Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Moving Day! {Note My New Blog Address}

BLOSSOMING JOY IS MOVING TO A NEW ADDRESS!

After more than half a decade, I'm finally saying goodbye to Blogger. Please add my new address to your feed! See you there! :)



Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Life Changes

Just the skinny on where life has been taking me lately. Written in a state of exhaustion so I won't know if it's coherent until tomorrow...

1. Moving
After 7 years with Blogger, I'm moving to a new blog home over at Squarespace. I honestly love Blogger. Free. Intuitive. I've never had any serious glitches and I am established and comfortable here. But there are things that I want to do long term that Blogger makes challenging... So I'm busy prepping my new digs. There have been a couple small issues with the move but since I have modest furniture here, nothing that can't be overcome. On the whole, I'm enjoying working in my new place and I'll have a house warming party there within the next few weeks, complete with a big giveaway.

But in the meantime, I don't want to lose touch with any of you. If you feel the same, then please enter your email in the announcement bar at the top of this page or below this paragraph. I won't spam you or share your info. It will just allow me to keep in touch with you from time to time and let you know when changes are afoot. :)





2. Doula
I have been immersed for the last half a year in everything having to do with birth support and pregnancy loss. My goal has been to become certified as a birth and bereavement doula and I finally received my certification yesterday! I have never enjoyed studying as much as I have recently. I simply never got tired of it. Such an unusual feeling to be rushing through my chores so that I could hurry up and get back to studying!

My experience validated our decision to continue with interest-led learning in our homeschool. Along those lines, we are building a doula track into my daughter's high school curriculum. So in addition to fulfilling a dream of mine, I will also be able to mentor her as she fulfills hers.

If you know anyone who would love to support such a dream, please send them HERE. She not only needs monetary donations but also materials that she can use to support women and babies in crisis.

I will be starting my next certification after I take a little breather and throw my blog party. With doula stuff on the brain, I really feel the need to pamper some lovely lady out there.

3. College
I thought we had more time and maybe we do... but my oldest has asked permission to apply a year early for college and we've given the green light. And if he can score himself a substantial enough scholarship, he can go. So if you could all pray for this intention, I'd be so grateful. There are some days when I am overwhelmed by the thought of that "lost" year and others when I'm ready to drive him there myself! My overriding prayer is simply that God's will be done. I certainly wouldn't complain about having him home another year but if it's his time to fly... well, let him fly.

4. Scarlet Fever
Gotta love new and exciting infections. We've never met this one before. It's astonishing how a bit of bacteria can wreak havoc on a household. Trying to keep Peaches out of the ER. I am tired.

Oh Summer... I miss you already.

5. Organization
I have read just about every organizational book in existence and I now mostly ignore them. Certain systems are lovely and make sense within the home but they all boil down to one thing: The WILL to do hard work and the proper tools with which to give that will power a fighting chance. I get that. So I don't often read about it anymore. I just run randomly around the house hoping to complete a task or two in between the distractions and needs of beautiful children. After cramming myself with almost 20-years of how-to's, I admit defeat...

I don't have enough time, money, or skill to manage all of it well. But there's always a tiny ray of hope. I am currently working my way through an e-course course called Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done and yes, I am loving it. Sarah Mackenzie recommended it and Mystie Winckler designed it and that's really all I need to know about that.

The real treasure of the course (and I have not completed it yet) is learning how to renew our sense of joy in the home. As I'm going through the course, I realize how much sullenness and resentfulness had crept into my daily "grind" and that how I speak to myself about what I do can make a tremendous difference.

Simplified Organization: Learning to Love What Must Be Done


6. Birthday
With another one recently past, I'm inching closer and closer to 40 and I feel pretty okay about that. I just keep thinking that the sooner I age, the sooner I'll be able to rest without feeling guilty. ;)

7. Christmas Shopping
I have begun. The spread sheet is started. I just can't handle another frantic rush to the finish line like we attempted last year. Our gift-giving season technically begins right now within our immediate and extended families. We have several birthdays a month to celebrate leading up to Christmas. My party is supposed to be tomorrow... but instead... scarlet fever. No big deal. More time to do some online deal finding. My favorite place to start? Ebates. I go there before I do any online shopping and almost always get some money back after my orders. Super simple. Happy shopping!

UPDATE: A little blogger irony... I wrote above about how few glitches I've had with blogger and here it is messing with my formatting! Ah well. I'm leaving it. No time to fight with blogger today.

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How to Make a Priest Biretta for All Saints' Day


After writing about my kids' All Saints' costumes last year, I received multiple requests for a pattern for the boys' birettas. So here you go!

The source pattern is for a real biretta so I have to warn you that I used extensive creative license with the it and produced great costume pieces -- not real birettas. 



Our All Saints' costumes from last year were a great success, mostly because the teenagers gave full participation. And wouldn't you if your mom stayed up until the wee hours crafting an awesome biretta for your priestly garb? Of course you would. And now you want to know how to share this excellence with your kids... so I will give you the link to the instructions and a few words about my crafting adventure.

First, the link to the PDF pattern: How to Make a Collapsible Biretta

Now, a few words:

I did not make collapsible birettas. My birettas only collapse if you sit on them. I used the pattern provided, fused fabric to the pattern pieces, and glued the pieces until I was reasonably sure they would not collapse under normal stresses. It was a hack job but perfect for costume purposes.

All materials for this project were things I already had on hand:

Poster board
Heat n Bond to fuse the fabric to the poster board.
* Black fabric. I used a wool/cashmere blend fabric because it was the only black fabric I had on hand. (My sons had the warmest birettas ever made.) This would have been easier with a lighter fabric but the heavy stuff did lend the finished product a bit of weight and it stuck to their hair well.
* Satin fabric. Because I tend towards crafty perfectionism even at 3am. And because glue guns are awesome. And because I had scraps of satin fabric... I lined the inside of the hats. I wanted red but gold was a fine alternative. 
* Red Piping Bias Tape on Professor's Fulton Sheen biretta. (I left a gap at the top of the poster board when I glued it so that I could hot glue the piping in later.)
* Red Yarn for the pom pom and a plastic pom pom maker. But you can use these instructions if you don't have one.

And yes, Professor's biretta IS only supposed to have only 3 of those sticking up things. It means something. Professor knows all about it and was dismayed that Cub's St. John Neumann biretta had four. I gave his concerned face a blank mom stare and handed the four-pronged hat to his brother. It's fine, son. I made it. Wear it.

(This is the 2-year old's biretta. Because I didn't have enough piping bias, I used hot glue to strengthen the attaching pieces. And because the hot glue was ugly, I decided to paint it with a black paint pen. And because the black paint pen was "glossy" the seams are shiny. I wasn't thrilled. You can also see here how the lining is far from perfect -- just folded and glued in place -- but also how a kid would think it is cooler than plain black.)

Measuring...
The other thing I want to tell you is that I found the measurements tricky. I was not particularly careful and was rushing.  I measured once (hastily) for the Professor (15 years old at the time) and ended up with a hat that fit a two-year old. Fortunately, I had a two-year old on hand, but you should probably take more time to measure than I did. And then... I made the second one too small as well but it was much closer and wearable. I'm not making a third one, son.

The rest of the costume:

Altar server cassock that fits (like Professor's) or even one that is several sizes too large held together with thread and safety pins (like Cub's). Or... DIY if you are totally awesome.

Red or black sash. Lend your kid one of your inexpensive pashmina scarfs that he can poke a hole through with a dull safety pin. Let it go. It's for a good cause.

Roman Collar. You could probably come up with something better but I picked out two lengths of wide white satin ribbon (wide enough to cover the notch and extend a bit above the collar), measured necks, and stiffened it with Heat n Bond. Then I used sticky Velcro dots to hold  the collar together and in place on the cassock. The other option was to sew something in but I didn't want to alter the cassocks too much.

Are you going to try your hand at making a biretta for All Saints's Day? 
Please link your pics back here in the comments (or email them to me) if you do. I would love to see your creations and I'll add your link to the post.

*****
P.S. I'm going to be moving Blossoming Joy to a new home soon. Make sure to sign up at the very top of this blog to make sure we don't lose each other in the process!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beautiful Hair {Lilla Rose Giveaway}

We have a lot of hair in this house. And between four females, we have many pretty hair things. And we do have our favorites. I'm going to show you one of our faves today and then give you the chance to win some beautiful hair jewelry of your own. 

I first heard about Lilla Rose hair accessories through Mandi Richards, who is an independent Lilla Rose consultant, and who is sponsoring this giveaway. Since then, we have purchased our fair share of pretties. Our hands down favorite is the Lilla Rose hair band

Jewelry for your hair that actually stays put... even in straight silky hair. Pretty. And comfortable and adjustable for every size head in your family. To prove it to you, I took 142 pictures of one-year old Peaces wearing my adjustable headband (never fear, I'm only sharing 6). And one of me.




Such a little princess. I used to turn up my nose at people calling their daughters princess too often... seemed like a good way to spoil a kid. Until I had my own daughters and then... PRINCESSES! All of them. 

The headband she's wearing features silver rose beads alternating with clear crystal beads. My camera doesn't quite capture the pretty sparkle seen by the eye. And anyway, how can anything compete with those baby blues?





And here is a pic of me from last Winter wearing the exact same headband as Peaches. I have a much larger head than she but it adjusts quickly for pretty  much any size. I do have the straightest, most slippery hair and all things will slide after a while. But between the soft adjustable strap and the pretty beads, I find that I rarely have to adjust these bands. 


We also own other Lilla Rose products including several Flexi-clips which are incredibly pretty and functional (see the gorgeous blue cameo flexi below). They work much better than traditional clips in our straight hair. Even the little silky headed girls have tiny flexi clips for half up- half downs and for holding braids in place. I have even stuck them in the middle of their french braids just to add a little bling.

To see all of the beautiful items available, visit Mandi's page at Lilla Rose. You can also view videos for flexi-clip instructions and sizing here. And follow Mandi on Instagram for more lovely ideas.

Now for the giveaway...

Entries are now closed. The winner is: SUZANNE!

One reader is going to win one free Lilla Rose item of your choice valued up to $16.
I'm going to make this simple because, although Rafflecopter is easier for the blogger, I dislike using it as a reader of blogs. So I'm going old-fashioned here...

**********************************
THE RULES
Three possible entries but only one is mandatory. 
*I'm going to make this as easy as possible... 
you can combine your entries in one comment or separate them. All are valid. I'll sort it out.*

1) Visit Mandi's website and leave a comment here about your favorite item. (MANDATORY)
2) Like Mandi's Facebook page and tell me in a comment. (Optional)
3) Like Blossoming Joy's Facebook page and tell me in a comment. (Optional)

*The entries will be numbered and the winner chosen using random.org.
*The drawing will be held on Monday, September 15th, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
*I will notify the winner via email... so please  make sure I have a way to contact you!
*If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, I'll draw a new name.
*U.S. residents only.

God bless you!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Beautiful Life? It Depends on the Angle.


The kids and I were looking over my recent blog post about our Lord of the Rings birthday bash...

The girl said my post seemed dishonest. Our house doesn't really look like that. That picture you posted doesn't look like our house. It looks like the pretty houses that other people have. 

I looked and saw what she saw. It was the angle maybe. The way the boy stood next to the banister and the window. It looked pretty. Not exactly the way we are used to thinking about our dusty, in-progress domicile over the years. But I also saw the truth behind picture differently than she did. It was not photoshopped or altered. It was definitely our home. A slice of our life. An angle of beauty.

Sweetheart... We have a lovely home. It's not always clean. It's not always carpeted or repaired or decorated. But it is a great blessing. What you see in that photo isn't a lie -- it is a snapshot of that blessing. You haven't seen it that way before. But maybe you just haven't looked.




There are number of reasons I continue blogging (a slight addiction among them). One of those reasons is that I repeatedly discover joy here as I put the microscope to our life and blessings. Even my sorrows tend to take on a rosy hue as I inspect them in light of God's great grace and mercy. Is it wrong to soften the rough edges? No. I don't think it is. In fact, it may be a big step closer to the truth.

Blogging our finest moments with our prettiest photos isn't a lie. It is focusing on sometimes obscured treasure. Like Pollyanna prisms. For example...

When my husband surveys our weedy lawn before mowing, he grimaces at the dandelions that multiply so rapidly. When my toddler sees those dandelions, she inspects closely and is fascinated at the marvelous details. She touches one of the thin bright petals and plucks it. Then she smells it. And tastes it. The second one she picks becomes a gift for me. She is delighted to share this pretty yellow treasure with someone she loves.

We miss beauty because we think like jaded adults. We fancy that we are supposed to focus on the broader picture and stand strong with our suffering love. We feel grown up when we furrow our brow and think it wise to make sure the kids know all about the trials and tribulations of life. But our narrow focus may just be keeping us from a whole world of wonder and joy.

The crosses come for everybody. But that is no reason to tone down Easter.

When I first started this blog, I had a different name for it. I changed it to Blossoming Joy when I began to see how God was drawing me into His mystery of joy through these pages. I know that my house is not in danger of being featured in a magazine anytime soon. But it is a house of blessing. And I share what I treasure. And conversely, I learn to treasure what I share.

Thanks be to God.

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