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.

Homeschool recap 2018-2019.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

We've officially finished our first full year of homeschooling, Liam's kindergarten year! I wanted to share a few things I learned, mostly to record it for myself, but also in case someone reading may be interested in exploring homeschool and this could be an encouragement. I was

Here's what we chose for our Kindergarten curriculum: Our Homeschool Adventure
And to see how it was going a few months in: Homeschool/Sonlight So Far
Here's what we did for preschool: Homeschool Preschool

It would take pages to fully capture all that we've learned and how we've grown this year. But here's a start.

+ I learned that homeschool doesn't have to look like school at home. In fact, it shouldn't. I'd heard this premise before, but really had to live it to understand it fully. Initially, my pre-conceived ideas of school (having never been homeschooled myself) bled into the way I planned our homeschool days. For example, as much as I loved setting up our classroom space downstairs, we hardly even used it. It turned out there were better places inside and outside our home to accomplish our homeschool goals, though I did appreciate having an organized space to house our books and supplies. We listened to audiobooks in the car, spent mornings at the museum, enjoyed countless hours on our deck and exploring in the backyard or at the nature preserve. With active bodies and active minds, we rarely sat at desks or even at the table. One of the reasons we chose to homeschool in the first place was so that Liam wouldn't have to sit at a desk for hours a day, so replicating that at home made no sense.

+ I learned that you don't have to check every box. As a (recovering) perfectionist, this was a hard pill to swallow. I was so afraid I'd mess things up that I followed Sonlight's lesson plans to a tee, even when a couple of the assigned books were losing my children's interest. We plowed through them anyway, but looking back, I wish I could have replaced those choices with something that fit the kids' interests more. Using our Sonlight Instructors' Guides as a map rather than a task master was a lesson I learned the hard way. Some days, I needed to remind myself, "This is kindergarten" to ease up a bit on what I felt were requirements. Liam was reading well, doing math, and learning so many life lessons being at home with us each day. If the boxes weren't all checked, it was going to be ok.

+ I learned that you have the freedom to make it your own (and you should!). Next year, we are moving in a different direction, which I will detail in another post. I've learned through the year that our family leans toward more of a Charlotte Mason-style education. So this coming year, I'm excited to incorporate more hymn study, Scripture memory, habit training, and afternoon tea time with poetry. I learned that there's truly no one-size-fits-all homeschool curriculum, and your curriculum choices should reflect the interests of your family. While I believe using an "open and go" boxed curriculum for our first year was a good choice to help us ease into homeschooling, I'm now excited to make next year fit our family's style even more.

+ I learned that homeschool is simply an extension of home life. We are not only learning math, we are learning good habits. We are learning kindness toward one another, how to make our beds, how to cook grilled cheese. We're always learning, always growing, even if we aren't checking boxes on our curriculum guides. Sometimes it's hard to change the mindset that all things should be quantifiable. But I see such growth in all areas and in every person from last year to this year, even though we don't have report cards or test scores to prove it.

+ Finally, I learned that self care = family care. I think the term "self care" gets a bad wrap in the Christian community. But truly, creating a positive home atmosphere begins with me, the mom. So if I am not taking the time to care for my soul by reading my Bible and communing with the Lord... if I'm not caring for my body by exercising and eating well... it all bleeds into my family life quicker than I'd like to admit. So any investment in caring for myself is a direct investment into the lives of those in my home.

Overall, I feel so much gratitude for this year together. I had no idea I'd enjoy it as much as I did, and we all can't wait for next year!

On hospitality.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A few weeks ago, a man was brutally murdered just down the street from our house, his body left near the playground we walk to every day. (I know... most blog posts don't usually start out like this. I should have warned.) We've known for some time that our neighborhood isn't the safest around, but this event made it painfully clear.

Since then, I've been jumpy. It's been my inclination to close doors, to shield our babies from the hate outside these walls. While some measure of caution should obviously be taken, I've acted out of faithless fear.

So reading Rosaria Butterfield's The Gospel Comes with a House Key came at the perfect time. Her writing is convicting, inspiring, and certainly thought-provoking. I lay awake at night wondering how I could serve and love my neighbors instead of hiding from them.

I started very small: from my kitchen window, I saw our neighbors across the street working on their car. English isn't their first language, but the mother certainly speaks "baby" so I brought Beckham over for an impromptu visit. She immediately reached for him, bounced him in her arms, and beamed. Her boys are grown and this was a sacred moment.

Our conversation quickly turned to the murder in the park - it's heavy on all of our minds - and how it affected their perspective of our neighborhood, even after over a decade of living here.

Dr. Butterfield's frequent admonition is this: "Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God." I'm realizing that while I would love to practice nightly table fellowship with neighbors in our home, this season with four little ones makes that highly impractical. We host a weekly community group in our church during the year, and even that feels like a stretch at times.

But as Butterfield writes, "Hospitality shares what there is; that's all. It's not entertainment. It's not supposed to be." Right now, I feel I have very little in the way of margin. Little time, little energy, little money that spills over after our growing family's needs are met. But I can start small. I can take a few steps across the street, share my beautiful baby and a listening ear, and build a bridge.
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