Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mirror, mirror...

Ever look in the mirror? A gooood loooong look?


The longer you look in the mirror the more unhappy you will be. There are multiple reasons why monasteries don't have mirrors anywhere in them. After spending a week by myself at our home monastery last year, with no mirrors, I felt remarkably relaxed.

There's the "check the mirror for tags sticking out, loose ends, make sure you put both earrings in", etc., but anything other than that is flirting with danger.

But actually, this isn't a post about mirrors. At least not actual "mirror" mirrors.

It's about other mirrors. The human kind.

I'll just go ahead and state a few rules right now. Really good advice, the kind I always have a hard time following:
1. Do not base your opinion of yourself on what others think of you - good or bad.

2. Never compare yourself to others - good or bad.
If you're short on time, you can just commit those to memory and skip the rest of the post. :)

The internet is a remarkable, miraculous thing, and like other technologies it can be used for good or evil. Having internet means I've made friends over the world, become part of wider groups of women who are trying to conquer child-rearing, pregnancy loss, Orthodoxy, homeschooling, etc. I've made good friends whom I've never met in person (but hopefully will someday). I've been able to reach out to other women suffering the loss of their babies.

But there are temptations that come along with entering that wider, virtual world, and I don't mean the smutty sort. I mean the temptation to compare yourself to others. Now, we all have talents. Some of us are funny and can make others laugh and forget their troubles for a little while. Some of us are homeschool gurus and even write curriculum that will help countless families. Some of us have "that touch" with the home and can create a warm, welcoming, peaceful space out of two napkins and an egg carton. Some people are saints biding their time on this earth, encouraging others to reach higher. Some people are "child whisperers" and manage complicated schedules, overcome medical issues, take time to play Candy Land 27 times before making a nutritious dinner (at which everyone will eat their vegetables), etc. Some people have eight children and still maintain a "girlish figure", sharing their smoothy recipes and easy workout sessions.

Well, and then there are the rest of us, lol. (c; The ones who see an idea on Pinterest and try it only to watch it flop like the ears on a Velveteen Rabbit. The ones who try to disguise zuchinni in pancakes only to wind up with five kids eating cereal and a stack of pancakes to try to eat yourself over the next week. The ones who think of something, laugh hysterically for 20 minutes, write it up and post it...and hear crickets. The ones who are ashamed to admit that they homeschool for entirely practical reasons and would really like to shoo everyone out of the house just once so they can sit and watch the couch cushions stay on the couch for longer than 30 seconds. The ones who gave up a long time ago and let the coffee table be used for art projects instead of imitating sets on "House Beautiful". The ones who make unnecessary trips to the bathroom just so they can read "Southern Living" for five minutes without being interrupted. The ones who can wear the same clothes while 7 months pregnant as they did 7 months prior...and not because they haven't gained weight.

But life can be good! Even if you're a Pinterest failure, a Fly Lady dropout, burned out on homeschooling or overweight. The point of life isn't to win contests or publish best-sellers. Our life here is ONLY to prepare us for the life to come. (In which there will not be Pinterest...thank heavens.) We are all called to be saints, whether we're living in a monastery on top of a cliff or sitting hopelessly on the floor in the midst of crumbs and crayons (and on top of sharp legos). Having a sense of humor about yourself goes a long way towards having humility (or so I'm told...I may be the exception to that one...)

So don't compare yourself to all those other perfect people out there. We only see what others choose to share with us, and they're probably not sharing the photos of the melted crayons in the car or the seven laundry baskets piled up in the bedroom. Love each other, rejoice in the success of others, and if you must compare yourself to someone, look to Christ and the Theotokos.

Love y'all!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Free Pattern and Photo Tutorial for Simple Sewn Baby Booties

Tied version

Buttoned version

These shoes are made with two layers of fabric. (If you have a material that is sufficiently thick or durable, you may consider making it with one.) The ones I've made were with one layer of knit and one layer of flannel (although two layers of knit or two layers of flannel would work just as well). Something I want to point out is that you can make these from old t-shirts, onesies, blankets, fabric scraps, etc. The pattern shown will make newborn-sized booties, but you can easily size-up by enlarging the pattern.


Fabric for exterior of shoe (E)
Fabric for lining of shoe (L)
2 pieces of ¼ to 1/8 inch elastic, 3 inches long
4 pieces of baby ribbon, 5-6 inches long [OR, two buttons and two pieces of 1/8 inch elastic, 2 inches long]

(Pattern at bottom of post. Print out full-size.)

[Instructions are for tied version. Alternate instructions for buttoned version will be shown in brackets.]

  1. 1. Pin and cut out two each of A, B and C from both fabrics. You should have a total of 4 A, B and C pieces.

    Showing E fabric

    Showing L fabric
  2. Match the A pieces, one E and one L, wrong sides together. Stick a pin in the center.
  3. Match the B and C pieces in pairs, one E and one L each, right sides together. Pin. 

    ribbon version shown

    (only B shown of button version)

  4. Insert the ribbon inside the pinned pieces of B and pin each one at O so that the ends extend slightly outside the edge of B. [OR, fold 2 inch long elastic pieces in half and insert loop into seams where you would otherwise insert the ribbon. Put one loop on different sides of pinned B pieces.]

    ribbon version

    button version
    button version
  5. Sew along the dotted lines of each pair of B and C. Turn right side out. 

    ribbon version

    button version
  6. Pin B and C to A, E sides together. (The markings will help you line them up.) B and C will overlap as you extend them around the sides of A. Overlap them with C on the outside.

    Start by pinning B to A.

    Then pin C to A.

    top view after you've finished pinning

    bottom view after you've finished pinning

  7. Sew around the perimeter of A using a straight stitch first, then using a narrow zig-zag just outisde the straight stitch. (Do be careful about where your ribbons are at all times. It may be helpful to tuck them inside the shoe while sewing so you don't accidentally sew them into the seam.) Trim any extra fabric. (If you have a serger then just use that instead.) Turn shoe right side out.
    I suggest sewing from the bottom, not the top.

    After straight stitching, do a zig-zag just outside it.

    inside out

    right-side out

  8. Pin one elastic piece to B (the L side), at O. Using your zig-zag stitch set at 0 stitch length, tack the end in place. Repeat on the other edge at O. Reset the stitch length to about 3 and the width all the way up, and zig-zag along the elastic, stretching out the elastic to match the fabric as you go. [If you are using 1/8 inch elastic, you can straddle the elastic with the widest zig-zag stitch. This seems to work better than sewing directly through the elastic.]

    [Optional for button/elastic version: Hand sew your buttons on the side opposite the elastic loop.]

    You're done!

    (print this out full-size)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

And yet more baby sewing

 (Are you getting sick of this yet?)

I made a changing pad this afternoon out of some fleece (I'm actually starting to run out!) and one of those thingies that has flannel on both sides fused to a rubberized center. I can't find the name of it but they sell it as "changing pads" or "burp cloths". Anyway, I wanted to stitch the flannel thingy to the center of a larger rectangle of double-layer fleece, but I didn't have sufficient fleece.

So I stitched it to a double layer of purple fleece and then pieced some green fleece around it. Hey, it worked. The diaper bag I registered for* has purple trim so I figured why not match. (c;

 The back doesn't look as neat, but who cares?

I made a closure out of some elastic and a big purple button.

You fold the pad in half cross-wise and then roll it up, securing it with the elastic. This keeps the baby side (not the BABY, as I typed earlier) touching itself and not the "dirty" back side. 

I also made four decent-sized burp cloths. I wanted to keep my cloth diapers for diapering (although I make no promises about things doing double-duty...). So MORE fleece and flannel were used...

The flannel is the business side and the fleece goes against your shoulder (or lap or whatever). That should keep it from soaking straight through. Well, one can hope anyway.

And last but not least, Flopsy cut out a bib for the baby out of an old washcloth and an old t-shirt of hers. :) She wanted yellow bias tape so I got it out today and gave her a lesson in how to use bias tape. She helped pin and I did most of the sewing (tricky because the washcloth added a lot of bulk to the seams).

*Apparently I have been talked into an online baby shower so I completed a registry (for the first time since I was picking out wedding china). More information on that next week. :c)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sewn Baby Shoes (updated)

I had just a knitting/crocheting marathon on our trip that I've taken a few days off. [So no yarn-along today. I'll do one next week with some photos of gifts that haven't been received by the recipients yet. (c; ]

Yesterday I thought I'd sit down and do some sewing instead. I got out a large bag of flannel remnants, thinking I'd cut some out and make simple burp cloths (to save my cloth diapers for, you know, diapering). Inside the bag were the bottom halves of the onesies I'd used to make nightgowns (and here). It's hard for me to throw anything out that I think could be useful. I took a good look at them to see if there was, in fact, anything for me to do with them before I tossed them. Not enough material for hats...not enough for decent diaper Then, I remembered something:

I got a lovely box of hand-me-downs in the mail on Monday and among them were two pairs of sewn baby booties in knit. I loved the design. They practically open all the way up so you're not having to wiggle a little foot inside and then they tie securely shut.

Ah hah! I would make baby shoes out of the leftover knit! And they would match the nightgowns! (cuteness overload alert) I didn't see a pattern or tutorial online so I decided to try to make a free-hand pattern.

Well, the first one came out...ok. I'm in the middle of making pattern adjustments. I started with my least favorite of the knits so it wouldn't be a catastrophe if it didn't turn out. Here's a photo of the first one (both are done now):

The inside is faced with flannel.

I'll share more photos as I get them made. :)

UPDATE: I made another pair three more pairs (minus the elastic at the back - ran out). These are so easy!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pray for the suffering Christians in the Middle East

This video was created by a friend of mine, Jodie Anna. The music is: Procession (The Trisagion) from the album "Their Souls Shall Dwell With the Blessed: A Service For Those Who Have Fallen Asleep" by the St. Symeon Orthodox Church Trio, "Antiphony" (Information here.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013


We don't have cable so I don't watch this show (or any other), but I saw this linked on Life Site News and decided to watch it. Well, wow.

I want to point out a few things.

I don't know what else was sung/danced to/whatever on the show that evening, but I am willing to put good money on saying that this very short piece blew them all away. First, good singing (rather than the garbage that is tragically prevalent) reaches everyone and, of all things, note the transcendence of the Latin prayer! Even Howard Stern, easily the most profane public persona ever, is completely moved by their rendition of  Webber's Pie Jesu.

Put this next to the infamous guitar masses (yep, my childhood), campfire-sing-a-long type music, "contemporary" worship services, etc., that are supposed to bring in and enthrall "the young people", and you can see where the eye-rolling reactions come from. "Young people" (and those of all other ages) do not like being condescended to with dumbed-down, clown music. We were all created in the image and likeness of God and our souls long for transcendence.

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point.

Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity,
in falling asleep thou didst not forsake the world O Theotokos.
Thou wast translated from life, O Mother of Life,
and by thy prayers thou deliverest our souls from death!