Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Homemaker's Must-Have Apron

A homemaker’s best friends can be a pair of good-fitting rubber gloves and an appropriate apron.  These are two items I cannot live without!  I even take them with me when camping.  My favorite brand of rubber gloves are Playtex (the purple kind).  

One December, we had a sewing activity making aprons in Relief Society.  My two teenage daughters and I made aprons to wear when cooking or cleaning.  Aprons really save your clothes so I have lots of them.  Because aprons are so important to me as a homemaker, I adapted the pattern instructions so that everyone can see how easy making Sister Becky’s aprons can be.  (See Becky's Like Badge under Cottage Industries, to the right).  This also makes a great gift! 

All of the fabrics can be the same pattern, or you can go wild.  The fabrics in the following pictures are from my scraps pile.  You may want to start with scraps of fabric for the first apron so you can get the hang of things.  (Your practice apron can be worn to clean the bathrooms or work in the garden).  Here is the materials list:

3 yds. of 7/8” grosgrain ribbon
Matching thread
Approx. ¾ yd. fabric for the Apron Body
¼ yd. for the Pocket
½ yd. for the Lining

For aprons, I like to use a cloth that does not require much ironing.  Wash fabrics according to the directions you will find at the end of the bolt in the store.  Usually washing fabrics with like colors on cold is a safe bet.  Iron the fabric as directed before starting the sewing project.

Cutting Instructions:
Apron Body
Fold the ¾ yd. fabric in half, right sides together.

Cut a 17 inch width (folded) x 27 inch length (folded) piece of material.

With fabric positioned vertically place a pin 1 ½ inches from the cut side of material. 

Using a straight-edge (whatever is handy), and a chalk or marker, draw a slanted cutting line from the pin to the bottom right edge, then cut on line through both layers of fabric.

Next, print off the following two pictures to use as patterns for the curved portion of the apron. 
Print these pattern pieces at Google Docs.  

Trim to black lines on each.
Place apron pattern top curve as shown along folded side.

Place apron pattern bottom curve so it lines up with the top curve pattern as shown, lined up with cut side (slightly overlaps).

You can tape these two pieces to make pattern piece.  Pin in place and cut through both layers of fabric.

Now is a good time to trace your cut Apron Body onto freezer paper to make a more permanent pattern piece and eliminate many of the steps above.

Apron Lining
Measure 14 ½ from the top left corner of your Apron Body Pattern and fold the bottom half of the pattern under.  Now you have an Apron Lining Pattern.

Cut the apron liner making sure the straight edge of your pattern is on the fold like shown.

Cut an 8 x 20 inch rectangle from the pocket fabric.

Sewing Instructions:
Fold top ¼ inch to wrong side and press.

Fold top 1 inch to wrong side and press.  Sew top at sides, clip corners.

Turn to right side out, press, and top stitch top of pocket.  

Find center of pocket and mark with straight pen.  Match center of pocket to center of apron, matching up lower edge of apron with lower edge of pocket.Top stitch pocket to apron at pocket sides.  Stitch lines to create smaller pockets now.  Back stitch at top of pocket when sewing.

Turn lining lower edge under ¼ inch and press.  Turn under ¼ inch again and press.

Stitch lower edge.

Pin lining to apron, right sides together.  Stitch upper apron from top side to top of apron on both sides (sew curves).
Place a pin 1 inch from each end of the top of the apron.  Sew from pin to pin, leaving 1 inch open on each side.  This is where your ribbon will come through.  Adjust opening according to ribbon size.

Finish seams by serging, or zigzag stitching, or using pinking shears.

Turn right side out and press.

Turn under apron side and lining side ¼ inch and press.  Repeat.  Stitch.

Turn under apron bottom ¼ - ½ inch (photo) and press, then repeat and stitch.

Mark front of apron 1 inch from edge, (I put a piece of tape on my sewing machine to mark 1 inch).  Top stitch each arm hole edge 1 inch from edge. This forms casing to run ribbon through.

Run ribbon through ribbon casings.

Measure ribbon to needed length by trying apron on, and trim to fit.  Place fabric glue along cut ribbon ends and let dry so ribbon won’t fray.

Now that I’m done with the trial apron, I need to get some fabulous fabric and trim to make the “real” apron.  For another cute apron idea, go to one of my favorite blogs, We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chick Lit

I live in gratitude to my parents for initiating me--and as early as I begged for it, without keeping me waiting--into knowledge of the word, into reading and spelling, by way of the alphabet.  They taught it to me at home in time for me to begin to read before starting school.  My love for the alphabet, which endures, grew out of reciting it but, before that, out of seeing the letters on the page.  In my own story books, before I could read them for myself I fell in love with various winding, enchanted-looking initials drawn by Walter Crane at the head of fairy tales.  In "Once upon a time," an "o" had a rabbit running it as a treadmill, his feet upon flowers.  When the day came years later for me to see the Book of Kells, all the wizardry of letter, initial, and word swept over me a thousand times, and the illumination, the gold, seemed a part of the world's beauty and holiness that had been there from the start.  ~Eudora Welty

Summertime is a great time to go to the Library and join their reading program.  If you aren't going to read with your kids now, when are you?  Make it fun--and buy the books you really love to start your own home library.  Be sure to teach children the proper way to treat and store books.  Click here for wonderful summer "Family Reading Activities" ideas from the Friend, May 2005 31.  

Listed are books that YOU read to your child!!!  They are a small list of our family's home library.  Learn to read to your children--it will improve your own reading skills, (just ask my husband who read nightly to our children: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Charlotte's Webb, The Secret Garden, etc. and the kids' favorite story books).  Be sure to read a book before you read to the kids so you are familiar enough to use funny voices, etc.  The ISBN number is given after the book and author so that they can easily be found online or at bookstores.  I recommend Goodreads.

Summer Fun Ideas:  
Late-night Reading
Bookworms and night owls unite in this special literary treat.  Give your kids a flashlight and let them stay awake later than usual to read in the dark.  They'll start looking forward to bedtime, plus they'll get in some extra reading time.  Try ten minutes on weeknights and longer (or unlimited) time on Fridays.

Starting a Personal Library
Scour yard sales and used-book sales and find about 50 books, then buy a date stamp and ink pad (washable), and purchase book pockets and book cards (the local teacher's store sells them individually or by the packet). Children will spend hours checking out books and hosting story time at the new "neighborhood library." 

A list of My Collection of Children's Literature to Read to a Child includes:

First books to read to little ones because they are repetitive and help your child predict what is next which helps them learn to read:
  • Big Red Barn, Margaret Wise Brown 0694006246
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bill Martin Jr./Eric Carle (Caldecott Award) 0805017445
  • The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle 0590937111
  • The Napping House, Audrey Wood/Don Wood 0152014179
  • The Caterpiller and the Polliwog, Jack Kent 9780671662813
  • Pig Pig Gets a Job, David McPhail 0525446192
  • Frederick, Leo Lionni (Caldecott Award) 0394810406
  • The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown 0064430189
  • Goodnight Moon, 0064430170
  • Leo the Late Bloomer, Robert Kraus 0590622706

Early Childhood
  • One-Minute Bedtime Stories, by Shari Lewis 0385152922
  • The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider Fingerplays and Action Rhymes, Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson 0688108059 Great for teachers of young children--especially nursery
  • Hedgie's Surprise, Jan Brett 0439224098
  • Gingerbread Baby 0439137454
  • Town Mouse, Country Mouse 059022297X
  • Chrysanthemum, Kevin Henkes 0688147321
  • Chester's Way 0590440179
  • Julius, the Baby of the World 0590108964
  • Shelia Rae, the Brave 059046406X
  • Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak 0060254920
  • George Shrinks, William Joyce 059045031X
  • Imogene's Antlers, David Small 0590420267
  • Hooway for Wodney Wat, Helen Lester 061821612X
  • Hazel's Amazing Mother, Rosemary Wells 0590234005
  • Five Minutes' Peace, Jill Murphy 0590443895
  • Just Go To Bed, Mercer Mayer 0307119408 BEST BOOK EVER!  Love Little Critter
  • Just Me and My Dad 3350081839
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter 051705079X
  • The Tale of Benjamin Bunny 0517050803
  • The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck 0517050773
  • Bread and Jam for Francis, by Russell Hoban, illust. by Lillian Hoban 0590478435
  • A Baby Sister for Frances 0590478451
  • A Birthday for Frances 0590486918
  • Best Friends for Frances 059047846X
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends, Arnold Lobel, 0590045296
  • Frog and Toad All Year 0590312073
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst 0590421441
  • Miss Nelson is Missing, James Marshall 0590118773
  • Red Riding Hood 0590449915
  • The Bremen Town Musicians, Hans Wilhelm 0590447963
  • The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, by A. Wolf, as told to Jon Scieszka 0590443577

Primary Grades
  • Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder (winner of five Newbery Awards)
  • Little House Theater Kit, Douglas Love 0439132320
  • The World of Little House, Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson 059022798X
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook, Eugenia Garson 0439048842
  • Memory of a Large Christmas, Lillian Smith 0393000389
  • The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg 0590998099 (Caldecott Award)
  • Jumanji 0395304482
  • The Widow's Broom 0590475436
  • The Story of The Walnut Tree, by Don H. Staheli (about Pres. Hinkley) This is on the Friend Link above
  • Sarah Morton's Day, A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl, Kate Waters 0590474006
  • Molly's Craft Book, The American Girls Collection 156247118X
  • Molly's Cook Book 1562471171
  • Samantha's Cook Book 1562471147
  • The American Girls Party Book 1562476777

Intermediate Grades
  • Laura's Album (my personal favorite), William Anderson 0439062977
  • The Time Machine, H.G. Wells 0816728739
  • The Wind in the Willows, Home Sweet Home, Kenneth Grahame 1562933647
  • D'Aulaires' Greek Myths, 0440406943
  • Swan Lake, Margot Fonteyn (Parents' Choice Honors) 0152006001

  • The Hutchinson Treasury of Children's Literature, Alison Sage 0091761441
  • Favorite Poems for Children, Holly Pell McConnaughy 156619055X

Other Homemaker's Journal Posts with Book Lists

Take The Pledge
Read the Printed Word!

“The Library of Congress has 27,000,000 volumes.  If you were to read a book a week for 70 years, that would be roughly 3,500 books.  What does that tell you?  Don’t waste any time reading the wrong things, watching the wrong shows, visiting the wrong websites…there’s just not time for that.”  ~Joe J. Christensen  

Would you be interesting?  Read.  Would you know the best thoughts of the greatest people?  Read.  Would you know the earth and its peoples?  Read.  Would you know the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Read.  And with all your reading follow the advice of the wise Abbe Diment who said that we mustn't be content with reading good books; life is too short; we must read only the best.  ~Marba C. Josephson

Friday, May 27, 2011

In the Eye of the Beholder

Audrey Hepburn's Beauty Secrets
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. 
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, 
revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, 
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, 
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

There truly is nothing more beautiful than a wonderful personality.  I have met physically attractive people who quickly became unattractive after becoming better acquainted.  Adversely, I have met people who were physically plain or downright unattractive and through their own personal magnetism, became quite beautiful or handsome whichever the case might be.

We want you to live lives of spiritual maturity and fulfillment, free of unrealistic comparisons.  ~Elaine L. Jack, former general Young Women's president

Though disturbing to me, I have found that many extremely unattractive people can be quite vain!  They put on the "trappings" of style, wealth, or whatever makes them more impressive to others and then tend to be much more sensitive to and punitive about the way other people look.  

The gospel assures you that your value is not dependent on your looks or material possessions.  ~Elaine L. Jack

I have often commented (privately of course) that there are many overweight people who would be stunning if they slimmed down; at the same time, there are many slim people who are just never going to be considered physically beautiful due to what nature gave them to work with.  Amazingly, some of these same unendowed people seem to feel superior because at least they are not overweight!  So it seems hardly right that undeniably physically (shall I dare say it?) ugly people should put down other people for being too fat, too drab, doesn't wear makeup or go to the stylist or tanning beds every week....I mean--LOOK IN THE MIRROR!!!

In Mary Webb's Precious Bane...what is finally evolved in us is more than the fairy-tale longing that our inner beauty will be seen so clearly it will make us beautiful before the world; it is the longing to be known and loved for all our blemishes, our warts and wens and contradictions, to be "let in" whole.  ~Erika Duncan

Now this may sound pretty offensive to some folks, and if so, I apologize.  My point is that we cannot depend on our looks through life.  There has got to be more to us than that.  We should certainly make the most of our looks, but I personally don't think significantly changing those looks with phony hair color, a mask of makeup, material "stuff," and even surgery is the way to go.  When we die and go to Heaven, we will be our perfected selves.  I think this means that we won't need glasses, hopefully our teeth will be straight, we will have our natural hair color, and I am pretty sure there will be NO MAKEUP!  I believe we will wear modest clothing like what we wear in the temple.  And we will be as thin as God wants us!!!

Dear Lord, who made the face of me not all that I would have it be, not really homely, only plain, but strong and patient in the main.  Yet one, a man apart, who found me fair and gave his heart.  Now Lord, that I have grown more sage...into middle age.  I only ask, as face grows lined of countenance, it be described as kind; that wrinkles by my eyes will show a little humor as I go; that I may view my humble scene with glance of one content, serene, through grateful, shining eyes that see the blessings you have given me.  ~Ruth Perry

If we have changed our looks from a natural, neat and clean appearance to something that looks radically different from the way God made us, how will we recognize each other when we get to the "other side?"  Some women I know have NEVER let their husbands see them without makeup and are actually proud of this fact.  I feel so bad for them.  How must it be to look in the mirror and not love yourself?  

Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful. ~Sophia Loren

We should be grateful for what we have been endowed with and work on other things that are not just skin deep, like a wonderful, cheerful, loving personality, and our character and intelligence--all of which matters in the world beyond.

Beautiful faces are those that wear--
It matters little if dark or fair--
Whole-souled honesty printed there.
~Ellen P. Allerton

Other Pearls of Wisdom on Beauty:

We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?

An ugly voice repels me where an ugly face would not.  ~Agatha Christie

Our girls have need of such an example of graciousness, elegance, refinement, and spirituality.  ~Maria Dougall

The ideal necklace, the  most universally becoming piece of jewelry ever created...is a string of pearls.  Every woman should own a single strand pearl necklace, and a second one of three or five strands...Like roses in a vase, an odd number is more elegant than an even one.  ~Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions.  ~Lillian Hellman

When it comes to clothes, you can't have everything you want, but you can want everything you have.  ~Francie Herridge

The face you have when you are forty is exactly what you deserve.  ~Helena Rubenstein

Homemade beauty products that make the most of God's Creation:

Visit my other post for Spa-rific Bath Mixes to Give.

Lavender-Chamomile Facial Steam Mix
1 c. dried chamomile
1 c. dried lavender flowers
Combine chamomile and lavender in a mixing bowl and mix well.  Pour into decorative 1-pint container with tight-fitting lid.  Attach gift tag with raffia or ribbon.
Tip:  Buy dried lavender flowers at arts and crafts store.  For dried chamomile, use chamomile tea bags.  It will take 40 to 50 tea bags to equal 1 cup.
Tag:  Pour 1/2 c. Lavender-Chamomile Facial Steam Mix into knee-high stocking; knot and set aside.  Bring 1 quart water to boil in medium saucepan; remove from heat and place on hot pad.  Place stocking in water and steep 5 min.  Lean face 6-8 inches above saucepan.  Use a towel to make a tent over head and saucepan.  Steam for 10 min., then pat dry and moisturize face well.

Exotic Body Powder
1-1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. baking soda
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. sandalwood soap fragrance
Process all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until very finely ground.  Pour into decorative 1-pint container, preferably one with a shaker top.  Attach gift tag with raffia or ribbon.  Tip:  Buy soap fragrances at arts and crafts stores.  Yield:  2 c.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cleaning: Team-building Time for Families, organization part 4

When I was growing up, we used to have a "ghost" who was responsible for any messes around the house that no one else claimed responsibility.  What else can you do as a parent when you ask, "Who made this mess?"  That is why I have always enjoyed the following story:

Goodbye Mr. Nobody  
Lurking in our house is a grim, relentless creature.  He is elusive, but I can track his tricky trail with my carefully trained eye.  This disgusting creature has the gall to eat an entire box of doughnuts in one night.  He can devour a gallon of milk, leaving none for breakfast.  He tracks mud onto freshly mopped floors and leaves toys and clothing strewn throughout the house.  He hides coats, shoes, and even homework.  Who is this abominable alien?  Mr. Nobody.
I was tired of Mr. Nobody and the tension he created in our home, so I decided to try something new.  I invented Mr. Everybody.  Since Mr. Nobody was leaving the toys out, Mr. Everybody would pick them up.  Instead of demanding to know who left the mess, I had Everybody help clean it up. 

It took the children a few days to catch the spirit of Mr. Everybody.  But once they realized that I was no longer trying to place blame, we were able to resolve many minor problems.  Now that Everybody pitches in to help, we have much more cooperation and unity in our family.  (Velda Gilbert Mc Donald, "Good-bye Mr. Nobody," Ensign, 6/89)

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days
to Clean

Teaching Children to Clean
I haven't convinced my family yet but I firmly believe that shared chores build a family team.  I read that, "In a survey of 250 children, over ninety-seven percent honestly felt that they should work at home."  Which is probably one of those surveys where people say what they think they should say, not what they really believe!!!  However, I honestly believe that children like to help and know they should because finishing a task from start to finish builds self-esteem and so does keeping the house looking nice.

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.  (Proverbs 14:4)

Where mom is the primary meal manager, dads and eventually teens can become proficient at making a meal that is "their domain."  So this is a chore that all can take a turn and give Mom a break once-in-a-while.
A good method of delegating mealtime chores (for example):
  1. On a large index card, divide chores (in this case meal-related) as equally as possible into three groups (I have three kids).  Ours looks like this:  Blue=Set table, wipe counters and table, switch cards; Yellow=Unload dishwasher; Red=Wash dishes that can't go in dishwasher, put away food
  2. The index card is on the calendar in the kitchen.  
  3. On the calendar in each Sunday square are marks of blue, yellow, and red.  
  4. Beside each color is one of the kids' names.  
  5. If they don't like this weeks' tasks, at least they'll change next week.  
  6. Everyone is responsible for bringing in his own dishes from the table, rinsing them, and putting them into the dishwasher.
  7. Be Consistent!!!

Chores Instruction
With all chores, give a clear idea of what is expected of the child and when it must be completed.  One year when my kids were first learning to do chores such as cleaning the bathroom, I found a really good Achievement Day activity (I was an Achievement Day leader at the time) where I put the instructions for chores such as cleaning the bathroom on index cards.

I (patiently) showed them how to clean the toilet, tub, sink, floor, mirror, etc. repeatedly, until they could do it themselves.  I also instructed the children (and husband) on the location of the cleaning equipment and how to store it.  There was a performance standard expected and time frame in which the chore must be done.  

To this day, I have to ensure expectations are consistently maintained.  "If children are allowed to go two full weeks without doing their chores, they question whether they really need to do them at all.  Inspect jobs when they are done.  It says to a child that these tasks do matter.  Be generous and genuine with compliments for a job well done...If there is a problem, withdraw a privilege, but don't nag."  (Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg, Table Talk, Focus on the Family 1994 pp. 63-71)

The beauty of work depends upon the way we meet it; whether we arm ourselves each morning to attack it as an enemy that must be vanquished before night comes--or whether we open our eyes with the sunrise to welcome it as an approaching friend who will make us feel at evening the day was well worth its fatigue.  ~Lucy Larcom

Cleanliness is next to godliness.  The Spirit of God will not dwell in an unclean place--and that goes for your room as well as your body.  ~Florence S. Johnson

What this country needs is cleaner minds and dirtier fingernails.  ~Mark Twain

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.  ~Phillis Diller

Ma used to say:
Wash on Monday, 
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.
~Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder


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