A Sewing Project

Sometimes the weather just gets too warm to hold wool, and I stray from knitting. My mother-in-law reintroduced me to my sewing machine when we made curtains for my first home over a decade ago. Sometimes I feel more confident than other times and I decide I can sew my own clothing. (It will fit better! I can buy the patterns/ fabric that inspire me! It will save money!) I’m sure all these things may be true for someone with more skill than I, but sewing straight lines well does not make for a custom garment education.

This brings me to the part of the story where my overconfident self lands in the craft section of my library. I spy The Magic Pattern Book: Sew 6 Patterns in 36 Different Styles.

I decided on the Alice top with some black linen that I had from another one of those fleeting feelings. (You don’t need a pattern! You are creative!) Last time, after a Project Runway marathon, I came to my senses before I found the scissors. You download the pattern, print, and follow the 10 or so steps to a drapey sharkbite-hem tunic. I have to say- The book is well written, with easy to follow directions especially on cutting the fabric, and gives inspiration on how to customize and make it your own. There are only a few leaps in the instructions, less than many of the “beginner” patterns I have tried before. If you were the type to endeavor to make your own wardrobe, I would recommend this book. Because many times these adventures are fleeting for me, I am happy this resource is something I can loan at the library.magic pattern tunic

I like the end result. (Only moderately too big with minimal errors.) This feeling has finally passed and I have a decent top to show for it. Now, maybe some quilts? Here’s my inspiration:birdy inspiration


Back to School Essential Oils

School routines have begun around here, and essential oils are as essential to our day as healthy food, exercise and sleep.

I begin most days by diffusing Awaken in my room. It is light and citrusy with floral notes. I preload the diffuser at night so I can turn it on when the alarm goes off and inhale for a few minutes before my feet hit the ground. It also keeps things peaceful as our family gets moving in the morning, as my room & bathroom is the central location for getting dressed and ready. I am sure they will want more privacy as they get older, but right now it’s easier to keep them on task if we are all getting ready together.

After school, I diffuse Stress Away or Peace & Calming II in the living room. The girls need a brain break when they come home to grab a snack and relax before homework time begins. Thankfully the teachers have given me the impression that they value more play and less homework at night. So long as the kids can finish the assignment in class, there will not be much homework to do in the evening.

As we tidy up at night, I spray Thieves or Purification on the bottoms of the backpacks, gym & dance bags, shoes, door handles. You can get Thieves in a spray, or you can make your own (recipe to follow). I find that these blends are a perfect natural alternative to Lysol and Febreeze for keeping the germs out and our home smelling fresh.

At bedtime, we rub Lavender on our feet and massage on our scalp behind our ears to help reduce anxiety and help us sleep well. If I’m still having trouble relaxing, I will mist Surrender on my pillow also.

Essential Oil Room/Linen Spray: In a glass or aluminum bottle, add 15-20 drops oils and 1 tbsp witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Fill to the top with distilled water and shake before spraying.

To learn more about how Young Living’s oils are made and how you can start buying them, visit their website.

Young Living products are not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease or condition.

July Reading

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. It was a little cheesy and unbelievable, but it was a fun read.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman. This was the complete opposite. So believable, from the way the relationship with her best friend changed through the college transition, to the suspicion and jealousy she feels of the new people she meets along this journey to solve the mystery, and especially the survivor’s guilt that she is in the midst of. I loved this one. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Shug by Jenny Han. This middle grade novel was lovely and sweet, and I’ll probably recommend this one to my daughter in a year or so.

The Girls by Emma Cline. This one was pretty good too. Socially awkward and starved for attention, this lonely girl gets taken in a direction that is truly scary. I have to admit- I listened to the audio version and skipped over the gruesome description of the murders. I’m just not good with that stuff. It brought vivid clarity to how vulnerable kids can be in those early teen years when the pressure to fit in so strong. The mother in me had a strong reaction to this one.

Have you read anything wonderful lately?

In the Kitchen

We have two new cooks in our kitchen these days and we are loving the results!

I decided to give each of my girls one night a week to plan, prepare and serve a meal, with me or their dad as their sous chef. They have to make a protein and a vegetable. And they have to give a “thank you” taste to  whatever is made for them.

I was hoping to pass on some kitchen skills, especially as my oldest seems more and more interested in experimenting, and I want her to be safe. But also to develop some empathy for what I do each week. And of course the one on one time with them is awesome too!

Sarah mostly likes to try new recipes, while Anna goes for breakfast for dinner or some of her other favorite foods (aka fruit, cereal, and cool whip). Overall, they are both trying new foods and thinking about how much time it takes to plan and prepare healthy food for our family.  We are having so much fun bonding and building up their confidence in the kitchen!

Lazy Days

Back in June, I resolved to become a better runner and applied myself wholeheartedly to RunsforCookies’s “your best 5K” training plan. I even used her summer running checklist as motivation to get creative so the challenge wasn’t so tedious.

But by the second week of July, I was officially a quitter. It was just toooo hot! Most of July was spent indoors in air-conditioning or marinating in a pool.

So for August, because it’s still hot and especially humid, I’m going to give myself 3 chances to get in my daily exercise:

  • Lay out exercise clothes the night before and set my alarm for a 5:30am run/walk around the neighborhood.
  • Get the girls involved in some evening yoga (we like this video).
  • Take the dog for a long walk after the kids have gone to bed.

Perhaps if I can get through another 6 weeks of summer, I can resume my quest for my best 5K…

How do you fit in daily exercise when it’s so hot if feels impossible to move?



The Andersonville/Norris area has long been a place of respite for our family. My grandparents had a house on Norris Lake, so we would spend summers there fishing and swimming. This summer we stayed a week and took in some old favorites, and discovered some new places that need to be shared.

Norris Lake – This lake is one of the most clear and clean in East Tennessee and hardly ever crowded, especially after mid-July. There are many small marinas with houseboats but the area around the lake is largely protected by TVA for wildlife management, with some small campgrounds and quiet residential areas.


Norris Dam – Our house is pretty far from the dam, so we rarely ride over in the boat. The park and dam are fun to explore, with many trails and a few museums and older historic structures. I haven’t been in years, so we took the kids over and loved every minute. It was really cool to see the fog over the lower part of the dam, due to the temperature difference in the water from the dam and the Clinch River. It was really humid and sticky so we hiked only one morning. We plan to hike more in the fall, especially to see the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. They have a community pool that’s older but well kept (and it has diving boards! My oldest was especially happy with that).


The Sweet Cafe – Located in Historic Norris, this small cafe was extraordinary on all accounts. We went for lunch and had delicious burgers and pizza, with the most delicious hand-cut french fries. My mom loved the chicken salad and the chocolate covered oreos were both beautiful and tasty. We brought my dad home a cinnamon roll that he said was the best he’s had in years. We went back for ice cream several times. The staff was attentive and friendly, and made us feel like we’d been regulars for years (which we certainly plan to be going forward).

The Velvet Pug – This small antique store has a very French rustic vibe, and we loved exploring all her treasures. The owner delighted us with her tales of exploring through France for inventory and explained all the local artists that she also showcases. She wasn’t ruffled by my kids exploring through the store; the atmosphere was very family friendly.

Museum of Appalachia – We didn’t make it to this museum on this trip, but we’ve been several times over the recent years. Their festivals are especially fun. The Days of the Pioneers Antique show is coming up in early September, and Tennessee Fall Homecoming in early October.