Archives for May 2013

The Battle is On

Lion 1 Peter 5:8 @ponderthepath

I was on the top rung of the ladder painting my living room ceiling when the conversation started. You know the one where I start talking to the audience in my head. “Ladies, we must be vigilant. Our adversary, the devil is walking around like a roaring lion seeing whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The longer you homeschool, you realize how seasonal homeschooling can be. Some years are planting years, and you spend your time getting the fields reading and planting the seeds. Other years are harvesting years when the fruit of your labor is gathered up.

The last couple of years have been a time of winter for our family. We have suffered hardships and have survived on the previous seasons bounty. And just as I am always so thrilled when the first hint of spring arrives, I have recently been renewed by the warmth of a new season of homeschooling on the horizon.

And with the dawn of this new season comes a strong zeal to do away with complacency and press forward with purpose and reason. We are in the midst of a battle and we are training up warriors for this battle.

The Battle

This weekend, I watched a rather long YouTube video of a recorded chat between 4 atheist. The reason for the chat was their concern with the fact that so many Christians (mostly homeschoolers) are teaching their children that God created the world in 6 literal days 6,000 years ago. One of the ladies stated that she felt that it was “immoral” for parents to teach this as truth.

We live in a society that believes women should have the right to kill their baby’s in the womb, but should not have the right to direct the learning of their children. We have millions of Americans fighting for same sex marriage stating that it has no effect on Christians (“their marriage doesn’t effect you”), and yet they want to dictate what I teach my child because finding a cure for AIDS depends on my child learning “real science”.

The Warriors

Back in 2006, there was a speaker at our church that was talking about creationism and the book of Genesis. I had never heard of the speaker before, nor had I heard anyone put all the pieces of the puzzle together like he did. He answered questions that I had had for years concerning dinosaurs and the different races of people and how animals change over time.

He presented information from Christian men and women who were scientist in all different fields. And he showed that each time true scientific methods are used, the truth of the Bible is always made clearer. Science never contradicts the Word of God and will always prove what the Bible says is true.

Over the years, I have listened to this man speak many times and am so thankful for men like Ken Ham who stand and speak the truth even when faced with adversity.

The Victory

Ken will be speaking at a homeschool convention this summer, where the aforementioned atheist group will be protesting. Their hope is to silence those of us who stand for Biblical truth. I am hoping to attend the convention, not because I like being in the middle of turmoil…I don’t.

In fact, I could very easily stay at home and think to myself, “This is a free country. They can’t tell me what to teach my children. Homeschooling is legal and always will be.” But the fact is, our freedoms will only remain intact if we are vigilant in standing up to the enemy. Hard earned freedoms will only remain if we work hard to keep them.

Should we fall back because of fear? Jesus tells us in Revelation 1:17 to “fear not” because He is the first and the last. How can we trust that the Lord will be the last, unless we believe with all our hearts that He was the first. He was the Creator God who spoke the world into existence in 6 literal days 6,000 years ago. And He is the one who holds the world in His hands and directs the paths of men. And because we know this, we can rest assured when He tells us to “fear not”.

Crayon Roll-Up Bag

Crayon Roll-up Bag @ponderthepath

I don’t know about you, but crayon boxes don’t last very long at my house.  Usually within a few days, we are putting crayons into zip lock bags or zippered pencil bags.  The problem with this is that it is difficult to find the color you need without either dumping the entire bag, or digging through it.

I decided to make a Crayon Roll-Up Bag for my girls.  The only thing sweeter than a new box of crayons is a new box of crayons in a bright new roll-up bag.  You should have seen their eyes light up when I told them the bag I made was for them!

These bags are great for keeping crayons secure and in place, while allowing you to see which color you want to use.  They also make super gifts–just fill with crayons, add in a coloring book, and you have a simply delightful handmade gift.

Let’s get started…

Here is what I used, but I did have a bit of the fabric left over.  Use what you have on hand and don’t be afraid to mix and match for a scrappy look.

Items needed:

1/3 yard printed fabric
1/3 yard solid fabric
10 x 14 inch piece of batting
24 inches ribbon

smmeasurements

Cut:

1 – 10 x 14 inch printed fabric
2 – 6  1/2 x 14 inch printed fabric
1 – 10 x 14 inch solid fabric
binding –  60 x 2 1/2 inch solid fabric

Note: Seam allowances are 1/4 inch.

Sew Edges Together

Sew Edges Together

Turn Fabric Inside Out

Turn Fabric Inside Out

Pin to Fabric

Pin to Fabric

Sew:

Take one of the 6 1/2 x 14 inch printed fabric pieces and fold in half lengthwise, right sides facing together.  Sew together along the length of the fabric.  Turn inside out and press flat.  Repeat with the other piece of 6 1/2 x 14 inch printed fabric.

Sandwich together the 10 x 14 inch pieces of fabric with the batting in between.  Both fabric pieces should be right side facing out.

Pin:

Pin the 2 – 3 x 14 in panels (the ones you just sewed together and pressed) to the solid side of the sandwiched fabrics.  Start by measuring from the bottom 1/2 inch.  Pin one panel down, then measure 1 1/2 inches further up.  Pin the next panel down.  You should have 2 inches left at the top of this panel.

Sew Along Bottom

Sew Along Bottom

Mark Lines and Sew

Mark Lines and Sew

Trim Edges

Trim Edges

Sew:

Sew along the bottom edge of each panel.  (Make sure you are sewing the bottom edge.  I somehow turned mine around and sewed the top edge.  Not good.)

Mark:

With dressmaker’s chalk or a water soluble pen, mark the rectangle in 1 inch intervals from top to bottom.

Sew:

Sew along each line you marked.

Tip: Sew from bottom to top to prevent pucker at the bottom of each panel.

Finish:

Trim the edges slightly.  Add binding around the edges.  If you need help with your binding, please take a look at my quilt binding tutorial.  You will bind the crayon bag the same as a quilt, only smaller.  Last, tack ribbon onto the printed side of the fabric.

If you are a bit creative, you can create these bags for many different purposes.  I made one for my older daughter to keep her knitting needles in.  They would also work for drawing pencils or sewing accessories.

Crayon Rollup Bag @ponderthepath

Enjoy your new Crayon Roll-Up Bag!

Online Sewing Class

Staycation Destinations

Year of the Staycation - Austin @ponderthepathAs promised, here is your list of almost 100 staycation destinations!

Mid Atlantic

NW (or all), Connecticut :: Parenting Miracles
Boston (or all), Massachusetts :: Maven of Savin
Central, New Jersey :: Our Good LIfe
Adirondak Mountains and Central, New York :: For This Season
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York :: Ann’s Entitled Life
Syracuse, New York :: I am THAT lady
Erie, Pennsylvania :: Growing Kids Ministry
Greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania :: Family Balance Sheet
Hershey, Pennsylvania :: Good Deal Mama
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania :: Beyond the Cover
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania :: The Coupon “High”
Poconos, Pennsylvania :: Bucktown Bargains
Scranton, Pennsylvania :: Bucktown Bargains

Midwest

Des Moines, Iowa :: Make the best of everything
Aurora, Illinois :: A Savings WOW!
Central, Illinois :: The Homeschool Scientist
Chicago, Illinois :: Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Naperville, Illinois :: The Sensible Mom
Schaumburg, Illinois :: Ravings By Rae
Fort Wayne, Indiana :: Simplified Saving
Indianapolis, Indiana (Metro Area) :: In Good Cents
Muncie, Indiana (Central IN) :: the daisyhead
Northern Indiana :: So Dough Savvy
Kansas City Area :: Kansas City Mamas
Metro Detroit, Michigan :: Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Rapids, Michigan :: Give Me Neither
Oakland County, Michigan :: Bargain Shopper Mom
Minneapolis, Minnesota :: Creative Couponing
Rural Minnesota (either Southern our Lake Country) :: Mommysavers.com
St. Cloud, Minnesota :: Frugal Finders
Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas :: Kosher on a Budget
Springfield, Missouri :: Getting Freedom
Cincinnati, Ohio :: Family Friendly Cincinnati
Columbus, Ohio :: Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio :: Savings Lifestyle: Dayton
Mansfield, Ohio :: The Traveling Praters
NE Ohio :: Raising Lifelong Learners
Northeast Ohio (Canton, Akron, Cleveland) :: Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Black Hills, South Dakota :: Little House Living
South Dakota :: Moms Mustard Seeds
Oshkosh, Wisconsin :: Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom

Mountain

Phoenix, Arizona :: Mom Endeavors
Scottsdale, Arizona :: Saving For Someday
Tucson, Arizona :: Desert Chica Ramblings
Colorado Springs, Colorado :: The Greenbacks Gal
Denver, Colorado :: Bargain Blessings
Helena, Montana :: The WiC Project
Omaha, Nebraska :: Mom Endeavors
Reno, Nevada – Lake Tahoe (Northern Nevada) :: Saving in Nevada

Pacific

Fresno, California (Central Valley) :: NerdFamily Blog
Los Angeles, California :: Savings.com
San Diego, California :: Good Cheap Eats
San Diego, California :: Life as MOM
Portland, Oregon :: Frugal Living NW
Seattle, Washington :: Thrifty NW Mom

South Atlantic

Arkansas :: Discovering Arkansas
Washington, DC :: Kidventurous
Clearwater Beach, Florida :: Bargain Briana
Jacksonville, Florida :: Saving The Family Money
Southwest Florida (Ft. Myers area) :: Chaos Is Bliss
St. Augustine, Florida :: Simply St. Augustine
Tallahassee, Florida :: SwagGrabber
Atlanta, Georgia (metro area) :: Hodgepodge
Atlanta, Georgia (metro area) :: The Couponing Couple
Annapolis, Maryland :: The Happy Housewife
Hagerstown, Maryland :: Cheryl Pitt
Asheville, North Carolina :: Paradise Praises
Charlotte, North Carolina :: from our front porch lookin’ in…
Raleigh/Southeastern, North Carolina :: Upside Down Homeschooling
Upstate South Carolina :: The Tween & Me
Charlottesville, Virginia :: How to Have it All
Richmond, Virginia :: Teachers of Good Things
Smithfield, Virginia :: Walking in High Cotton
Virginia Beach, Virginia :: The Coupon Challenge

South Central

Coastal Alabama :: Meet Penny
Huntsville, Alabama :: The Traveling Praters
Northern Kentucky :: Simply Sherryl
Chattanooga, Tennessee :: Living Chic on the Cheap
East Tennessee (Smoky Mountains, Knoxville) :: Finding Joy on the Journey
Nashville, Tennessee :: Montessori Tidbits
Arlington, Texas :: Grocery Shop For FREE
Austin, Texas (Hill Country) :: Ponder the Path
College Station, Texas :: How to Homeschool My Child
Dallas, Texas :: Surviving The Stores
East Dallas, Texas :: Funky Faith Girl
Fort Worth, Texas :: Coupons & Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas :: MomsToolbox
Houston, Texas :: MyLitter
Katy, Texas :: Moms Confession
McAllen, Texas (Rio Grande Valley) :: iLoveMy5Kids
San Antonio, Texas :: Melissa’s Bargains

Craftsy Class Giveaway

Crayon Roll-up Bag @ponderthepath

My first memory of sewing was when I was probably 6 or 7 and my mom let me make a pot holder on the sewing machine. I don’t know how well the pot holder turned out, but I do know that I have always loved to sew.

In high school I took home economics and learned to read patterns and sew garments. I didn’t particularly enjoy sewing with patterns because I always felt they were quite tedious and tended to do things the hard way. Really, it was most likely that I was impatient and wanted to be done with the project.

Last year I was able to take a couple of classes from Craftsy. Craftsy offers all sorts of classes (sewing, quilting, baking, knitting, crocheting, cake decorating), but the 2 classes I have taken both had to do with sewing garments.

Tiered Skirts @ponderthepath

The A-line skirt class teaches you how to create skirts from scratch, meaning you make the pattern as well. Once I took this class, I felt like I really understood the process of making skirts so much better. I thought this might stifle my creativity, but it actually allowed me to become more creative. Now that I understand the basic structure of creating a skirt from scratch, I am able to modify the process and create the skirts I want.

I am also in the process of taking the Couture Dress class that teaches you how to create a dress muslin and then modify it for the perfect fitting. It is much more of a challenge, but I have really learned so much from this class. The lady that teaches the class, Susan Khalje, is one of the most talented seamstresses in the country. Not only that, she has a great gift for teaching so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. In other words, she makes it look easy!

Firecracker Quilt @ponderthepath

I love sharing projects that I have made here on my blog, but I realize that many of you would love to make similar projects but don’t know how to sew. I would love to sit with each of you and teach you the things I have learned over the years, but it just isn’t possible. I figured the next best thing would be a class from Craftsy!

In order to enter, visit Craftsy, take a look at the classes they offer and tell me which one you would like to take. Leave a comment letting me know which one.

You can also share this giveaway {pretty please} with everyone you know or follow me for additional entries.

Craftsy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Staycation: Fun Things to Do Around Austin

Year of the Staycation - Austin @ponderthepath

If you don’t live near Austin, no problem…come back tomorrow and I will be posting a list with staycation ideas for almost 100 different cities!

After having been away from Texas for almost 20 years, returning for good has become a staycation for our family. We are very blessed to live smack dab in the middle of Austin and Houston, which provides up with a variety of activities within driving distance.

I wanted to share some of our favorite places to visit near Austin, as well as many more that are on our bucket list. Both of my brothers live in Austin, so they have been a great help in pointing us to some really cool destinations!

Exploring the Hill Country

Zilker Zephyr @ponderthepath

Zilker Park

Zilker Park is one of the first places my brother took us when we stayed in Texas 2 years ago. It is also where we chose to spend Mother’s Day this year. Zilker Park is located in the heart of Austin. Within this 350 acre park, you will find a large playground with giant musical instruments, the Zilker Zephyr train that tours the park, Bartons Springs Pool, open fields, and a beautiful river meandering through the land. In the summer time, there are musicals and plays at the outdoor Zilker Theater.

xylophone Zilker Park @ponderthepath

We have flown kites here, went wading in the spring, had a picnic, hiked through the woods, and generally just relaxed and enjoyed our time at Zilker Park.  Next time we visit, we hope to explore Zilker Botanical Gardens located within the park.

Barton Springs

Barton Springs, the fourth largest natural spring in Texas, is located within Zilker Park, but is worth it’s own day trip. Barton Springs Pool is a 3 acre, natural, spring fed swimming pool with an average year round temperature of 68 degrees. Right outside the swimming pool, you can access the creek and wade in the beautiful crystal waters.

barton spring creek @ponderthepath

If you are looking for a little more adventure, there are canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats that can be rented from Zilker Park Boat Rentals for a day out on the water.

Austin Children’s Museum

children's museum @ponderthepath

Our visit to the Austin Children’s Museum may have been on accident, but it was one place the younger children thoroughly enjoyed! The children’s museum is a hands on learning adventure geared towards younger children. There is an area to make craft projects using recycled materials. My son loved the tool bench with all the nuts and bolts used to attach panels together.

The museum offers several discount days, including a free Sunday afternoon admission. We were able to get in free for military appreciation month. Check with the website to see what discounts are available.

Inner Space Caverns

When I was a kid, I remember touring Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and just being amazed at the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. I was excited to find out that there are several limestone caverns near Austin. We are hoping to visit Inner Space Caverns this summer and make a life long memory for our children. Inner Space Caverns offers several discounts including a military discount.

Enchanted Rock State Park

Photo Credits: Jujutacular

Photo Credits: Jujutacular

If you enjoy hiking and nature, I am told that Enchanted Rock is an awesome place to enjoy both. The pink granite rock formation offers many trails and places to climb. There are vernal pools to explore and rocks to climb. Make sure and bring plenty of water for a day out on the rock.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

bluebonnet @ponderthepath
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is number 1 on my places to visit this summer. I am an herbalist and enjoy learning to identify new species of plants. But even if I wasn’t, the beauty of the wildflowers themselves still captures my heart! The center offers several hiking trails with different plants featured on each trail. There are also many different types of gardens showcasing the beautiful wildflowers native to the Texas Hill Country. If you love the flowers as much as I do and want to bring them back with you, the center offers wildflowers for sale twice a year. I will be there next October!

Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms

Step back in time and experience life in the 1800’s on this 90 acre historical farm, Jourdan-Bachmann Pioneer Farms. There are 5 different areas that cover: an 1841 Tonkawa Encampment, an 1868 German Immigrant Farm, an 1873 Texian Farm, an 1887 Cotton Planter’s Farm and an 1899 Sprinkle Corner rural village. Costumed guides illustrate life on each of the themed farms. Children learn how daily chores were done, such as milking a cow, making candles, woodworking and much more. They can pick vegetables from the garden or taste a home cooked meal made on the farm. There are animals to pet and horses to ride. Lots of fun while learning about history at the same time!

Bat Viewing at the Congress Avenue Bridge

Photo Credit: Peter17

Photo Credit: Peter17

Over 1.5 million bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge every night from March to November. We had a bat in our house several years ago and seeing 1.5 million of them sounds a little creepy, but I am sure this is something the kids would absolutely love. If you are a photography enthusiast, this is also a great location to catch some beautiful shots of the capital.

Kiddie Acres

“Old school” meets “Preschool”…an amusement park geared towards families with younger children! Kiddie Acres is the classic amusement park offering carousel rides and pony rides. After playing at the amusement park, the family can spend time playing miniature golf or eating pizza, hot dogs, or cotton candy.

Austin Zoo

elephant at zoo @ponderthepath
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Typical animal fun never loses it’s appeal to both young and old. We love to just walk around and marvel at God’s creation and the Austin Zoo is the perfect place to do just that!

Texas Capital

Photo Credits: Kumar Appaiah

Photo Credits: Kumar Appaiah

A guide to visiting Austin just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the state capital. I remember the first time I visited the capital when I was in junior high, looking up inside the dome. It takes my breath away just remembering it’s grandeur. Free guided tours are offered daily, including an overview of the Capitol’s art and architecture, Texas history, and the Texas legislature.

Cool Websites to Find More To Do

Free Fun in Austin – information on finding free activities, free food, and free services

Austin Bored Kids – activities going on in Austin

Austin Texas – event calendar for Austin area

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Felted Dryer Balls @ponderthepath

Many years ago I learned to make my own laundry detergent and was thrilled to be able to avoid harsh chemicals and save a pretty penny. However, until recently, I continued to purchase dryer sheets because my husband cannot stand his clothes to have static electricity.

I was thrilled to find this very simple alternative to dryer sheets that is not only cost effective, it is also reusable and non-toxic. Throw a few felted dryer balls into the dryer to reduce static electricity, decrease wrinkles in clothing, and speed up drying time.

Join me at The Happy Housewife where I am sharing a tutorial on making your own wool dryer balls!