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Getting Crafty: Making Flannel Baby Blankets

March 22, 2014
Flannel baby blanket

Flannel baby blanket

I have been busy crafting baby blankets lately. I received one of these flannel blankets way back when our first child was born. So they have been around since the “dawn of flannel cloth;” I am sure. It was one of my favorites and I hope these blankets will be useful for those who have and will receive them from me.

Here is a tutorial in a sense. These blankets are easy to make, but there are some things I learned along the way that I wanted to share with you.

After purchasing your fabric, make certain you wash and dry it, so it will be shrunk before you put the pieces together. I purchased 1 yard each of two coordinating patterns in flannel. My fabrics were 44-45″ widths and would be nice for swaddling a babe. The one I was given was made with 60″ fabric and was nice to throw on the floor/grass for my babies to play on.

After pre-shrinking the fabric you want to square the pieces up. I did this by making sure the cut edge was square to the selvage edge and then folding on the diagonal and trimming off the extra length. Do this for both pieces and then place wrong sides together and making sure they are the same size. Trim if necessary.

This is the overcast stitch I chose.

This is the overcast stitch I chose.

You may sew on a serger, but since mine had a broken needle, I used my conventional machine. Choose an overcast stitch. I set mine to be 1/4 of an inch wide. I also shortened my stitch length a bit so I had good coverage of the raw edge. But don’t make it too short or your edge will be stiff.

Since you are sewing two layers of flannel, I recommend that you lessen the pressure on the presser foot. I used my scrap piece and sewed a long edge to make sure that the material was not “walking.” ( That means the top layer is stretching and getting longer than the bottom one.)

Start sewing in the middle of a side and stitch all the way around.

my edge stitching

my edge stitching

The last step is the crochet edging. For this I used a cotton string and a size 10 hook.

thread, crochet hook, and darning needle

thread, crochet hook, and darning needle

Fold once to turn under the edge stitching. Use a darning needle to make holes through the two layers of fabric and you will probably be able to make only 3 or 4  holes ahead of your stitching. I used the pattern on my  material to help me evenly place the stitches along the edge. Space the stitches about 1/4 inch apart.

The first round with the next holes visible.

The first round with the next holes visible.

Starting the in the middle of a side make a loose single crochet all around the blanket, folding once and making holes for the stitches right along the edge of that overcast edge. Then, for the foundation round make two single crochet (sc) in each stitch around and join with a slip stitch.

The pattern I used for the next round was: **sc,  ch 1, sk next sc, tr in next stitch, ch 5, sl stitch in 4th chain of the ch 5 (picot made), ch 1, tr in the same stitch with the previous tr, ch 1, sk next stitch, repeat from ** all the way around. Sl st to the beginning of the pattern round and tie off. Weave in your threads. I had to make an adjustment when I got close to the completion of the pattern round so my pattern would come out evenly, but it was not noticeable on my finished work.

There are many different edgings patterns to choose from on the internet or Pinterest. I made up this picot edging since the pattern repeat was based on a small number of stitches and didn’t have large holes for little fingers or toes to be caught in.

Pattern abbreviations:

  • sc = single crochet
  • ch= chain
  • tr=treble crochet
  • sl st=slip stitch
  • sk=skip

Arrogant and Critical

February 12, 2014

A while ago, I heard a report that arrogant people are often highly critical people. My immediate reaction was a prayer, “Lord, help me not to be so critical.”

To my shame, I wanted to remove the effects my pride rather than my pride.

In this day where self-image is protected to the highest degree and where positive thinking is the “key to success,” personal pride is an accepted outcome. In God’s economy it is wrong to be proud and right to be humble. But what does that mean?

We are told not to think of ourselves “more highly than we ought (to think).” We are told that every good and perfect gift comes from God and is not by our own measures. We also know that He paid the ultimate price to reconcile us to Himself and that gives a human worth and value. For those who are saved, God, Himself is conforming us to the image of His Son and that is a good thing.

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis: “Humility is not thinking less of self, it is thinking of self less.” Humility is the act involved when I know that life is not “all about me.” Humility recognizes that God is the One deserving of glory and then happily glorifys Him.

There is a time and place for criticism. Certainly, we ought to judge ourselves and whether, we are doing right with a right attitude. There is a time for verbally encouraging  our brothers and/or sisters in Christ to walk in the Spirit, but this speech is to be seasoned with grace. This criticism is the kind that edifys and it’s purpose is to build up rather than tear down.

As I meditate on what He has done and is doing in me, I want give up my arrogance attitude and not just my critical spirit. I want to be like Jesus, who, although He was God, came to serve.

Just a few thoughts of mine, your comments are always welcome.

Books I Have Read Recently

October 14, 2013
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The Bonesetter's daughterThe Bonesetter’s Daughter –  Amy Tan

I will be reading more of Amy Tan. Her voice and characters resonated with me. This is a story about identity, generation gaps, personal worth, and understanding one another. At its center it was about the redemption of a mother/daughter relationship before it was too late.

The Copper Beech       The Copper Beech - Maeve Binchy

I enjoyed this book, but I don’t think it is the author’s best work. This story is set in a small town in Ireland. The story is made up of the stories of children and adults connected to the village school. It takes a while before the stories start intersecting. It is warm and sweet with a satisfying ending.

Jekyll and Hyde       The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been wanting to read this both this book and Frankenstein since I read a world-view book (The Deadliest Monster – Baldwin) comparing these “monsters” several years ago. I have always loved Robert Louis Stevenson and was charmed into loving his work even more than before. This is not a horror story, but a treatise on humanity and the effects of evil on and within a person. The book is short but very thought-provoking.

Frankenstein_Frankenstein – Mary Shelly

The second part of my comparison of monsters.  The use of language and vocabulary was beautiful and challenging. We have become such an “instant” society that we neglect great literature because of the work it entails to read it.

I don’t watch scary movies or generally read this genre of book, but I am so glad I did. Mary Shelly creates sympathy for Frankenstein’s monster by relating its sad story of being spurned by society and being alone. Shelly gives these circumstances as the reason for his murderous and revengeful ambitions. Although much longer than Jekyll and Hyde, it too, is a book that will have your thinking deeply on the origin of evil and a human’s relationship to it while on this earth.

DraculaDracula – Bram Stoker

I don’t know why I chose to read this book, but it seemed fitting after a summer of reading the previous two titles. :) I am surprised that I stuck with it long enough to finish it. But I had to know how it ended. I keep wondering if stories of vampires and  werewolves originated here or if it was much earlier. I was surprised by the international cast of characters involved in the novel. I can’t say that I recommend this, but I will say it was entertaining.

nightNight – Elie Wiesel

It seems the other genre I have been attracted to is World War II and the atrocity of the Holocaust. This is a biography of a Romanian Jewish boy. It is short and to the point. It details his time in 3 different concentration camps (Buna, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz) with his father. He waited 10 years after his release before attempting to chronicle this time in his life. It was most touching to me to read of his feelings that “God was dead” and yet God was so woven into his life that I expected him to realize that God is not dead. This title is the first part of a trilogy (NIght, Dawn, and Day) but it appears to be the only autobiographical one.

secret of vigor        The Secret of Vigor – Shawn M. Talbott

I am always looking for health books that don’t make promises that can’t be kept. I like this book and agree with the author that health is a complex issue. The author promotes balance in diet, exercise, and stress management. He has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, and several undergrad and grad degrees in sports medicine, fitness, and nutrition. After suffering for a year with plantar fascitis, I am glad I read this and because of some changes I made (mostly getting enough and better sleep) I am finding relief. I need to make some more health changes, but this is a start.

The Westing GameWesting Game – Ellen Raskin

This is a children’s mystery. It was fun to read. I am baffled by the work it must take for an author to come up with the mystery and then to incorporate the players and their dialogue into revealing just enough to keep you interested – but not so much that you figure the mystery out ahead of the characters. I think we might do this as a read-aloud later this year.

Nory Ryan's Song        Nory Ryan’s Song - Patricia Reilly Giff

This is a short book about the courage of a young girl during the Irish Potato Famine. It is sad and satisfying. This girl, in the midst of fear – of the landlords, and crisis – in the shortage of food and other necessities, and the work – in helping a sister keep a home for a brother and grandfather while her father is away; rises up and does what has to be done. She takes chances, learns skills, and scratches and clings to life for her family and community. She is a worthy heroine.

Number the StarsNumber the Starts – Lois Lowry

My other Holocaust selection. This is a children’s story. It is about the escape of a Jewish family from Copenhagen through the  Danish Resistance. The central character is a young girl, Annemarie Johansen. Annemarie’s best friend Ellen Rosen and her family are in danger of being “re-located” by the Nazis. Through the ingenuity and connections with the underground movement, along with the attention to detail and bravery of Annemarie. the family is smuggled to safety.

Johnny TremainJohnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

This is our current read-aloud and I had forgotten how much I loved this story of a budding apprentice silversmith who was crippled and had to find another way of living. It is set during the very earliest days of the American Revolution. It is a story about overcoming obstacles, discerning the times, and standing for what you believe. Our young and arrogant hero must decide what he believes, about himself, his friends, and “family” and then he must act on those beliefs.

All in all, the summer has provided an interesting list of books and I think I even left out some. I have a huge stack of books to start and a few to finish. What are you reading these days?

Fall Recap

September 29, 2013
Jacob and Mudder

Jacob and Mudder

Ahh, my favorite season has arrived! Fall in Colorado is beautiful. True, this year’s fall started out with atypical flooding and rain – but it still promises to be gorgeous. In my neck of the woods, we have dried out and are enjoying the warm, sunny days along with cool, crisp nights. There are those farther north who are not as fortunate and are still cleaning before they can even assess the damage. My prayers are with them.

We did get some water in the basement, but looking back it was a blessing for a few reasons: I hated that blue shag carpet that was thrown down in the storage room and is gone now. :) And the room needed a good thorough cleaning – which it got.

Before the hail and 12 hours after it.

Before the hail and 12 hours after it.

I had been busy canning and gardening – plum and peach jam, peaches, pears, and pear butter. I had high hopes for canning more beans and making salsa and spaghetti sauce – but the hail that came with the storms, stripped my garden bare. Even the carrots are done. There are a few tomatoes that are ripening on battered vines, but the only garden job left is the clean-up. I think I will purchase some tomatoes for soup and try my hand at jalapeno jelly yet.

We have started our school year, and soccer, and pre-season wrestling Which keep me shuttling players or giving up my car to my newest driver. Having a newly licensed driver will improve your prayer life! :) Congratulations and thanks David for driving me to my knees – again!

The happy builders....

The happy builders….

We did manage to get away for a long weekend of camping over Labor Day. We had planned to do more hiking and scouting of our hunting grounds, but ended up relaxing, reading, and fishing. Carl, the youngest convinced his older siblings to help him build a fort, but he lost interest a bit before they finished, grabbed a pole and headed for the lake. The others finished it.

Life continues to go by too quickly and I have to keep reminding myself to enjoy this busy family – because I have a tendency to get caught up with the details and am too busy too step back and count my blessings. So I will take this opportunity to remind you – along with myself – that we need to give thanks now for the trials and the pleasures, because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Enjoy!

Why Carl quit building the fort.

Why Carl quit building the fort.

Platform of Humility

September 10, 2013

empty-white-podiumA former pastor used to speak of a “having a  platform,” meaning place of honor where we could (and should) glorify God. He was referencing any talent, ability, or accomplishment that would allow an audience where you could give God the glory for that ability.

I agree with this. In this world where self-esteem is preached more than the gospel and where excessive pride in accomplishments is the norm,  if we are given the opportunity to say “Thank you, God for the great work You have done! Thank you for allowing me to accomplish this feat, because You are my strength.”  We should let the world know that we are His – bought with a price to glorify God.
In my case, I find myself on the platform of humility rather than of  grand accomplishment much more often. How can we glorify God in those “losing” situations? Wouldn’t it still be true – that God is worthy of thanks in the midst of a trial and that He is still our strength?
Our response to not only good, but also the bad should be more similar. It should all be thankfulness and praise.

I have seen people call attention to financial need as if it were some seal of spirituality. I have seen those without need flaunt their status as if it were a sign of God’s blessing upon them. Neither of these things is necessarily true.

Our eternal God doesn’t “bless” with such temporary things. True, he provides for our needs and he provides the tools for His servants to carry out His wishes. Remember, every good gift is from Him.
Our ability to glorify Him in any and every situation has to do with our humble response to fame and fortune – or to infamy or loss. It lies in our faith that God is good, and that He has a purpose in taking us on a path that might involve either pain or great victory.
I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but I remember that His ways are not my ways and of this I am confident: He loves me with an everlasting love, evidenced by the giving of His own Son, and He will strengthen me to accomplish his will.

I will walk the path that You, O Lord, have set before me. I will learn to trust you more and more, and I will thank you in everything.

Garden: A Late Start is Better than Never

August 1, 2013

My garden that almost wasn’t …  I have been meaning to post about it for two weeks….. but better late than never, right?

The garden started in late February, when I gently poked my tender little seeds in an egg carton, then moved the seedlings into the newspaper origami pots I made. (That was a Pinterest idea that really worked! Yeah! The first website did not have clear instructions, but I kept looking until I found one that did. When transplanting, I ripped the newspaper off, instead of planting in the paper pots.)

When April rolled around we finally had snow – nearly every weekend in April, we had snow. When April gave way to May I was busy. And the more May days that passed, the more I considered not even planting a garden this year. After all, a garden takes work and I was not keeping up with my regular workload already. Besides, it was already so late.

notice the newspaper pots

notice the newspaper pots

I thought I might transplant the seedlings I started and call it good….. but I couldn’t. So into the earth went the seedlings and then the seeds. The puppy promptly ate all the leaves off the cantaloupe and broke some tomatoes. Oh, well.

pole beans this year

pole beans this year

The pole beans are a bit disappointing – all “pole” and no bean yet, but still I hope. The cucumbers are blooming like crazy with itsy-bitsy little cukes on them. And I’ll be picking jalapeno peppers soon.

Almost ready

Almost ready

The store was out of the largest bamboo supports for my tomatoes – so they were looking a bit neglected. But while I was visiting my grandson last week, my husband and David rigged a support trellis for them! I usually get nervous when Paul tells me he worked in my garden. ;)

the trellis supports

the trellis supports

I had planned on planting a  perennial herb garden this year, but since its location is currently being used as a track where Muddy runs, I decided to wait another year and put my herbs in pots for now. Their abundance is being dried and stored.  It is so easy to dry herbs and flowers in Colorado’s low humidity. Just wash, bundle with rubber bands, and hang upside down.

lavender, sage, oregano, and thyme drying

lavender, sage, oregano, and thyme drying

So while other gardeners are enjoying their produce, I am patiently waiting. But I am glad I planted. I guess it shows a little bit of faith in the future; a promise of reaping after planting. So, how are your gardens growing?

My favorite puppy, Muddy

My favorite puppy, Muddy

 

Independence Day Cookies

July 15, 2013

Independence Cookies 003I saved the cover of my June 2012 Martha Stewart Living magazine because I wanted to make the cookies that were featured on cover again. After I made them last year, I decided that I did not like the cookie or the frosting - after I had tried three different stores looking for the egg white powder that I needed for the meringue frosting that never set up. (I am sure that any cake/cookie decorator would have known right where to get this, but for me it was a mystery.)

The note I wrote on that cover:  “Next year make with a good sugar cookie, frost with regular frosting, and use gel decorating tubes for the design work.”

I could not find my sugar cookie recipe that uses cream cheese, so I searched the internet and found it! I didn’t have almond flavoring, so I used extra vanilla. We decided to leave early for a little road trip to see my in-laws, so the cookie dough was in the fridge all weekend.

I rolled and baked them this morning and left them cooling while we picked up the cat from his surgery. While I was gone, our Labrador puppy ate most of the cookies. Secretly, this made me happy because I knew that since I had already logged a disaster on this project, the rest would go smoothly!

I made the frosting with powdered sugar, about a tablespoon of butter, a bit of vanilla, and a little milk. I made it thin but still spreadable and not running off the sides of the cookie.

After the remaining cookies had cooled, I frosted them while my eager helpers decorated. I explained that they should make two concentric circles of gel color on the frosting and then drag the toothpick through the frosting from the edge to the center and the next stroke from the center to edge. Alternating stroke direction until you reach the place you started.

My creative helpers

My creative helpers

Of course, being the creative thinkers that they are, their designs started to resemble smiley faces. And that’s okay.

my "practice" cookies

my “practice” cookies

Here are the cookies I made. You can see that I was getting better and better with each cookie – but alas, Mudder has eaten my blank canvas and I will never see my masterpiece.

Yes, I know that I am late for the 4th of July, but I prefer to think of it as early for next year.

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