You Can Make it Yourself


Turns out a number of you would like to see how I made those paper flowers on the garland in my last post. I was a little surprised at that, considering the underwhelming photo I used to show what I had done. But they do please me every day, so I am glad I “wasted” my Saturday afternoon. Today, however, I got victory over my bathroom cleaning before I sat down to show you how I did the flowers. You start with a book, obviously. Not too brittle in the pages, but oldish looking is best. Even better would be an old songbook. I tore out seven pages at a time, because I am efficient like that.


This spiral flower is what I started with last week, but it did not pop enough for my garland. The main problem was that my book pages were too small to make an exciting flower. So I set aside the ones I made and used them for the centers of the bigger, better flowers. I just freehanded this circle because templates are boring and too perfect.


Starting at the end, you simply roll up the spiral between thumb and finger until you get to the center. You will want to have the hot glue ready to go, because those curls spin out on you (They are supposed to. Just not all the way back to the flat spiral.) and it helps to be able to squash them down onto the glue once you have the desired size. I rolled and rerolled my first few flowers until I got the hang of this step.


I drew my petals onto the page in graduated sizes because templates are boring. Wait. I already said that. But really, your finished product looks better if you have some variation, unless you want to get out a level and ruler when you are gluing the petals. See my stack of seven pages? Just cut them all at once; save yourself a lot of hassle. And be sure to cut inside the pen lines so you don’t see them on the flower edges.


The petals get a slit about halfway up through. And there sits the pretty little center, waiting. (Have you noticed my kitchen table yet? I keep planning half-heartedly to refinish it, but then I would have to hover when the children do projects, and now it is just so stress free. )


Those two photos show the way you use school glue to overlap the petals slightly where you cut the slit. I do not recommend hot glue at this step because fingertips are important, and hot glue has no respect. If you want your flowers for hanging on a garland or on the wall, do not curve them much at all or they will hang almost upside down. I started with seven petals on the outside row, then six in the others. There are no rules here. Some of our flowers only had four outside petals and a center.


The center does require hot glue to hold that much weight. For a garland, bend a paper clip and glue it to the center of the flower on the back. Use gross-grain (important… because the ribbed weave of gross-grain holds the flowers where you put them) ribbon to hang them by hooking the paper clip over it.


These are other petal shapes we tried. I think the oval is my favorite, but it does make the garland more pleasing to have some variety. Below is another way to finish out the flower in the middle. You roll up the frill, and glue it to the middle, then spread out the frill like stamens. The more we worked at it, the more ideas we got. I did a brief foray on pinterest, then decided to wing it. Olivia, however, saw a tutorial for making hyacinths. She took off on that on her own. You can see her contributions in the last photo.


And that, my friends, is what happens when you use pretty colors and cup the petals so that they sit on a ledge like a… water lily?

Those are our happy chickens, freeranging like anything around the blueberry bushes. You can’t see them, but the children are down on the dock, fishing. Unsuccessfully, I might add. And that is also my garden, just waiting to dry out.

Soon there will be rows of real flowers and butterflies flitting.

(If you try this, let me know. Or I will never do another tutorial. Well, maybe I will. )

March Potpourri

It’s spring now and the sap of life is rising. It gurgles to the surface: life that has been there all along, just frozen. Even though our winter was a joke to people like my husband who wanted Serious Snow, I rejoice and feel myself full of ideas thawing and ready to go!

Rita and I went on a soggy walk one day when she was feeling blue. She is cut out of the same cloth I am and we both cheered up when we found twigs with leaf babies to bring inside.

We had our First Day of Spring Party today. It being Monday, I thought maybe I could wait until tomorrow, but the children were not having it. “We have to have a tea party today! It is important.” So we decorated with a pastel piece of fabric and paper doilies, then set out the China and prettied up the food. Frilly toothpicks stuck through ham and cheese chunks cut out with flower-shaped cookie cutters, a simple chicken broth with alphabet pasta, crackers and party mints in pretty bowls, and we were set. Dessert was vanilla crepes with raspberry sauce. Oh, and tea, of course. Mint tea.

Last weekend I got to attend a conference for mothers where Sally Clarkson was speaking to us from her years of wisdom. It was one long, refreshing drink, one that I needed to give me courage. Here is what it looked like in NC on my way to the conference. I pulled off the road and put on my flipflops.

Sally mentioned that typically women in their twenties have a few babies and spend a lot of time establishing ideals. In the thirties they start to feel the burn and it sinks in that this is for the long haul, no short cuts or selfishness allowed. By their forties most mothers are tired. The crowd of godly mothers thins out a bit as one by one they quit, saying, “Let these children figure out their own way now. I am done with this mothering thing. It’s too hard, all this eye-rolling and investments that aren’t valued anyway.”

I have felt it: I am in the tired spot and needed some pep talking. Sometimes I don’t know how weary I am until I hold still for a while.

Here are a few more Sallyisms that I am phrasing as I remember them. Listening to her gentle humor in person was much better, but I know that some of you read her books and will enjoy this.

You are called to live your own story. Nobody else’s. That is your place to be faithful. It’s like a puzzle, and all you have to do is fit your own pieces into your own puzzle. Nobody else’s. Your puzzle will look different from every other puzzle when it is finished.

If God gives you a vision when you are young and idealistic, don’t just chuck it when it gets hard. Everybody in the world will give you permission to compromise. If He says something is valuable, it is!

Read stories of hope and faith to give you courage. Read them to your children. Fill them with stories of beautiful, true, honorable things. Give them a solid framework in a twisted world.

ABIDE. This is not formula or fear. It is not control. It is just a state of being.

If you make mistakes, repent and get over it. God is a Redeemer. Your difficulties are where your children see a walk with God modeled. The hard things you go through are the platform where you gain influence.

I had registered for this conference 5 months ago, and it was so strengthening. Sally speaks hard truths in the kindest way possible. Not least of the enjoyment was sharing the experience with two of my sisters-in-law. We talked long and late, ate chocolate and drank coffee, found common ground and encouraged each other.

I can unequivocally recommend a few books that Sally has written for moms. If you need to hear from someone who has walked the long road and been tested, but stayed steadfast, listen to her admonitions in print. She will not give you permission to slack and feel sorry for yourself; you will be blessed.

In the spirit of making a lifegiving home, I have been working at my March decluttering. So far I have taken out a bag of mismatched plastic containers and lids that I do not seem to be able to chuck into the trash when the sour cream is empty. I passed on a box of boys’ clothes and a bag of girl clothes. The boys were bribed with a dollar per trash bag filled in their room. It took them 30 minutes to fill 4! (I was so proud of them, but not especially proud of myself.) There were a few children’s coats and snowpants that were ripped beyond repair, with zippers broken, etc. that I burned when they weren’t looking.

One painful day I cleaned out my fabric stash and was quite severe with what I allowed myself to keep. I went through my closet and took out all the stuff that I never wear (too small/makes me look fat/bad color/what was I thinking? 😦 ). I donated the Clarks shoes that pinched my heels to Goodwill, as well as a pile of books that were taking up more space than they were worth. Most recently I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and threw out the chipped and broken things that I had stashed for a Super glue session. Seriously, do I really like this dish that much? No. I do not.

I cleaned out my fridge and fed the pigs. It is oddly satisfying to toss a rotting cucumber to a grateful hog who then turns it into bacon. It makes me feel less wasteful that I forgot the cuke in the salad drawer for too long. The best project in terms of satisfaction was replacing a set of lace curtains that I have had for 15 years! I bought them at the Dollar General soon after we were married and thought they looked all right, but one day I looked at them and said, “So 2000.” I made simple window toppers with a vintage French print and now I can look at them and say, “So ’70’s.” Haha. I need this sort of  illogical hilarity in my life.

I still have the bathroom to sort through and the entire basement, but there is no point in deep cleaning the school room until we finish the term.

Olivia mastered the straight seams on a dress that she has been longing for ever since my mom gave her fabric for her birthday. She made a matching ensemble for her rag doll and learned the fine art of running a seam ripper. No scrapbooking has happened, but I am hopeful. I just need to get in the zone for one more child, then I plan to go digital. All the older children have a lovingly crafted photo book from birth to five years. I never waited until they were 5 to get started, but that is what Addy will get.

Gardening seems a long way off with everything outdoors squishy. I have my seeds, though, just waiting. On Saturday I spent hours making paper flowers for a garland to replace the pine swag I had above the sink instead of cleaning the bathroom. The children gasped when they saw me tearing pages out of an old book, but they soon got into the spirit of the project and helped shape flowers. It is spring, after all!

What have you been doing with yourself?

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