Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


Ten Minute Creativity

As beings made in the image of God, we share the creativity of the one who made the universe.  I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get a chance to be creative, I get downright cranky.  The problem is that this happens pretty often, since I’m a busy mom.

Solution: Find something I can do in just a few minutes, or a few minutes at a time.  I’ve never had time to make any of my babies a quilt, although quilting is one of my favorite activities.  This time around, I made a very simple strip quilt and machine quilted it.  No measuring, no pattern, just one piece of fabric that was the right size for a crib quilt, strips of fabric sewn together for the front, sewed it together like a pillow case, and turned it inside out.  I added a tiny bit of simple hand embroidery, but altogether I probably spent no more than 2 hours total on my project, 10-20 minutes at a time.  It was so rewarding!  It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t like something a real quilter would do, but it made me happy to find a way to make something for my little one.

Here are a few other things you can do in 10 minutes:

Spray paint a picture frame or some other item.

Knit or do some other hand work (crochet, embroidery…) while you visit with your husband, child, or friend, talk on the phone, or wait for an appointment.

Journal for a few minutes before you go to sleep.

Create a simple centerpiece for the dining room table.

Plant flowers

Sew a small item (such as a pillow cover) that requires only straight lines and minimal measuring and detail work.

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg!  What are your favorite quick, creative things to do?


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Quick Creativity: Pillows

For years I created daily.  Then my life got busy and I didn’t create at all.  I didn’t think I had time.  But part of me withered.

Lately I’ve decided to make time.  Even if it’s just 10 minute snatches, which it usually is.

I’ve started looking for very quick projects, with shortcuts, straight lines, pre-finished details, like hems.   I love upcycling items like cloth napkins and old clothes so I can take advantage of the hems and selvages that are already there.

I wanted to lighten up my living room for spring and summer.  What better place to start than with pillow covers?

I made this one from an old Lands’ End shirt.  Yes, I cut up a perfectly good shirt to make a pillow cover.  It was a maternity shirt, though, which I will hopefully never need again.  The fabric is SO thick and a soft, cozy jersey.  I just laid my existing pillow on top, lined up the bottom with the hemmed edges, traced, and cut around it.  Then sewed up the three raw edges and added buttons.  I really love this one!

I saw a pillow like this on someone else’s blog.  I don’t remember where.  It’s not perfect but I still love it.  I made the ruffle from scraps of the shirt, so it kinda…matches?  Coordinates?  The jersey doesn’t ravel so I didn’t finish the edges (probably wouldn’t have finished the edges anyway).  The white fabric is 2 cloth napkins that I bought inexpensively and will never use.

This one is also not an original idea.  Do you know that the S is just colored on with sharpie?  How tacky and brilliant is that?  There are people who are even selling sharpie pillows!  I made this one out of fabric I already had.  I didn’t hem it.  I just left selvages on the open end.

This one took longer.  I was scrounging for some more fabric from my stash and found this thick, oatmeal flannel that I love.  I don’t know how it will hold up though.  It’s a loose weave and I noticed that the seams are already looking strained.

I only spent a few minutes at a time working on these, and I hardly measured anything.  I just took a risk and hoped for the best.  I kept remembering that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  Afterward I was so satisfied!  There was one that didn’t turn out so well (not pictured) but I’m going to work on it a little and see if it can be salvaged.  If not, oh well, I’m out zero dollars and only a few minutes of time.

How about you?  How do you manage to fit creativity into your days?


Linking to White Wednesday.

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10 on Tuesday

I’m copying Payton again.  Go read her great blog.  She’s hilarious and I love it!

1.  Today my son was supposed to start memorizing a poem for English. It was the Mother Goose rhyme “Once I Saw a Little Bird.”  He was completely unimpressed.  Apparently this poem was not nearly cool enough for him.  One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to tweak curriculum if it doesn’t fit the need.  Now I could make him memorize the little bird poem, but why not choose something more inspiring?  Like this…More challenging, but definitely a little grittier than Little Bird.

Stick to It (by Edgar Guest)

Stick to it, boy,

Through the thick and the thin of it!

Work for the joy

That is born in the din of it.

Failures beset you,

But don’t let them fret you;

Dangers are lurking,

But just keep on working.

If it’s worth while and you’re sure of the right of it,

Stick to it, boy, and make a real fight of it!

Stick to it, lad,

Be not frail and afraid of it;

Stand to the gad

For the man to be made of it.

Deaf to the sneering

And blind to the jeering,

Willing to master

The present disaster,

Stick to it, lad, through the trial and test of it,

Patience and courage will give you the best of it.

Stick to it, youth,

Be not sudden to fly from it’

This is the truth,

Triumph may not lie far from it.

Dark is the morning

Before the sun’s dawning,

Battered and sore of it

Bear a bit more of it,

Stick to it, even though blacker than ink it is,

Victory’s nearer, perhaps, than you think it is!

Old fashioned?  Yep, but true.

2.  Speaking of little boys and learning, I was completely encouraged by a couple of Anna’s posts.  I know, I linked to her last week too.  Here she mentions a proud mom moment as her son is a National Merit Finalist.  She also mentions that he was a late bloomer academically, reading at 8 and writing at 13.  In response to all the questions she received, she wrote this follow-up post. Because Anna is highly educated (a lawyer, practicing until recently) and she’s raising well-educated children to are excelling in their fields of interest and gifting, I sit up and take notice when she gives advice about homeschooling.

3.  My sister posts about home birth. I’ve had 5 hospital births with experiences that have ranged from decent to really good, but I’m still a bit jealous.  My dream birth would be in the hospital attended by a midwife.  The best of both worlds, IMO.  Since I’m probably done having kids I don’t have to worry about it any more, but it’s a nice thought.

4.  I made Darby’s chewy oatmeal bar recipe this weekend. They turned out pretty well.  I used almond butter, and they set up nicely.  A little too sweet, probably because I didn’t have all the extra nuts that would have boosted the protein.  I may try to cut back on the honey a little next time.  But overall, they were the best granola bars I’ve tried to date.  Insta-breakfast.  These days I’ll take all the help I can get.  Here’s another granola bar recipe I’m going to try soon.

5.  I love vintage art and illustrations, obviously.  I wonder if other people find these pictures annoying.  I can never remember which ones I have used, though, so the same ones might pop up over and over.

6.  Sweet baby is falling into a newborn routine of sorts. It’s something like, be happy and sleep all morning.  Be grumpy all afternoon.  At night, don’t cry, just grunt, squeak, and wiggle enough that no one else can sleep.  And get as many hugs and snuggles as possible.  Precious, precious.  At number 5 I just remind myself that the newborn stage only lasts for a few weeks.  And I remind myself to go to bed early.  Hitting the hay at 9 last night made all the difference in my state today.  I don’t know how most moms are, but if I don’t get something that resembles enough rest I cry and get headaches.  Not good for anyone.

7.  Right now I don’t have enough time to clean or do laundry adequately.  I’m thankful for my sweet helpers who keep it from getting too terribly out of hand.  I certainly don’t have time to decorate.  But I still love to peek at decorating blogs.  Lately I’ve been starting here, at Buckets of Burlap, and going through her blog roll.  I’ll open a few windows and take a quick look when I sit down with little one, or when I need a rest break.

8.  I’m not very good at commenting on other blogs. I have good intentions, but most of the blogs I read are on my feed reader, which I read on my iTouch, and I don’ t manage to hop over to the blog proper and leave a comment.  So consequently, I suppose I’m mostly talking into a void.  I should do better about this, because  it would be good to tell other writers how they have encouraged me.  I know I appreciate it when people leave kind comments.  That said, if you are a busy mom, feed readers are great.  I have used Bloglines and Google Reader, and I like GR best by far.  Their tagline is ” keeping up with your favorite websites is as easy as checking your email.” and it’s true.  It’s all in one place instead of hopping all over the internet.  I can read the things I want to keep up with in just a few minutes a day.

9.  Today my daughter got several missionary biographies from YWAM publishing. Highly recommend.  I read the story of Rachel Saint awhile back and couldn’t put it down.  As our children learn to enjoy reading, I think it’s important to give them reading material that’s going to encourage them spiritually.  Of course, my kids read “candy” books too.  But missionary biographies are great adventure stories that can get our kids thinking about important things.

10.  I guess I’m easily impressed, but I am just blown away by all the creativity the world of blogs has put at our fingertips.  As I read through decorating and craft blogs, sometimes I just think how amazing it is that God has made us in his image, reflecting his creativity as maker of the universe.  You can look at the work of 5,000 different people and not one is exactly the same, whether it’s in photography, wordcraft, ideas, decorating, or making things.  So inspiring.  I guess that’s kind of cheesy, but I think about it all the time.


Bargain Shopping: Holiday Clearance Edition

One of my favorite times to get bargains is post-holiday clearance sales!  Holiday items quickly go down to 75-90% off and you can get amazing deals.  Sometimes I buy holiday items to use the following year.  But truthfully, my favorite post-holiday shopping is when I find items that can be re-purposed to use all year long.

A few recent examples:

A fuzzy white throw for the living room–$5.  It came with a snowman pillow which I didn’t like, but I’ve been on the hunt for a white throw for awhile.  I recovered the pillow and used it in another room.

Bedroom curtains. They weren’t really curtains.  They were cranberry-colored Christmas tablecloths.  But with ring clips and tie-backs, they are now curtains.  $2.99 a panel.

Gift bags and wrapping paper. Valentine’s Day sales are great for these, especially if you have little girls who get invited to birthday parties.  Hearts are just for Valentine’s Day, seriously?  I got some adorable pink heart bags with pink polka dots for 50 cents at Target.  (I would post a pic but I don’t know how to load pictures from my new camera yet.)  Actually, anything hearts is on clearance after Valentine’s Day–so cute with so many uses!


The applications are truly endless!  What are your favorite post-holiday bargains?

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Cheap, Easy, Creative

I kind of cringe whenever I hear someone say that they can’t have a cute/decorated house or dress themselves or their children nicely because “I can’t afford it.”  I’ll add, don’t look at my house or clothes as an example, I’m in decorating and fashion preschool.  But I’m learning.  Between frugal decorating and clothing blogs, and my creative friends, I’m getting lots of good ideas.  Here are a couple I ran across yesterday.

Creative Juices Decor. Wow, this chick has made some amazing Pottery Barn knock-offs!  She guest posted here about how to make an adorable vintagey clock face. I love it!

One of my favorite crafty/housey blogs ever, Pleasant View Schoolhouse, posts an idea for the most frugal, cute, fast and easy little girl skirt.  With nothing more than a few thrifted t-shirtsand the most rudimentary sewing skills, your little girl can have a whole rainbow of soft, adorable skirts.  I’ll definitely be trying this one.

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Free or Cheap Gift & Gift Wrap Ideas


Even so, gift-giving is one of the great joys of the season.  Here are a few ideas for Christmas giving for next to nothing.

Time–babysitting (YES!), a free date with spouse/child…What about a commitment to spend an hour a week alone with just that child, going for a walk, playing a game, or doing a craft?  Promise of a meal delivered on a busy day?  The possibilities are endless—just make sure you follow through.  What about giving a mom the gift of a day to herself?  Now that’s my idea of a great gift!

Service-raking leaves, household repair, painting, cleaning, donating some other kind of service.

Photos (Grandparents especially love pictures of grandchildren).  Frame in thrifted or dollar store frames, or a dollar store album—CHEAP!

Handmade ornaments (salt dough, wood, stuffed felt—google for instructions)

Homemade play dough packaged nicely with a thrifted or dollar store cookie cutter (Easy recipe here)

Sewn gifts

Food/baked goods

Write a story for your children—one about yourself growing up, or make one up!  Illustrate it if you have any talent in that direction.  Kids will love even stick-figure illustrations.

Read a book on tape/cd for your children

Printable coloring book—google for free pages on the theme of your choice

Don’t rule out dollar and thrift stores! There are treasures to be found!

This looks like a good roundup of frugal gift ideas.

~~Frugal Wrapping~~

Brown paper packages tied up with string.  Brown paper and jute string are cheap.  Let your kids stamp/sponge/handprint/draw pictures on the paper in Christmas colors—or leave it plain.  I think it’s fun, simple and understated.

Or…same idea…white paper tied with whatever.  Here are some pics of white boxes, but the same look could be achieved with a cheap roll of white paper and bargain ribbon.  Big Lots is my favorite place to find cheap ribbon.

Martha Stewart—75 gift wrap ideas, some very inexpensive and beautiful.



Related: Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas


Links to Love

No time for a real post this holiday week, but here are links to a few things I’ve been enjoying.

Total frou-frou…I’ve loved perusing Scandanavian home blogs on my mini-breaks.  I started here and I’ve just been working down her beautiful blog roll.  Mostly all-white houses with accents of color…red, usually, or occasionally robin’s egg blue or colors from nature.  So restful.  I will never have a white house, but the natural palette is so soothing.

My friend Chasity recently wrote this thought-provoking post about the “closets” in our lives.  Check it out.

I also enjoyed my sister’s thoughts on spiritual rest. Wise words on stress.

I think I should read this book, A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family. It comes highly recommended from a blogger I greatly respect and enjoy.

Here’s an easy tutorial for making beautiful no-sew Christmas stockings. I recently discovered this Louisiana crafter.  She makes such pretty stuff.

Finally, happy happy Thanksgiving to each of you.  I have so many things to thank God for.


Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas

child stocking

I love Christmas, and it’s not too early to start thinking about it!   I love to give gifts. I have a lot of people on my gift list. And that can add up.

When my husband was a senior pastor, each year he took a special tree ornament to church and showed it to everyone from the pulpit. He made it out of the credit cards he melted a few years before we got married! The point: it’s not worth going into debt for Christmas. It’s possible to have a great holiday and give awesome gifts without breaking the bank.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to save money on Christmas gifts.

1. Buy throughout the year. Don’t let Christmas sneak up on you and end up looking for the perfect gift on Christmas Eve. Then you spend more money than you intended to on an impulse purchase.

2. If you have any craft or creative skills at all, use them to make gifts. Again, start early enough that you aren’t pressed for time when Christmas is almost upon you. This could be anything from clothes sewn by hand, to handcrafted Christmas tree ornaments, to stories written for your children, or favorite books read aloud on CD.

3. Shop discount or closeout stores like Marshall’s, Big Lots, or Tuesday Morning. Also check out local individually owned discount stores. You might have to sort through some junk, but you can find great buys at discount stores on everything from name brand clothes to stationery to housewares.

4. Buy in bulk and divide into inexpensive containers. Here’s an idea: Buy 50 lb. of steel cut oatmeal (cheap bought this way, but like gold if you get it in small amounts), package in quart jars tied with ribbon and a recipe for how to cook it.

5. Family and friends who live far away love to receive photos, especially if you have little ones in the house! Use inexpensive frames or pretty little photo albums.

6. Don’t feel like you always have to buy full priced, new off the shelf items. If someone on your list is a biliophile, find a book by their favorite author to add to their collection on Amazon or Ebay. You can often find items new with tags on ebay or at garage sales. Someone else payed full price for them, but you get them–still new–for a song! People frequently sell items in perfect condition that were probably never used. Add to someone’s collection with beautiful but inexpensive antiques from garage or estate sales. You might even find something brand new for free on Freecycle. But shhhhh, it will be your little secret!

7. Give the gift of time. Offer to rake leaves, babysit, or fix a meal for someone on your list. Make a certificate for a special tea time with your daughter or a fishing day with your son.

So you see, it’s possible to give a lot of gifts for not too much money. Use your imagination! You’ll find ways to save at every turn.

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Cooking, A Lost Art

Al Mohler has a very interesting article on the loss of cooking in Western culture.  Also worth checking out is this NY Times article by Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma).  It’s long, but has some great insights into the importance of cooking and why it’s fallen from fashion in our culture.  You can also listen to an NPR interview with Pollan here.

What do you think?  Were you raised in a cooking family or taught to cook as you grew up?  How has that affected the way you do or don’t cook today?  Do you think the notion of cooking is overrated in these articles, or is it something we should try to do more of?

These articles coincide with the release of the movie Julie and Julia, which is about Julia Child.  It’s at our local theater–I want to go!  Here’s the trailer.