was cleaning out the kids clothes when we switched over the season recently and I nearly donated all of their T-shirts.  I remembered T-shirt quilts, though, and since I actually finished my first sewing project a few months ago, I felt like maybe I could tackle it.

And for those that follow my Facebook page (and the post title didn’t already spoil it for you J), you saw that I did indeed finish it!

T-shirt quilt

 

And listen, this was WAYYYY easier than that apron.  I wish I would have started with this.  If you can sew a straight line, then you’ll have no problem.

 

T-shirt quilt

 

The first thing you have to do is buy your supplies.  You’ll need:

  • T-shirts cut into 12” squares. I used 15 squares, but used some backs of T-shirts so it was really only about 13 actual shirts. You can also use “filler” pieces of other plain cotton if you’d like.
  • 2 yards of fleece fabric for the back.  Ideally you want to pick one that pulls out the colors in your shirts, but of course Emma just went with one she liked.
  • Fusible interfacing. It depends how many squares you’re going to use to how much you need, but we planned for 2 squares per yard, but ended up not needing the full 8 yards.  If you were careful you could get away with 3 per yard and only need 5 yards. This is exactly what we used, although I think we could have used something heavier.
  • Since I’m just a beginner, I also bought a kit with a cutting board and a rotary knifeHere is a similar one
  • Ball point needle for your machine.  I found mine at Target, but here is a similar pack.
  • And finally, Scott cut a 12” square out of plastic for me to use as a template for all the squares.  I felt like the clear was necessary so I could align the image within the square better. You can see it on the left side of this picture below.

 

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I followed this video for the sewing instructions.

 

The basic steps are to:

  1. Cut the T-shirts in squares using the template and the rotary scissors
  2. Fuse the lining to the back with an iron
  3. Cut the lining around the fabric using the template again. Now that I think of it, you could probably cut the T-shirt and lining together.
  4. Arrange the T-shirt in the rows and columns you want.
  5. Sew the squares front to front in a row
  6. Sew the rows of fabric front to front to each other
  7. Pin and cut the back fabric the size of the front
  8. Sew the front and back front to front, leaving a gap to turn the blanket inside out
  9. Turn the blanket inside out
  10. Stitch up the opening
  11. Sew the edging
  12. Optionally, sew a top stitch between the squares or use yarn at each intersection and tie it.  Emma didn’t want me to do either of those

 

Whew, so that is a lot of steps, but none of it is hard.  As I’m learning with sewing, it’s a lot of prep work and a lot of patience and just a little bit of sewing.

But, as I’m also learning, the satisfaction you get from sewing your own project is priceless!

I loved seeing Emma wake up using the blanket. It’s fun to see her “wearing” all of her old T-shirts.

 

T-shirt quilt

 

Although, she did say she needed one more row and column of squares for it to really fit her.  This size is more like a toddler quilt than a tween quilt.

 

If you’ve made lots of quilts, I’d love to hear your tips!

Do you have a T-shirt quilt?  What would your quilt have on it? Racing shirts? Pageant shirts? Baseball shirts? Cheer shirts?  Tell me!

I’m not sure which T-shirts my mom kept but it probably includes volleyball, Show Choir and youth group!

The Sunflower

blooming sunflower

Caramaria

Last year we planted sunflowers from one of those garden kits for kids.  Never did I imagine that they would actually grow.  Neither did I know they are annuals and they would come back. So, we have 4 sunflower plants this year in a sort of random place near our deck. Given another chance, it’s not the location I’d choose.

I’ve been astounded, though, how the tops of the stalks follow the sun during the day.  It’s very odd to see a plant move, as if it had a mind to do so. 

In the morning, the top of the plant is bent at a 45 degree angle towards the east. Our house sits facing north, so the plant is facing the left side of the yard in the morning.  Around noon, you can see that the plant is erect, reaching toward the sun at the top of the sky.  By the evening, the top of the plant is bent over at a 45 degree angle, but facing west, where the sun is setting.

At this point, we’re probably not surprised the name is the sunflower.

I couldn’t help but draw a few spiritual conclusions from this little plant.  I’m not the first to do so.  Indigenous Americans actually used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity.  There is something about that little plant who follows the light.

I decided to do some more reading on our littler sunflower.

Beyond any spiritual implications, simply the pattern of the sunflower seeds is astounding.

The disk flowers are arranged spirally. Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; on a very large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other.[2][3][4] This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head.[5][6][7]

I mean. Beyond the beauty of the pattern, the seeds are arranged just so so that the most amount of seeds are packed in.  Does that astound you like it does me?

sunflower with bee

Zoelavie

Let’s not even get into all the uses for the seeds once the growth is complete. 

 

Hulled Raw Sunflower Seeds © Rhphotos

 

Extracted sunflower oil is used in cooking, as a carrier oil, to produce biodiesel, as a food for both humans and animals.  It can even be used to extract toxins from the soil.

 

I was disappointed, though, to find out that the following of the sun actually stops once the flower head is formed. 

Once the flower heads are formed, they point in a fixed direction throughout the day, typically eastern.

I truly believe God’s glory is displayed throughout creation.  If I’m drawing spiritual conclusions from this, it didn’t make sense to me. Why, when the flower appeared and it finally matured and was useful would it stop following the sun?  It seems to me that the more mature a plant got, the MORE it should follow the sun.

In an article describing heliotropism (the condition that makes plants turn towards the sun), it says this:

The buds are heliotropic until the end of the bud stage, and finally face east, allowing the flowers of the sunflower to be used as inexact living compasses.[10]

Oh gosh, are you getting it?

 

Sunflower Field

Gfadel

These flowers are stationary towards the East and therefore are LIVING COMPASSES.  They are mature, steady, and literally helping others in their journey.  If a lost traveler comes upon a sunflower field, he can quite literally know what direction to go based on the knowledge that the sunflower points East.

When a plant is still growing and moves to follow the sun, at high noon, you can’t use that plant for direction because it’s pointing straight up at the sky.  It’s no use to anyone.

When the plant is fixed and firm towards the east, lost travelers can use that as a living compass.

I believe it is a picture of a mature Christian.  Once Christians have matured and have developed their skills, talents and abilities-the things they were made for—they naturally help others in their journey.

As Christians, I believe we can always help someone else on their journey, but as one matures, I think she does that more and more.  A maturing Christian learns the talents and gifts the Lord has given them and not only can people enjoy that, they are naturally pointing others toward Christ. 

 

sunflower field

© Andrew Kazmierski

Have you ever met someone like that?  Where they are mature, steady and strong—they know and you know what their gift is from God and simply seeing it on display draws you closer to God?  It’s the most beautiful thing to watch.

So, while I still love watching our sunflowers bend toward the sun all day, I am looking forward to watching the beautiful flower head firmly point toward the East, knowing that its purpose could lay beyond itself. And pray the same for myself.

 

*If you want to read more, here are the two WIKI pages I used: Sunflower and Heliotropism

A Weekend in Charleston

Photo Jun 21, 11 01 17 AM

It’s Sunday night as I write.  The girls have their cousin sleeping over and they’re hidden away in their rooms, probably in my clothes and putting on makeup.  Scott is away at a men’s evening at the church.  The dogs, including my parent’s who are out of town, are laid in their preferred spots across the living room.  My sewing machine is waiting on me in the dining room.  I finally pulled out the pieces to finish Emma’s T-shirt quilt this afternoon and if my machine would actually cooperate, I’m determined to finish.

 

Photo Jun 21, 11 00 24 AM

We spent the weekend with our friends in Charleston. You might remember them from this post On Community.  I’m feeling that same, filled-up, rested satisfaction and peace after taking a few days away from the regular routine and spending time with generous friends.

 

Photo Jun 21, 11 38 20 AM

I read this book while we were there by Joyce Meyer called Eat the Cookie, Buy the Shoes: Giving Yourself Permission to Lighten Up.  It’s a book for people that have forgotten to enjoy the little things in life.  The people who live to check items off the checklist, to get things done.  The people who may be taking life a little too seriously and have a tendency to lose their joy. They’re do-ers not be-ers.  People like me. 

She encouraged readers to celebrate you, your progress and your hard work and kick the guilt to the curb.

 

Photo Jun 20, 1 23 56 PM

And so, as I read this in Charleston, I practiced the discipline of celebration.  I said yes when Emma wanted to go get pedicures (our first together and my first in years). I said yes when dessert was suggested for dinner and I said yes when the girls wanted to play dominos and when they wanted to build sand castles and I said yes when he asked if I wanted ice cream on that dessert.  I clapped when we drove over our county line on the way home because we’d successfully navigated the weekend.  It was a weekend of celebrating months of hard work both professionally and personally.

 

Photo Jun 20, 6 50 37 PM

One of my favorite stories from the weekend is driving back, sandy and dirty from the beach, and deciding we needed to go to King of Pops.  No one was really sure where the place was and so, after looking on their Facebook page, we drove to the address in North Charleston. 

We ended up in a part of town they are trying to revive, on a tiny main street of sorts.  We circled the block but didn’t see a storefront.  We did see a building in the back with some monster graffiti on the wall and our friends felt like that must be their warehouse or office as it was similar to their Charlotte location, but we could never find a storefront. 

We called the number on their page and happened to get someone.  He said their retail store wasn’t opened yet and they only had carts out on locations, but he happened to be in the warehouse where we were and we could just come right there and buy them directly from him.  So, that’s what we did! We went in a big room full of freezers of popsicles.  Scott even had the perfect amount of cash to buy our popsicles.  We got chocolate sea salt, blueberry lemongrass, key lime pie, and Oreo cheesecake.  All homemade—even the Oreos!  They were DEE-LISH.

 

Photo Jun 21, 3 33 04 PM

We were driving away with our melting popsicles and it was just one of those moments that felt God-ordained. I don’t know if God ordains popsicle moments, but I know I was looking for moments to celebrate over the weekend and as we were driving home, all smiling and sharing the happiness over stumbling upon the warehouse and the yumminess of the popsicles, it truly felt like a moment that was supposed to happen.

And so, here I am back on Sunday night and I’m trying to continue to celebrate in little ways—to let go of the weight of the to-do list a little.  My sewing machine is waiting on me and I plan to enjoy the rest of what is left of this weekend.  Monday morning will be here before I know it and who knows, maybe I’ll celebrate finishing this post!

How To Have Someone Clean Your Floors Every Single Night

IMG_3040

 

We have a problem in our house. We have beautiful, dark hardwoods and a yellow lab that sheds like he’s allergic to his hair.  It is an absolute nightmare trying to keep the floors clean.

Even our cleaning lady will vacuum, sweep and mop and then need to go over it again by the time she’s made it to the end of the house and back.  Dust bunnies congregate under chairs and tables and the couch.  Forget trying to sit on the floor for any activity.

I could vacuum with my beloved Dyson twice a day and still not feel like I was keeping up. And the sad part is, I am lucky to drag the vacuum out three times a week.

But, I think we have finally, finally found our solution.

Roomba.

image

Roombas are nothing new, of course, but I would never pay the price for them and really, I wondered how well they really worked.

After switching from hardwoods to carpet, my friend sold her beloved Roomba at a fraction of the full price and I was happy to take it off her hands.  It was finally my chance to figure out if it was really worth it.  Could Roomba really help with all the Tucker hair?

Yes.  Yes, it can.

With a push of a button every night, Roomba goes on some sort of nonsensical path to vacuum our kitchen, dining, room, office and hallway, even traveling over all our rugs.  I haven’t yet figured out how it knows what to do. We didn’t program and as far as I can tell it isn’t learning our layout.  But, every single time, it seems to cover the majority of the floors in all the rooms.

The battery lasts for over an hour and it even cleans under the couch and all the chairs and tables!

I’ve been starting it in the evenings after the day is done and everyone moves to the bedrooms.  After it does its job, it somehow finds its way back to its base and docks itself to recharge. When I come out in the mornings, my floors are clean and Roomba is charged and ready for the next day.

It is nothing short of fabulous.

Now, it doesn’t do as good of a job as my Dyson.  It doesn’t seem to pick up fine dirt like sand and it misses dirt in some places.  But overall, it’s totally managing Tucker’s hair problem.

Now, I was very hesitant to post about this because of the cost of a Roomba.  It’s not cheap and I don’t think it’s worth the full price.  But, if you can find one on Craigslist or from a friend or have some gift cards you just can’t figure out what to do with or find one on a Black Friday sale or…you get what I’m saying.  Just pocket this little review and if you ever find one at a good deal, snatch it up and welcome back your sanity.

It works for me!

 

Check out other WFMW posts at WeAreThatFamily.com

I was not compensated in any way for this post, just wanted to share!

My Self-Help Plan

If there’s a thread that has been weaving through all of my readings lately, and therefore what I think God is trying to tell me is this: I have no idea what I’m doing, my thoughts are all messed up and I have no control over anything.  Thanks, God. I get it.  You’re God and I’m not.

Our culture, of which I am a product, is obsessed with self-help.  How to get skinnier, how to have a better marriage, how to succeed at work, how to get along with your kids, how to make better friendships, how to keep your friends.  The list goes on. The magazine titles and self-help book section will confirm.  We want all the steps to all the things to improve our lives.

In the meantime, I’ve seen only one thing have a long-lasting impact in my life: the power of change through Jesus’s healing of my mind, body and soul.

I am a better mother, sister, daughter, worker, servant, person when Jesus comes in and changes me from the inside out.  My heart changes and then my words, actions, habits and outlook changes.

Yeah, that’s a Sunday School answer, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Because it means that we really can’t step our way into any change.  We simply have to believe that the answer lies with him and then make ourselves available to that power.

It’s sounds sort of mystical. But really, I think it is.  I experienced more healing and life change lying on my daughter’s bed crying in prayer and release in 20 minutes than I ever have on any self-help plan.

And so, I’ve come to believe this: the best self-help plan is to help myself to Jesus.

And I don’t mean in the same way of helping myself to another plate of dinner.

I mean, helping myself get to those moments with Jesus.  For this, I need to ask myself two questions.

First, what is distracting me from Jesus?

What are the things that are keeping me from Jesus? Is it TV, is it too many commitments, is it simple preoccupation of my mind?  Of course, we have to live life and we can’t be in prayer 100% of the time, but as I talked about last week and grocery shopping, all of life can be centered around him while we do life.  It’s a matter of our mind being focused.  But sometimes, yes, our DVRs are too full and we’ve stretched ourselves too thin and we blame busyness for why we can’t get to Jesus.

So, find your distractions and get rid of them as much as possible.

For me, it was TV.  I was spending hours and hours every night watching it. Now, I don’t.  It’s pretty fabulous.

The second question we have to ask is how do I experience Jesus?

It’s fine to rid yourself of distractions, but if you only replace it with other distractions you’re not helping yourself to Jesus at all. We have to find out how we experience Jesus best.  Do you hike? Do you paint? Do you serve?  Do you sing? Do you write?  What are the moments where you experience him?  Find those and do those more in place of your distractions.

I’ve found I experience more of him when I’m reading and writing.  So, I do more of that in the place of TV.

When I do this, he teaches me all the things I need to have a better marriage, be a better worker, how to parent, how to have a better body image, how to keep my friends.

The best self-help is helping myself to Jesus.

It is simply this: what distractions do you have keeping you from Jesus and how do you need to replace them?