Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nativities Around Our Town

Around here we’re attempting to get past a week of illness in our home. It’s not easing up fast! In the meantime, I thought I’d post about a few things I’ve missed. I realize the blog has been dormant for too long!

This year I made sure to take pictures of the nativity scenes in our town, Bombarral. I have wanted to do this for years, so  here are the four we found outside our home. Here in Portugal, nativity scenes are called Presipios.


On the way out of town is a gigantic Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus. I tried to give some perspective by getting the windows and doors of the quinta in the background. It is awesome to see at night lighted up!


A little further out of Bombarral close to Carvalhal, there is a nativity set up at an old church.


Back in town there is a neat silhouette nativity set up at a concrete beam making plant that can be seen from the highway. So nice!


And up by the church in Bombarral, a life size version complete with date palms this year {and our two cuties}!

I did not get any good photos of the working nativity scene at the Colombo mall in Lisbon. If you’re in town it’s not to be missed. There’s way more than just the manger scene. It’s a whole village of moving figures doing their work. And the cow at the manger is chewing hay and things like that!


One of the presipios in our home is made up of vintage pieces I’ve found at the flea market, some dressed in traditional regional Portuguese garb. I love how the Portuguese add all kinds of people to come worship baby Jesus!

Happy New Years to you!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zippered Pillows for the Novice

I sewed four pillow covers yesterday. Quite a feat considering I haven’t delved into much craftiness in months! {More finished product photos at the end if you want to skip the nitty gritty.}


The day before I didn’t have the zippers yet so I cut the fabric for each one. It was actually nice to start the next day with all my materials and everything cut {kind of like a cooking show with each ingredient premeasured in a little bowl!}.

I found a great tutorial which made things SO MUCH EASIER! Check out the most simple pillow cover with a zipper tutorial at Scout and Nimble first. Her instructions and photos are very easy to follow.

So why the post? I sew so {ha!} infrequently that I usually feel like a big novice every time! I thought I’d share some things I learned along the way for any other novices out there. Please, save time from my many mistakes! It was almost laughable today, like when I sewed up the end of the fabric in the zipper seam because I wasn’t careful! If you are a regular seamstress, this post is not for you!


For starters, don’t think you should do a long stitch on that first seam before attaching the zipper thinking it will be easier to rip out. It needs to be a smaller stitch so it won’t pull out when you put a pillow through the hole. The seam ripper will have no trouble cutting through even a smaller stitch.IMG_5623

One problem I encountered was not having zippers the same length as my pillow cover as Jesse did in her instructions. By the time I got to the third and fourth pillow, I started figuring out what I needed to do.


I learned I didn’t need to make the zipper foot on the machine go around the zipper pull, but just stop close to it and come back to that part after I unzipped it a bit. It is loose above, but after ripping the seam open, you can grab the pull and open the zipper some. Then you can sew around the end. MUCH easier and neater!


You can see in the photo above the green lines I sewed after the back stitching {after I had unzipped the zipper some}.


I also thought I’d try sewing the zipper to the seam edges only and not through both pieces of fabric to not have the sewing lines seen on the outside of the pillow. It is doable, but in the end I wonder how this pillow {below} will look in the long run. The crease from ironing is the only thing keeping the zipper somewhat hidden. Sticking to the instructions and using the right color thread is the answer I think!


The floral pillow ended up in our bedroom for now. It’s destination to the patio was routed by a travel pillow on sale at AREA {a fabulous store in Portugal}. That fabric wasn’t made for the outside anyway.


Outdoor pillows are not that easy to find here in Portugal, if it is possible at all. For all my friends living here, I found outdoor fabric on fabric store row in Campo Ourique in Lisbon, but they only have stripes and solids. It wasn’t expensive at all when you don’t need a whole meter.


Three pillows made with outdoor fabric, one cheap IKEA solid I had, and my new travel pillow. It might need a mate! Hopefully we can finish up our back patio projects soon so I can post all of it then.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Rainbow’s End


Last year I started this small project after seeing a digital version I liked. It took a sick day in January to complete it! So glad now.


It was fun to add a bit of Spring and Truth in our entryway.


I made a couple trips to our local retrosaria between last year and this to get a needed button or two to fill in the rainbow well. If you’d like to make something similar, I’d recommend starting with a larger piece of cloth than I did. It got a little tricky trying to keep my piece between the embroidery hoop with all the buttons not wanting to bend on the hoop’s edges.


The cursive writing was just freehand and the clover is four small hearts ends together. I pulled the fabric around a frame back {with stand} and glued it. I had planned on framing it, but the frame did not have enough space for the back now-covered-in-fabric to fit in its grooves.


Thankfully it stands well on its own! Happy Spring and St. Patrick’s Day to you a little early!


linking up to Tatertots and Jello and


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Grid for How to Think

Lately, I’ve seemed to be tempted to walk in unbelief or hopelessness about a situation. Thankfully I am reading a great book called Living From the Unseen by Wendy Backlund that challenges my wrong thinking. In Chapter Five, she speaks about “thinking on purpose…whatever is of good report.”

This really hit home with me that there are so many things that God has faithfully done for us, things we never would have imagined, that why do I doubt now? So, I had this idea to make a grid of all the things we should think about from Philippians 4:8 that I could fill in and post somewhere for me to remember!

think grid

It is nothing fancy at all but I thought it might be helpful to someone else too. You can download or print the grid by clicking the link below. It will open in Google docs where there is an arrow to download or a printer icon to print.

Think on These Things Grid

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Planters

I’ve had several plants sitting in my kitchen waiting for a permanent home. Three tiny succulents were in my window sill, and it occurred to me they might fit in the old polka-dot bowl I had sitting next to them.


Wa-lah! Then began the hunt to find more of these “new” planters. Even though I’d prefer to de-stash, the best bets for these other plants were found at our local flea market. A teapot for my rex begonia…


The poinsettia from Christmas has been given a chance at longer life too. We’ll see how she fares outside of her Christmas florist donned wrapping.


I’m hoping the plants will thrive despite the fact I didn’t drill holes in the bottom of these pottery pieces. Just being careful to not overwater. I have used rocks or other objects in the lower sections of vases and pottery in the past to give water a place to go in a way, just not this time. These containers were on the smaller side.


In the mean time I’m encouraged by prettier plant life in the kitchen in the middle of winter!

Friday, January 18, 2013

First Silhouette Heat Transfer


One of my daughters picked out a cute top to go with some corduroys for Christmas. It was attached to a plain turtleneck—a two-for-one deal. My other daughter decided she’d like a new printed turtle neck too. I had some inspiration pinned from Hanna Anderson to get this project going.

T-Shirt Idea to try (T from Hanna Anderson)

I got the “cat silhouette” and the “flower tree” from the Silhouette online store.

cat and flower

I curved the flat end of the flower tree graphic a little so it appeared more like a branch than an upside down tree.

I followed the directions for using the flocked heat transfer material that came in the Silhouette Heat Transfer Starter Kit {thanks Mom!}. I did have to leave the iron on the material longer than it said for a couple of the spots that wanted to come up when I peeled up the transfer sheet.


The white flocked material picks up every bit of lint so it’s not so clean and white anymore {and it did make it through a normal wash!}. Yet this shirt is still a hit with my 6 year old!

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Life for a Tray


One of the few projects I completed for the holidays this year was an old tray that had not been used in years after getting broken. {Yet I knew it still had potential—my weakness!} Yay for one more thing out of the stash!


My husband came to the rescue with some kind of glue to keep the crack from getting worse. I decided to decoupage the bottom with scrapbook paper so it would not be seen. I chose papers that would work with Christmas but could be used anytime with the colors in our living room.


Here I’ve glued the five pieces on with Mod Podge. Then I put three coats on the top allowing each to dry before adding another. I had searched the internet to see if decoupage glue would alter the glittered paper and couldn’t find an answer. I tested a small piece and saw it dulled the color of the glitter a bit but was not significant enough for me to not seal the tray, especially when someone might set a drink on it at our coffee table.


The crack left some small indentations in the paper but I don’t think it’s too noticeable. If you try this like me on a shiny surface, take care to not get the Mod Podge on the uncovered surfaces. You can see it leaves a dull film that needs to be removed.


We’ll see how many more seasons we can get out of this tray now. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Sounds of Pruning


All the leaves are off the pear trees now. Instead, green emerges between the rows of trees after the November rains.


Four times now in the last month I’ve heard the farmers out pruning the orchards. It’s amazing how rhythmic it sounds. Turn up your volume to hear the clipping along with some birds chirping, a rooster crowing, and some girlies giggling (while Mommy films!). You can see the back of our neighborhood and house in the background.

I am most familiar with pruning from John 15:2, but it is neat to see it happening literally:

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.


I smile to think that He finds it as lovely to hear the pruning in our lives as I hear outside my door.


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