DIY: Stained glass.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Today I'm sharing a simple DIY project that my kids had so much fun with. This would make a perfect homeschool mini unit study on the history of stained glass or a lesson for a co-op! 
During the Gothic period and the Renaissance (1100s - 1500s), stained glass was one of the foremost painting techniques practiced in Europe. The process of coloring glass was probably invented in ancient Egypt, but it was during the Middle Ages that stained glass windows developed as a major art form. Stained glass windows were an important feature of Gothic-style churches, which first arose in the mid-1100's. The windows filled the interiors of the churches with light and color. They also served an educational purpose. During the Middle Ages, the church was the center of learning. There were few books, and only a few people could read. The designs in the first stained glass windows usually depicted stories or scenes from the Bible. Such scenes were important tools in teaching Christian beliefs to people who visited the churches.

The term "stained glass" derives from the silver stain that was often applied to the side of the window that would face the outside of the building. When the glass was fired, the silver stain turned a yellow color. Artisans of the Middle Ages perfected techniques for making stained-glass windows, many of which are still used today. On a large board, the artisan drew a picture the same size at the window. He numbered each section of the picture according to color. Over the drawing he placed pieces of glass that had already been colored while the glass was being made. Then, following the outline of the drawing, he cut out the shapes with a hot iron. Finally, the artisan cut strips of lead to fit between the pieces of glass. The lead did more than hold the pieces together; it became part of the design. Large windows were given a framework of iron bars for added strength.  

New methods have since changed the appearance of stained glass. But one thing has never changed: the magic effect of sunlight pouring through colored glass. 

Plastic box frame or frame glass (for older kids)
Glass paints (I found these at Hobby Lobby)
Small paint brush
Stained glass window template (find some here to print)

1. Place template behind glass or plastic frame and tape into place. 
2. Using puffy paint, trace the lines of the template onto the glass (may need mom or dad's help with this part). Hold the tip to the surface of the glass and squeeze gently.
3. Allow to dry completely, at least 3 hours lying flat.
4. Once dry, use a small brush and glass paints to fill in your design. Let dry overnight.
5. Enjoy your beautiful stained glass design near a window to allow the light to shine through the brilliant colors.

Richard Allan Tunney, my grandpa.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

My sweet Grandpa Tunney passed away in August, and our family traveled to Ohio for his funeral. I loved this man deeply and missed him for the past several years as Alzheimer's took his mind away from us while his body lingered. I wanted to share what I said at his funeral as I hope it truly honors the man he was. I cannot wait to see him whole in eternity!
He stood only 5 feet 7 inches, but Richard Allan Tunney - my Grandpa - was a giant of a man. Loyal, steadfast, hardworking. He was an honorable man, and I am grateful for the opportunity to honor him today.

Grandpa leaves quite a legacy, and I know he would love to see these first few rows this morning: his bride of 68 years, 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and (so far) 9 great-grandchildren.
I have sweet early memories of him: the smell of his workshop, the way he smiled with his eyes, his strong arms as he pushed one of his four granddaughters on the swing in the backyard. I remember many Sundays spent on one of those back pews, wondering how in the world every single person at Bethel knew Grandpa by name. Even though we grew up about 5.5 hours away, Grandma and Grandpa never missed a major moment. They'd drive to Nashville to watch our cross country meets or to take pictures before prom or graduations. And I'll never forget them dancing at my wedding. Grandpa also had a bit of a mischievous streak that I especially admired. One time, in my early teens, I convinced him to hang a full-sized hammock from the walls of my bedroom when my parents just happened to be out of town. We both clearly knew they'd said "no" to the idea, but he helped me do it anyway, and I loved him all the more for it.

Grandma - I want to talk to you for a minute. Your courageous, sacrificial love for Grandpa, especially over this past decade, has astounded me. You have worked so hard but I know you'd do it all again if given the chance. You never stopped, you never gave up. I know he would be so thankful for your incredible care. I'm confident he's the only Alzheimer's patient in all of Ohio who had his hair blow dried every single day. I know your love wasn't perfect, but it sure was strong.

A little while ago, you told me over the phone that it had been a particularly rough day. I listened as you recounted Grandpa's unsurprising stubbornness when it came to just about every part of his daily tasks. 

But then you paused. And I'll never forget what you said: "I still remember him walking up the drive to pick me up for our first date. I was 16. It's still him. I love him, and I'll love him 'til the day I die." 

I work part-time as a nurse, and each time I'm headed to work at the hospital, I call Grandma. It's a chance to catch up for 10 or 15 minutes, and one of the first things I always ask is, "How is Grandpa today?"

Now that Grandpa is in Heaven, you better believe I'll still call. But I won't have to ask that question because I already know the answer. So I want to ask that question - and answer it - one final time.

How is Grandpa today?

Grandpa is having his best day ever and this is only the beginning. Grandpa is whole. His mind is sharp and clear, his joy complete as he's in the presence of his Savior, Jesus. He's free from the broken body he struggled inside for the last several years of his life. Grandpa knows peace like none of us in this room have yet experienced. We don't have to pray for him anymore because we know where he is. We know Whose he is. We may say "we've lost him," but Grandpa is not lost to God. And in just a little while, we who place our hope in the resurrected Christ will join him in a glorious future we can hardly fathom. Amen!

Our fam.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I'm so, so thankful to have new family pictures (said all the moms in the room!). Shannon Mills Photography did an incredible job with a short window of time and impending rain - and a few wiggle worms - and I love that she captured our family at this crazy wonderful season. 


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Back in June, our new family of 6 made the trip to Tennessee. We celebrated a dear friend's wedding reception and my dad's birthday, and got to show off Beckham to dozens of friends and family. Besides much of our family being in middle Tennessee, the golden light, the lush landscape, the open fields... there's no place quite like it. Tennessee hasn't been our home for 6 years now (hard to believe!), but it will always be a place of rest and respite for us.

DIY: Viking Runic Stones.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Today I'm sharing a fun Viking-themed DIY project that's rooted in history. This could be used in a homeschool co-op setting or even as a mini unit study on Vikings. 

The Vikings, who came from what is now northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), used letters called runes and carved their writing and designs into stones or wood. The first runic carvings date back to 200 AD and runes were used to write up until the Middle Ages. 

The Viking alphabet, called the Futhark, is composed of 24 sound syllables or runes. Each rune is composed of combinations of mostly straight lines that made them relatively easy to carve. Bills, stories, and even love messages were written in runes on sticks. Vikings also celebrated men who died heroically in battle with memorial stones. These stones were carved with pictures and runes and were placed in public places for people to admire. 

Today, you will be using "Elder Futhark," the oldest version of the Runic alphabet, to compose a Viking message on a clay stone. 

Toothpicks for carving
Aluminum foil
(Optional) 1 tsp. white flour

1. Roll your piece of clay into a smooth ball in your hands, then flatten the ball to form a flat oval-shaped stone. (Variation: Divide your piece of clay into four equal sections, then roll each one into a ball and flatten it into a stone.)
2. Using your toothpick and the Futhark alphabet as your guide, carve a message or story into your stones. Perhaps you can carve your name? Or maybe you could compose a simple story using the words listed under the alphabet? The possibilities are endless! 
3. With a parent's help, place stone(s) onto an aluminum foil sheet and bake in the oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes (or according to package instructions). 
4. Let cool completely. 
5. (Optional) Once cool, add one teaspoon of white flour and rub into the crevices to create a more realistic stone.
6. Once finished, use your runic carving to display your Viking name or tell a Viking tale!

Our 1st grade curriculum choices (and... who is Charlotte Mason?).

Monday, July 22, 2019

When I first considered homeschooling our kids, I had no clue how many methodologies and curricula there were to choose from. So the summer before starting kindergarten with Liam, I did a little research but mostly relied on the recommendations of several moms I trusted and went with Sonlight. I loved that it all came in one box: instructor's guide plus all the books and materials you'd need for the entire year.

You can read more about our experience with Sonlight here.

For new homeschool families, I still highly recommend the "open and go" approach. It certainly helped me get my feet on the ground, and as a new mom to 3 kids, it's what I needed. I didn't have the time, energy, or knowledge to spend hours planning.

Fast forward several months. As we wrapped up our first official homeschool year, I have realized that my personal bent is definitely toward the Charlotte Mason philosophy. If you're wondering who Charlotte Mason is, here's a very basic overview:

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800s/early 1900s who was well ahead of her time. She encouraged lots of outdoor time, immersing children in nature and handling and observing natural objects. Instead of formal science lessons in these younger years, she used nature observation as the primary means of early science teaching. She espoused the use of manipulatives and real-life application to understand math rather than rote memorization. She believed that children are "born persons" and therefore worthy of respect, rather than "blank slates." She taught that it's better to feed a child's growing mind with living literature than with dry facts from a textbook that have been pre-digested by the teacher. She wanted even young children to be exposed to great and noble ideas that arouse their curiosity through reflecting on great art, music, and poetry. Her idea is that schooling should be teacher-directed, not child-led, but school time should have short enough lessons that students have the free time to play and pursue their own interests. She was also a Christian and her ideas are Biblically rooted.

After learning more about Charlotte Mason, I felt so drawn to her methodology. Still, I felt torn because I really do love Sonlight - especially their emphasis on missions and how easy it was to just "open and go." I already had the books and Instructor's Guides for the next 2 years of Sonlight, so I decided to try to adapt what I had to fit a Charlotte Mason style. I could add on a Morning Time routine with hymn study, composer study, and picture study in a loop. I could have Liam narrate books back to me. We could add in dictation, nature study, and tea time. But the thought of that overwhelmed me. I've only been formally homeschooling for one year and didn't feel I had the expertise to write my own lesson plans from scratch, especially using a philosophy about which I have so much more to learn.

Enter A Gentle Feast. It's a new curriculum deeply rooted in the tried and true principles of Charlotte Mason. It's structured, but still allows flexibility if you want to switch out books here and there. It's affordable, even giving tips on where to find some of the books for free online. Amazingly, I had several of the books already and was able to find others at thrift stores for $1 or less.

The name "A Gentle Feast" alludes to the feast of ideas that we are to spread before our children. Morning time, the "appetizer," begins each day. Language Arts is the Soup and Salad. The Academic Block (which includes natural history, geography, history, math, foreign language, and singing) is the main course. And dessert includes handicrafts, poetry tea time, drawing, read aloud, and nature study.

A Gentle Feast is about as "open and go" as it gets with Charlotte Mason. Julie Ross, the creator of this curriculum, has chosen rich, living books and created a complete curriculum, minus math. We'll be doing Right Start Math level B this year with Liam. I've felt so excited as I've flipped through the curriculum and started planning. We'll begin each day with Scripture as a family. We'll study hymns. We'll study composers (right up Liam's alley!) and great artists. We'll recite poetry, learn about the natural world around us, and read picture books to understand American history.

One thing I did when I was first researching A Gentle Feast was download their booklist. It's $5 and it gave me a glimpse at what types of books would be assigned in the curriculum. As soon as I did, I was sold. There are lots of classics and some I'd never heard of, but it feels cohesive and beautifully curated.

The bottom line is this: I'm more excited than ever to teach this year because of this curriculum. It seems to fit our family's desires and natural bent, and it's much more gentle for this season of our lives. We'll be doing Cycle 1, Form 1. 

I am proud to be an Influencer with A Gentle Feast, which means if you choose to click through this link and purchase the curriculum for yourself, I'll receive a small percentage of that purchase. But mostly, I'm interested that you choose a curriculum that fits your family and your spiritual convictions. This is just one curriculum option of so many you have to choose from, and if you've already found one that you love, go for it!! 

For the next year, I'll pop in from time to time to update on how it's going, highlight favorite books and activities, and give my honest review. In the next few weeks, I'll show how we're organizing our days. Thanks for reading!

DIY: Sydney clutch free sewing pattern.

Monday, July 15, 2019

For our next free sewing pattern installment, I'm sharing my personal favorite: the Sydney clutch. When I was sewing bags for a living and selling them on Etsy, this was my most popular design. It's simple enough for a beginner, even with a zipper involved! I take you through step by step with very clear instructions.

Download the free PDF sewing pattern here: 

July 4th wedding.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

I had the privilege to photograph another wedding in downtown Raleigh, at the same location where I shot a wedding a few months ago. Hayleigh and Ben had such a fun, relaxed wedding. There was nothing forced or stiff about their day, and I think that came through so beautifully in the photos. They were fully present, just drinking in the goodness of their family and friends that surrounded them. And how fun is it to get married on July 4?! They'll get to celebrate with fireworks every single year! Here are just a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Instant Pot: saving summer cooking!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cookie and Kate's incredibly delicious veggie sushi bowl recipe, with brown rice made in the Instant Pot
I might be a little late to hop on this train, but I am enamored with our new Instant Pot. I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I didn't have room for another kitchen gadget, and the claims my friends made about theirs felt slightly exaggerated. Hard boiled eggs in 6 minutes? Perfectly cooked chicken breasts (from frozen)? Even making cheesecakes?!

We got our Instant Pot from Kohl's during an online sale and it's been worth every penny. I have to say it has exceeded my expectations... so much so that I recently gave away our slow cooker because it's no longer needed.

DIY: Emma foldover clutch sewing pattern.

Friday, July 5, 2019

For our second installment of sewing patterns I'm sharing, today we'll sew the Emma clutch. This simple foldover clutch with a magnetic snap is classy and clean, perfect for every day use. It measures 10" wide (at the widest point) and stands approximately 6" high.

This tutorial is created with the beginner in mind. Someone who has completed a few simple projects will be able to complete this bag. And YES! You can sell the finished product! Please offer me design credit in any written description by linking back to my blog.

The downloadable pattern comes with printable pattern pieces. You can download the FREE pattern here:

DIY: Pleated flower sewing tutorial.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Does anyone remember when I made a living sewing bags for bridesmaids? It feels like a million years ago, but I loved it!

Now that I'm in a very different season with 4 small children, homeschooling, and keeping up my nursing license... I've decided to "retire" my patterns and share them for FREE with you! Over the next several days, I'll be sharing all of the patterns that were formerly listed in my Etsy shop. Please feel free to download, share with friends, or pin them for later. And if you make something from one of these patterns, I'd love to see!

First up: this pleated flower sewing tutorial. This makes a beautiful addition to any bag, or could even be attached to a headband or brooch.

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