Thursday, June 30, 2011

Change of Gears....

Okay, so I know I pretty much just started this blog. No I'm not quiting. I'm just hoping to change gears a little. I had planned on it being a neutral blog for anyone (e.g. not talk about God or wanting to be a stay-at-home-mamma after being a stay-at-home-daughter). But it has just been too weird. The blog is barely off the ground so I don't feel too bad to add all that in. These things that I am posting are really just things I am doing to try to practice to become a good mom some day. So join me! Yippee! I'm sort of excited. This sounds like more fun!

Blessings to you all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How To Make (and sew!) A Heavy-Duty Door-Stop

With windows open in the summer and fresh air blowing through sometimes a gust of wind comes through and...BAM!... the door slams shut. Well I once heard a wise saying that things in the home should be both "useful and beautiful". Though I've chosen to make mine a bit plain, I think this fits into both categories. You can use whatever fabric fits your taste and you can add any sorts of things to make it pretty. Maybe glue a fake flower on top? Or perhaps flop down a little stuffed animal? You choose.

I'll admit right up front, this is a little bit of a difficult sewing project, but it's not too bad. Hopefully I explained it well enough! This is how to turn a plain old brick into an artsy door-stop.

Note that I used a pair of old jeans and kept one of the seams for a neat look - so ignore that seam when you're following the steps in the pictures! Also note that in the pictures below I am not sewing my stitches while it is on the brick, I am taking it off every time I stitch and putting it back on for the picture. Hopefully this way you can tell what I am doing more easily. As always, be patient and have fun. Enjoy!

You'll need a brick of desired size.

You'll also need some cloth (I've chosen jean).
Be sure you have plenty of fabric to work with. Think of how much you need when wrapping a present. Be sure the pretty side of the fabric is facing in towards the brick during the entire pinning and sewing process!
Fold jean over both sides.
Fold over the edges shown here...
...both sides.
Then stitch the hems all the way down each side of the fabric.
Lay both hems right next to eachother for this step. Pinch the material together from the top and bottom layer to close off the end.
Pin and stitch end closed. (Be sure your hemmed edges are laid neatly next to eachother, not like this picture - otherwise your opening won't close well. For another option you can even overlap the hemmed edges about 1" to close up the hole a little more if desired. I didn't overlap, nor were my hems hanging open when I stitched (for some reason I thought the picture would be better if I pulled it open) - see the final picture for how mine turned out.)
This part is a bit hard to show and describe. There is a little flap of fabric that sticks out at the edge of the brick. Pinch this, pin, and sew together.
Here is what the stitched flap looks like off of the brick.
The stitched flap gives this crisp edge.
Do the same thing on the other end, cut off excess fabric, and voila! A heavy-duty, yet decorative brick. Experiment with any fabric kinds and colors to personalize it to what you want!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Art of Literature

And I'm talking about GOOD literature. Yes, an intriguing story is quite enjoyable and a great way to relax, but don't  forget there are other purposes for books too! Here are a few genres to remind us of.

1. Children's books. They often have such cute, lighthearted stories. Go ahead, read one! And, while you're at it, brighten up a little one's day by reading it to them. Kids of all ages enjoy being read to. Sometimes amidst the books we read for ourselves, we forget about the little ones. Any young lady who can take hours of their day to read their favorite book, but can't stop to read a single book to a child, is brushing up against the act of being selfish. Especially young children who can't read good or at all love it when people older than them take the time to captivate them in an exciting story - even if it's only 10 pages long! It is important to them, and takes only a few minutes for you. So grab a little sibling, sprawl out on the couch together, and read a good book.

2. Home-repair. I know. You're thinking "what?!" Even though we are ladies, doesn't mean we can't know some basic home repair. In fact, a guy likes to have a lady that knows a little - just enough to be able to help him out as he does the trouble-shooting and main repairs. Although many of us young ladies don't have our own homes or husbands yet, it's good to know these things before we find ourselves with two crying babies while stressing over a leaky faucet! What do you do if the toilet keeps running? If you have two hoses on, the pressure-tank gets bogged down, and water turns to a dribble out the faucets? What do you do if you blow a breaker? Yes, a guy does like to help out his lady and do these things, but they also like it if you know a little so you can help - or at least so you can nod as he's explaining it and at least know what he's talking about!

3. Foreign language. Though it can be a big thing to tackle and isn't necessarily something that's "ladylike", knowing a second (or third!) language can be helpful and enjoyable. Some women who have children are even learning sign language so they can use it to communicate with their babies. I believe I read somewhere that it actually causes them to speak sooner because they are used to communicating and want to continue to in whatever way is possible.

4. Survival skills and how-to. I realize this sounds manly. I'm sorry. It does. But I'm talking about the survival skills that ladies need while the man is out hunting wild game with his hand-made bow and arrow set. Traditionally and culturally, ladies always seem to be the ones who mend the wounds in sticky situations - whether it's a hole from a gun-shot or just a scraped knee. (I do realize there are many male doctors, but in settings outside hospitals, it often tends to be the un-trained lady caring for the wounds). Birthing. I won't go into detail, but some people think this is an important, un-common, yet relatively easy skill. And you don't have to be in the woods to use this skill. There are a number of women who have their babies before they make it to the hospital room. There are plenty other survival skills. You could also choose the less nitty-gritty how-to skills such as couponing, multi-tasking, marriage, sewing, gardening, beading, finances, etc.

5. Self-help. These can be quite helpful with whatever you want help with. A real person to help you work through whatever it is you want to know about (marriage, breaking addictions, etc.) is super helpful. But if a book is all you can get your hands on, it can also be very helpful.

What do you think are some categories of good books that are exhorting and helpful?

Friday, June 24, 2011

How To Custom-Fit A Large T-Shirt

Have you ever had one of those t-shirts that are just way too huge? Well I've recently found that there are more options than tying it up with a pony-tail (still a little sloppy sometimes) or cutting it in fringe up the side and tying it together (you have to wear a shirt under it so you don't show skin up the sides!). Yes it does involve sewing, but it's not too hard. With a little bit of practice and patience, you'll be on your way to becoming your own personal tailor :D Remember, sewing is much more than a sampler or grandma's quilt. Sewing is the same art, plus a modern flare that allows us to tailor our clothes to whatever style we prefer.

Try this on a shirt that is unimportant to you first, until you get the hang of it.

1. Lay your big t-shirt, inside out, on a flat surface.
2. Lay a t-shirt that fits you well over the large one, lining up the neck and top of the sleeves.
3. Trace up the sides and bottom of the sleeves along the well-fitting shirt and onto the large shirt.
4. Sew along the lines.
5. Try it on inside out. If it fits well, cut off the extra fabric around the edges about 1 inch away from the new stitches you just made. If it doesn't fit too well, either tear out the stitches and start over (be patient!), or add another line of stitches to make it a little smaller.

Ta da!! Now your t-shirt fits you! If you're still having trouble, search youtube for tutorials. You can also search there for how to dart a shirt in other ways.

Here are a few pictures of my own project. I apologize in advance for the picture quality. I admit that I was much more involved with sewing than taking good pictures!

(Above: laying out shirt.)
(Above: Lining up smaller shirt over larger shirt.)

 (Above: tracing the smaller shirt.)

(Above: Stitching along traced line.)
(Above: Stitching along traced line.)
(Above: trying on the stitched shirt inside-out.)

(Above: cutting off excess cloth.)

Alright, now it's your turn to pursue some womanly arts! Go try it!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Art of Sewing

This particular art seems to be one that most women wish they could do, though half of them admit to not being good at it at all. Sewing isn't all that hard. Yes, some people can create immaculate and intricate designs on a 4 inch piece of cloth, but some sewing is quite basic. As long as you line everything up straight, it should usually work out :)

So why do so few women know how to sew? Isn't it an instinct that all women know? I've found that many men and women alike tend to think so. Well, a few decades, or perhaps centuries ago, practically every woman DID know how to sew. The sad truth is that somewhere the art got lost. Somewhere between a Victorian artistic sampler and our own crooked-excuse-of-a-quilt, the art was lost. Long ago it was considered both art and necessity. Though quilts, wall hangings, and samplers were all intricate pieces of art, we must not forget the mending and darning of torn clothes!

Some people might say that the age of computers took away this previous pastime, but I tend to think it came some time even before that. My own mother, respectfully, is no seamstress, though she wasn't raised with a computer. Nor is my grandmother. And so, was my great-grandmother good at sewing? I don't know if she was an artist of tiny embroideries, but I can say that she made plenty of potato-sack dresses back in the Depression. How far back do you have to go in your family to find a good "seamstress?"

The art of sewing may have been lost "somewhere back there", but that doesn't mean we have to leave it there. There are plenty of young women today learning how to sew. Anything from quilting and cross-stitching to fitting a too-baggy shirt and designing a cute purse. Sewing is still around today, with an added modern flare. Go use your favorite search engine and check out some of the neat clothing and other cloth articles that are being made today. You may be surprised at what you find!

Whether you are the master seamstress, have never sewn a stitch in your life, or are somewhere in between, I encourage you to learn and experiment all you can. There is something so womanly, so...feminine and appealing to a man about a woman that can sew. To many a man she seems thrifty and intelligent to know how to fit "those cut apart scrap things" together. Don't give up! No matter how bad you think you are. Just try again and be sure to measure, take your time, and be sure it's all straight. Happy sewing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sister Time on the Computer

Just the other day one of my sisters was mulling around. Bored. She decided to go on the computer. But still bored. It's amazing how much more fun something can be when you do it with someone else. I said, "Hey, I'll play with you." "Really?!" She exclaimed. So for the next 1 1/2 hours I played a multiplayer real-time strategy game with her. And hey, we even won the game!

Just because computers are for "wasting time" as some may say, doesn't mean that we can't spend time together and have good fun with them.

Today, ask your sister to play a computer game with you. Even if you are bad at computer games, just get over it and play with her! Especially if she likes computers. If she is a fan of computer games and you aren't, it will mean even more to her that you took the time to play with her. Your little sister will feel SOOO important. Go ahead. Try it. Just make sure that if you're bad at computer games, you don't play on her team. Otherwise she might be afraid to let you play!

Do it and remember to keep it lighthearted, even when you get upset - have fun!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Art of Sisterhood

Have you ever wished that you and your sister got along better? Sometimes we look at the Jones' and say "Gee, I wish my sister and I got along as good as you girls do!" Well, just because we might not get along doesn't mean there is no hope.

I know you young ladies may not want to hear this, but in order to "make your sister get along with you" someone has to put the first effort into it. Someone has to take the first step - that unfailing love that shows her you care no matter what. Just because she may be grumpy doesn't mean you have to.

I can't vouch for young ladies with older sisters, because I am the oldest sister in my family. But it seems like it would be more difficult to get along with them simply because we feel like they are older and should be the ones to take initiative. But it can be you. Hold your tongue when you want to say something mean and brush off her rude words. Try to compromise. Ask her to go places with you or do things with you.

As for younger sisters, it is actually really easy. This much I can vouch for. But just because it's easy doesn't mean I always show that I care, and it doesn't mean that you always show that you care. All little sisters want it to know that they are important to their big sisters. Just do something with them. Invite them to go somewhere one-on-one with you. Take them to the mall with you once and they may just love you all week (or even longer!). Let them help you bake cookies - they'll be so proud. Play dress-up with them - they'll love it. Any little kind gesture that includes your little sister and she will love you. Also remember to be a peacemaker. Compromise. Don't yell at the top of your lungs every time they do something stupid. Be patient and show them what they should do instead. Sisters love peacemakers that care about them. If they know that you can handle a tough situation with patience and work it out fairly, they will come to you looking for help because they know they can count on you.

I will be honest. Sometimes people tell my sisters and I that they are jealous of us, and that we get along so well. Honestly, it sort of makes me sad. I know that I am by no means the best sister on the planet, and yet people wish they could be like us. How is it that no one has taught us how to love eachother and get along? Why does no one tell us these things? Getting along with our sisters makes our lives much more pleasant. There is minimal yelling, and someone you can always count on for help and encouragement. There is nothing like a built-in friend when life comes crashing in on us. It is indeed an art that is more beautiful the more it is practiced.

Friday, June 17, 2011

So What's This All About?

 The Name

Yes, I realize the name of this blog sounds a bit anti-feminist. I'm sorry.  Feminism is a touchy thing. I don't want any heated feminism debates here so I will get it out now. I half like feminism, half don't. I like that ladies can make their own choices, but don't like that it's turned us into this odd female-male...mixture...thing. Deep down inside me I want to be a lady. I want to wear skirts when I'm feeling pretty, go to little girls' tea parties, and some day care for my own dear prince charming. I want to be unique. A woman. I want to be worth more than rubies - not some sort of in-between, mediocre lady. And I have decided to take this deeply engrained desire...and pursue it. Join me?

Now back to the name of this blog.... In choosing the name I played with many words, but found that they all sounded, well, anti-feminist - any words like "womanly", "ladylike", "gentlewoman", "young lady", etc. So finally, I decided to go with the name that seemed to best fit my goal for this blog: to "pursue" (to chase after) the "art" (I am finding that it is indeed not a mere job or thing-you-should-do, but a delicate art) of "womanhood" (encompassing every part of being a woman - the state, quality, and everything we choose, as a woman, to do).

The Reason

Over the past few years - well, months especially - I have been learning lots about the art of what it means to be a "real man" and what it means to be a "real lady". As I take a look around it seems easy to describe a "real man". Oh, and by a "real man", I mean a classy man. Not a slut. Not a baggy-clothes-only man. Not a suit-only man. Not a goody-two-shoes man, but one of those good, classy men. Do you get the picture? I feel like it's so easy to see what they do that I could make a whole list right here of what might be some things some manly things: holding doors for ladies, bringing home fresh-caught fish for dinner, canoeing through dangerous rapids, fixing clanky cars, grilling mean burgers, saving a lady from inevitable peril, carrying a pocket knife at all times, riding motorcycles...FAST!..., hammering things together, knowing how to shoot a rifle, rototilling a way-too-big garden for his favorite damsel, having the ability to survive in the wilderness, or perhaps doing twenty one-handed push-ups in a row. Do you get the picture NOW? Every real, strong man might not be all of these things, but he is that man that when we see him our hearts skip a beat. We say: "Wow! He is ALL man!" So now comes the question that I pose: if this is a real man....then what is a real lady? I, honestly, had a very hard time coming up with an answer to this question at first, and so did some fellow ladies around me. But now I am jumping out on a limb. Taking a leap of faith. Pursuing what it means to be a real woman.

How It's Gonna Work
I am going to post something several times a week that are practical things you can do to help you work towards being a "better" lady. I'm doing these things too so feel free to comment on any posts! There are plenty of categories we should be able to touch on, including sewing, kids, gardening, music, cooking, beading, entrepreneurship, cleaning, etc. All great things for a truly classy young woman to be able to do! These are written FROM a young, single woman and are written FOR all you other young single women who are reading this blog. Whether you are trying to figure out what in the world you're supposed to do, or if you just need a little motivation, here is a place you can pull up your chair and stay a while! I'll put up a general post for each area, and then dive into practical things we can do.

In Closing
I know, some of you may still be upset with me with ten million reasons why I sound anti-feminist, or pro-feminist for that matter. Read the first paragraph again. I tend to think that equality doesn't have to mean do-everything-the-same-whether-you-are-a-guy-or-lady, but that we each have a right to chose whatever we want. The genders are obviously different. Physically and emotionally. So instead of trying to be the same and being BORING - let's keep life fun! Differences and traditions (of which I will also get into) keep life exciting. Let's face it ladies: being the same as a guy is often not fun. It's not romantic. It's not natural. It's not as adventurous. It's not as elegant. There is no prince charming. There is no princess to be rescued. There is no rare artwork that fits together in two distinct pieces. Life the same = boring. Life unique = an adventure....

So I would like this blog to be "all lady". I want to post "the good, the bad, and the ugly!"Besides, I don't know about you, but I want to get one of those real men for my prince charming. And if I were to get that real man, but be a less-than-real lady myself, I would feel like a miserable and selfish young lady. And still, what better way is there to get a real man, than to be a real woman?
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