Stretch and Grow

God has a way of making you stop and realize that you are not in control. This summer has not gone as planned at all! We wanted to go camping, go to the beach, take a train trip, and countless crafting and pottery projects. But, alas, none of that has happened. I haven’t even been able to blog (so sorry). Instead, I’ve been nearly confined to my bed. Why?, you may ask. It’s not as horrible as it could be. In fact, it’s not horrible at all.

This is where that control thing comes in. I’m 35, I have 4 kids, and I had plans of a great pottery business that I started building now that my youngest was old enough. Life was looking like it was slowing down a bit for me. I was getting comfortable. But God doesn’t want us to be comfortable. He wants us to be stretched to our limit so that we reach Him. I believe our whole life is a series of stretching and releasing. I was in a release, then God began to stretch. It started slowly and then increased dramatically.

The slow stretch started in April. We found out that we were going to be grandparents! My stepson had gotten married and they were expecting. Although this was a little shocking, it was wonderful news. Nothing like a grandchild to bring you joy and make you feel old all at the same time. My husband jokingly said with a little seriousness behind it, “Well, we can’t have any more. It would throw off the whole balance of things, having an aunt or uncle after a niece or nephew is born.” We laughed and life went on for a bit like normal.

But God, in His infinite love and wisdom, was just beginning to stretch. May started out just fine. School was coming to an end and we were working hard to finish on a good note. Again I was getting comfortable. My stepson and his wife live several states away, and although we spoke to them often, their news didn’t affect our everyday life. At the end of May we got that news that would affect our everyday life. We found out that our grandchild would in fact have a younger aunt or uncle. I found out that I’m expecting! A fifth child was not planned but was not unwelcome either. It showed us that we were not in control like we thought, and that was ok. The kids were super excited when we told them. We told them fairly early on because we knew I would be sick and we didn’t want them wondering why mom was throwing up all the time.

My morning sickness was pretty bad but it didn’t make me think twice about anything. I’d had it with all the other pregnancies and was expecting it. I tried to keep things as normal as possible but there were days that I was so exhausted and nauseous that the only place I had any comfort was in my bed. My first ultrasound was scheduled for the day before my 35th birthday. I went like I was visiting an old friend. With 4 kids already, I have had numerous ultrasounds. This one seemed no different, until she put the probe on. The big stretch was here. I could see it right away, TWINS! Two beautiful heartbeats! The whole time she’s measuring and doing whatever they do, I’m praying, “Jesus! God, what are doing? Twins! Really?” In my mind I was barely taking care of the 4 I had and He wanted me to have 2 more at the same time!

The tears didn’t start flowing until I somehow made it to my husband’s work. I handed him the ultrasound pictures and just started bawling. He thought something bad was in the picture, men can’t read those blobs. Finally, I blurted out “We’re having twins!” He just laughed and laughed, relieved that we were having 2 healthy babies instead of 1 sick one or worse. He took the rest of the day off to help me cope and calm down. We told my mom and kids. She cried too. It was a whirlwind of emotions.

At first, the tears were out of fear. Fear that I’m not good enough. My children are many great things but easy isn’t one of them. When you’re being stretched you can’t always see what good the stetching will do. Sometimes being a mom is the hardest thing I do. Ok, most of the time it’s the hardest thing I do. It’s so hard to see God working in their little lives when they are fighting and I am yelling. But then there are those moments when they are best friends and they are laughing together and growing together and learning to love. I have to force myself to believe that I helped teach them that.

The fear tears led to reality tears. How are we going to afford twins? We need a bigger car. We need double of everything. Diapers! I didn’t stop and think of just how wealthy God is really is. These things are nothing to Him. It was in His perfect plan that we have twins, He was going to provide us with everything we need from the start. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. We’ve all heard that. I have a long way to go in my pregnancy and He has already taken care of most of the reality fears.

In my humanness, there is still something that I cry about. It may seem strange, but I often feel very lonely and burdensome. I am sick constantly. I still have a few weeks left of my first trimester which, hopefully, means just a few more weeks of nausea, vomiting, and extreme exhaustion. I don’t leave the house much, in fact, I don’t leave my bed much. My husband is amazing, and I know he is tired after working and taking my place on top of his is hard. My mom helps a lot, too, in addition to her own job and home. Even my older kids are helping out a little more. I still often feel like a burden. In these times, I’m reminded of all the lame and sick that Jesus healed. He didn’t find them burdensome. Part of the stetching is being humbled and allowing others to be Jesus to us. We may not like it because it looks like weakness, but in our weakness He is strong. As humans, this is so hard for us to comprehend. We want to be the strongest, the best, the one that people look up to. We forget that when people looked up to Jesus, He was dying on a cross. Suffering is a stepping stone to heaven. This experience of suffering reminds me of an amazing book I’ve read several times. It’s called Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
I highly suggest this book. It is a small easy read that uses analogy to explain suffering and Christ’s love for us through it.

There have been tears of joy, too. Basking in the miracle that not one but TWO babies are growing inside me brings this pregnancy to a new experience. The joy in the kids faces when they ask for the hundredth time this week how big the babies are is contagious. Life with twins will be hard but oh so rewarding! I can’t wait to touch their faces and hold them close. I can’t wait to watch them snuggle with each other. I can’t wait to watch them bond.

This stretch that I’m experiencing may last a while. It will be hard but it will not be more than I can handle with God. There will be sleepless nights and days where I sit in a corner and cry, but they won’t last. And in the end, I will grow to be a better mom, a better wife, and a better daughter of the King. These stretches will help me get to heaven.

I would love to offer my suffering right now for your intentions. I know there are people out there suffering so much more than I am that do not see an end or have something to look forward to like I do. I want to pray for you. Feel free to leave your intentions in the comments and I will pray for all of them. I ask for your prayers for me and my family as well. Great things can happen when we pray as a community. Thank you!

Keri

Summer = Chores

During the school year my kids don’t have a list of chores to do. Yes, they are expected to clean their room, clear the table, and pick up their stuff, along with the occasional family Saturday super clean. But when school lets out and homework stops, the regular daily chores start. I’m not so good with charts. In fact, I suck at them. So this year I thought I’d try something a little different. Each of my girls has a binder and in their binder is a page for each day and a list of pay chores at the end. They each got to pick out the color of their binder and even decorate with stickers. Each day they are expected to do the few chores that are listed, read or do some work in a workbook, and recite some prayers. The reading and prayer time is done while I’m getting my toddler to nap. So far school has been out for 2 weeks and things are going great. After breakfast, the TV goes off and they know that they have to get their binder, find the day and do their chores. Now, things don’t go dandy everyday. There is complaining and my 7yo always tries to switch something with one of her sisters. But for the most part, they know what to do and are doing it. My house isn’t perfectly clean, but I can relax in the afternoons knowing that my living room is straight and my sink is empty. For those of you who would like to try out my chore binders, I’ve included free printables. Yay! Free Printables! Feel free to change these up to fit your needs. monday-02

Monday 01 Monday 02 Monday 03 Tuesday 01 Tuesday 02 Tuesday 03 Wednesday 01 Wednesday 02 Wednesday 03 Thursday 01 Thursday 02 Thursday 03 Friday Chores for pay

I hope everyone has a fabulous summer. Keep an eye out for my next blog, I’ll be sharing all about my daughter’s mermaid birthday party. We got rained out and had to stay inside but that didn’t stop the fun.

Follow me for more craftiness and all around good times.

Keri

The Ceramist’s Studio, a look at my most recent ceramic work

My studio is still very much a work in progress, but my goal this summer is to make it as close to what I want it to be as possible. My wonderful hubby helped some this past week by finding me a slip casting table and pump just in time for Mother’s Day. I haven’t had a chance to try them out yet, but I’m hoping to soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share the pieces that came out of my most recent kiln firing. Most of my work is either wheel thrown or cast in a mold. All of these and more are available for purchase at my Etsy shop RefinedBlessings.

Custom made ring holder with initials and date

Custom made ring holder with initials and date

Lilac and white speckled soap dish

Lilac and white speckled soap dish

White speckled soap dish with fleur de lis inlay

White speckled soap dish with fleur de lis inlay

Green soap dish with dragonfly inlay

Green soap dish with dragonfly inlay

Ring holder with green glass accents

Ring holder with green glass accents

Ring holder with blue glass accents

Ring holder with blue glass accents

White speckled creamer

White speckled creamer

Lilac and white speckled vase

Lilac and white speckled vase

Tall lilac vase

Tall lilac vase

Tall green vase with leaf inlay

Tall green vase with leaf inlay

Thanks for looking.

Keri

Mermaid Shell Top Tutorial

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Good morning! I can’t believe that I’m actually writing a post before 10pm. Let’s see if I can get through this before my son needs anything. Ha!

Anyway, for the top to our mermaid costume I mostly followed this great blog that I found on Pinterest, our favorite go to site for things to make. I was inspired by this whole costume but went my own way for the skirt. My daughter wanted a rainbow skirt so I added scales. I also wanted to spend as little as possible and used fabric that I already had without buying anything new.

So, here’s the link http://twobobbinslater.com/2013/09/25/diy-little-mermaid-costume/.

Stayed tuned for more mermaid crafts coming up. The birthday party is fast approaching.

Thanks for stopping by,

Keri

Sew a Little Mermaid Tail … A Tutorial

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I can’t believe how long it’s been since I wrote a blog post. Life can sometimes take over and we lose track of time. It seems like forever ago that I made my daughter’s mermaid tail but it was really just a week and a half. She loves it! And it wasn’t too hard to make, if you don’t mind cutting out 65 half circles. No, really, it wasn’t that bad.

I started out measuring her waist and the length from waist to knees. For me that was 21″ waist and 13″ to her knees. Adding a little for seam allowance I cut out of my semi-stretchy material 11″ from the fold and then 14″ down. This makes up the base of the top of the tail. For me the only thing that mattered about this material was that it was stretchy. I had some black fabric left over from a ninja costume that worked out perfectly for this. I was covering it up with 65 mermaid scales so the color didn’t matter at all.

After that was serged all around, I cut 3 pieces of chiffon from scraps that I had for the fin part of the tail. I made them twice the width of the base (44″) so that I could gather and then one was 9″, one was 13″, and one was 17″ (don’t ask where I came up with those numbers, I have no clue). Then serged those edges.

Here’s a fun trick that my sister-in-law taught me. I always hated gathering until she showed me this. I put the 3 pieces together with the right sides all facing the same way and even at the top. Then I took some thicker thread like upholstery thread and lined it up under the foot of my sewing machine so that I could zig-zag with the thread in the middle.IMG_0198_onlineWithout catching the thicker thread, zig-zag all the way across the top.IMG_0199_online Then, gently pull the thicker thread to gather. Tie off when the top is the width needed. So easy!IMG_0200_onlinePin gathered edge to bottom of base, right sides together and stich. This part can then be put aside for what will seem like ages while lots of scales are cut out. Or if you don’t want scales, you can put a seam up the back, hem the top and be done with it. My little mermaid wanted a rainbow tail, so here I go cutting out mermaid scales.

I printed out a 4.5″ half circle that I made in photoshop (you can get it here!) on cardstock. Then I picked out 5 shiny fabric scraps that I had and cut out a rectangle big enough for 13 half circles from each one. After I ironed on fusible lining to each one, I traced the half circles to cut out.IMG_0192_onlineAlong the edge of the fin on my base fabric, I pinned one of each color half circle, and then stitched across the tops of each of them.IMG_0206_onlineThe next row was put in on top of these off-set. I had to cut a half circle in half for either side.IMG_0207_onlineI continued this until I reached the top, every other row I had to cut a half circle in half.IMG_0208_onlineTo finish off the top, I cut out a piece of one of the scraps and made a top. Then I stitched up the back and was finished!

I really am pleased with how it turned out and my daughter absolutely loves it. She may wear it out before her birthday party.

Follow my blog so you don’t miss how I made the shell top to this fabulous mermaid costume. And please share this with your friends.

Thanks!

Keri

Follow Me Under the Sea … Free Printable!

Mermaid-Invitation_onlineMermaid party preparations are finally under way. Today I spent most of the morning designing the invitations (which I will include as a free printable!) when I should have been cleaning my house.

I’ve searched high and low for the perfect mermaid tail pattern and have not found one that I like within a reasonable budget. No worries, though. I’m confident that I can make a pattern and then I’ll be able to share it with you.

Something that my daughter has asked for is an Ariel blanket. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to approach that, too. I like the cute mermaid tail blankets that their legs fit in, but I’m just not sure that my daughter will want that. Also, I’m pretty sure that it will become a jumping sack and a nose bleed will be inevitable. So, my next option is a quilt type blanket.

I’m hoping to start on either of those in the next day or so. Yay!

But in the meantime, here’s the invitation printable. I have two options for you. The first is two on the page the second is 4 on the page. Hope you like it.

As always, please share! Thanks for stopping by.

Mermaid Invitation

Mermaid Invitation 4 up

The Woodwright’s Shop

It’s been pouring down here in the South for what seems like forever (really just a week, but it was everyday in that week). Finally, the weekend hit and the sky was beautiful. We got home from church today and stayed outside until dinner. It was divine. Of course I had to make something. So I went back to the days when my children loved watching The Woodwright’s Shop. We would put it on thinking that they would fall asleep in just a few minutes and 3 episodes later we are all amazed at what Roy Underhill has made with such ease and rudimentary tools that we have to force ourselves to turn the tv off before we start another one. My project today was very easy to make but, alas, I used power tools. I still think Mr. Underhill would be proud.

In my kitchen next to my sink I have four necessary bottles that I’m sure are in everybody’s kitchen: hand soap, dish soap, hand sanitizer, and lotion.IMG_0155_online They were just sitting there as ugly as could be. I decided to make a box for them to sit in. My hubby is awesome at pallet projects. In fact, the table that my wood is on he made from pallets. He has a few pieces of pallet that he didn’t need so I took them.IMG_0157_online Using his chop saw, I cut 3 lengths of 12″ and 2 slightly larger than 3″ for the sides, then sanded the edges.IMG_0159_online I fit the pieces together, glued the sides and clamped them to hold them into place. Don’t glue the bottom just yet. That will come later.IMG_0160_online Since pallet wood is usually made of very hard wood, it is always best to drill pilot holes before drilling in the screws. If you don’t the wood will split, ruining your project. I put two 2″ drywall screws into each side.IMG_0163_onlineIMG_0167_online Then I put glue on the bottom edges, drilled my pilot holes, and screwed on the bottom. In order to keep the screws from scratching my countertop, I hot glued some cork to the bottom.IMG_0178_online I thought I was done, but my uber-smart hubby suggested some embellishment. He was so right! He has a collection of handles and knobs that he has gathered over the years from old furniture. I found one that I liked and put it on the front.IMG_0187_online I LOVE it! I’m so excited at how it turned out.

I hope you enjoyed my pallet project as much as I did. I’d love to hear from you. Please share this with your friends and follow my blog for more craftiness.

Keri

The Amazing Spidey-Lamp!

My husband is a comic book fanatic. He’s a 12 year old stuck in a 42 year old’s body. Poor guy. But really it’s a 12 year old’s dream. I’d describe his comic room but he won’t let me. (You can check out his cool comic book review blog here.) So, the other day he asked me to make him a Batman lamp. He’d give me some old comics and I was to Mod Podge them onto the shade. Wheels starting turning and a lamp that was on my son’s nightstand came to mind. Needless to say, this turned into a project for my son not my husband (he has too much stuff in his comic room anyway).

My son’s lamp was not bad, he’s just growing so fast and it was a little babyish. He has a Spiderman comforter on his bed so I decided to upgrade the lamp to match. Reluctantly, my hubby gave me a duplicate of a worthless comic to tear up. Yay! I had everything I needed to get started. IMG_0106_onlineAt first I had blue spray paint for the base but was quickly reprimanded and told that anything Spiderman needs a red background, not blue. Whatever. After everything was properly taped up, I got to work spray painting.IMG_0108_online I painted the base red and the shade with a gray primer, hoping the design underneath wouldn’t show through (more on that later). I then picked the best panels from the comic and used a paper cutter to cut them out.IMG_0110_online When my shade was dry it was Mod Podge time!IMG_0111_online I put Mod Podge on the shade and then fit the pieces together the way I liked them. The shade turned out great but there were spots at the top and bottom that I just couldn’t get a piece of comic on, so I decided to get some red ribbon the put around the top and bottom.IMG_0130_online This was a little tricky as the shade is curved and the ribbon is straight.IMG_0135_online I had to hot glue about an inch of ribbon on the front and then snip the ribbon and hot glue to the back.

When it was all done, I was super pleased with the results.IMG_0141_online IMG_0137_onlineWe put it in place and it works perfectly with his Spiderman comforter. IMG_0143_onlineSo here’s the more part about the shade, we put it in the room and turned it on. Unfortunately, some of the design from before did show through. I’m going to go back and spray paint the inside of the shade as well. I hope that takes care of the problem. I’d love to hear your comments and to know of any lamp re-dos that you have done or plan to do. If you like this, please share!

Thanks for visiting!

Keri

A Mermaid’s Tale….

Today my almost 5 year old informed me that she has finally made her decision about her upcoming birthday party theme. With the party about six weeks away I really do hope this is her final decision because once I start making things for the party there is no changing minds. You see, I have 4 kids and I want them to have the best memories of their birthday parties. Unfortunately, grand parties at the local party hot spot are not in our budget. Of course, my kids always ask for those parties whenever we leave one, and I hope that we will be able to give them at least one before they are grown (maybe for their 10th birthdays, who knows). But for now, homemade parties it is, and I sure do love giving homemade parties!

So tonight, I’m mostly brainstorming with you. I hope I can get your help.

She has asked for an Ariel birthday party. (Thank goodness she changed her mind from a My Little Pony/Pokémon party!) Mermaids I can do! And the wheels are already turning in my little crafty brain. Hopefully, all the ideas I throw out in this blog post will be future blog posts before the big day.

First things first, I love making costumes and my little girl loves wearing them. So a mermaid costume is a must. Just like every mom and woman with internet access, I have scoured Pinterest for costume ideas. I’m not a big fan of tutus (I know, I know hush it!). Toule is just a pain in the rear to work with, and pretty much everybody and their dog have tutus. I want this mermaid costume to be amazing! Disney will be calling me to make costumes for their park characters after seeing the mermaid costume I’m going to make. But too bad, Disney, I have, I have…. no excuse not to take that imaginary job offer. Well, we’ll see.

Next on the list, games. So far, talking my husband into setting up the pool that my dad pulled out of storage still in the box is not going as well as planned. Swimming party might be out to sea (lol, I crack myself up.) In that case, I’ll need some pretty spectacular games to keep these kids happy. Just off the top of my head right now:

Guess the Human Things – Sticking their hands in a paper bag with something in it and they have to guess what it is without looking.

Painting Shells

Pin the Kiss on Prince Eric

Human Things Scavenger Hunt

I’m up for suggestions in this area. Any good ideas for mermaid party games that don’t involve water? Please let me know!

Food, food, food! For me this has to be simple. I like to think I can cook, but really I know my limits. With food allergies these days I’m going to steer clear of real seafood, just to be safe. I did see some cute sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter to look like starfish, I can do that. And I bet if I cut cucumbers (one of my daughter’s favorites) with a cheese slicer I can make it look like seaweed. Hmmm, what about Little Debbie cakes cut open with a pearl on the inside? I’ll have to look into that. Suggestions welcome here as well. I’ll try just about anything if I can.

Well, I don’t know about you, but my brain is soaked with all this brainstorming. I can’t wait to read all of your comments with your ideas for our mermaid party. I won’t be starting on the mermaid costume yet, but stay tuned. I have a few projects that I have in mind for the next couple of posts then I’ll come back to party planning. Thanks for reading. And if you don’t want to miss any of my blog posts please follow me.

Keri

Come on in and have a seat….

There is nothing more relaxing to me than sitting down with a good book. Not sure if anyone noticed, but the title to my blog is a play on words with one of my favorite novels Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen. I was reading a library copy of it when I met my husband. He was impressed that I checked out a book from the library for pleasure. But a good book is not much fun without a comfortable place to sit. Not long ago my husband found a vintage chair at a thrift store for $5. It was ugly and uncomfortable and in so much need of love. I took it upon myself to love the chair and bring it back to life. Here it is in all of it’s ugliness.chair.07 I already had most of the tools and materials that I needed. Here’s a list of what I used:

staple gun (the big kind, not the dinky paper ones)

T150 staples

hammer

flathead & phillips screwdrivers

needle nose pliers

about 2 yards of upholstery fabric

about 2 yards of muslin

2″ foam pad from a craft store (this is the only thing I didn’t have)

I started by taking off the first layer of fabric. For this I used the flathead screwdriver, needle nose pliers, elbow grease, and bad words. (Sometimes I think the only way to get a stubborn staple out is with a bad word, just saying.) Underneath the lovely (ha) top layer, was the not-so-bad original. chair.08If it wasn’t for some fading and a few thinning rips I might have kept it, but, alas, I had lots more work. In order to get this original fabric off I had to take the chair apart.chair.05I know, I know, it looks pretty sad at this point. It gets better, I promise, but not yet. The next picture might not be suitable for those with a weak stomach (just kidding). If you ever wondered what they made chairs out of in the late 60’s here is your answer.chair.06The springs were fine, but the hay and foam were nasty. Even my dog was like “What the heck are you doing? This smells bad.” That stuff quickly went in the garbage. I saved the fabric, though, to use as a template.

The next step was putting the new stuff on the chair. I cut the foam to fit the wooden frames and used the fabric template to cut the muslin and upholstery fabric. On the floor I laid the muslin, then the foam, then the wooden frame. I pulled the muslin on one side and stapled once in the middle to the bottom of the frame. On the opposite side, I pulled the muslin as tight as I could and stapled once on that side. I did the same to the other two sides. Once there was one staple on each side, I went around pulling tight, going back and forth, stapling, leaving the corners. I then folded each corner and stapled neatly. This same process was done for the top of the chair and with the upholstery fabric.

After all the fabric was stapled in place, I put the chair back together. I think I had to add a bolt or two where some were missing, but all in all it went back together quickly. chair.02Grand total for this project was about $20. Not bad for a vintage chair. We have it nicely paired with a vintage lamp table in our bedroom, perfect for reading.

I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did. Please follow my blog for more.

Keri