DIY Gift Bag

My niece and God-daughter has recently graduated from high school and we are attending her graduation party soon. So I got out my DCWV (Die Cuts With a View) Blossoms & Butterflies stack and made her a gift bag.

First, I took two pieces of 12×12 paper of the same pattern. Then I scored each page. The left sides, right sides, and bottoms were all scored at 2″, then folded.

When all three sides are folded, a square is formed in the bottom left and right corners. I took my scissors and cut from the bottom (on the fold) to the intersecting fold. That makes two 2″ cuts from the bottom. This will create two flaps on the side panels.

Fold the sides in and, using double-sided tape, adhere the two small flaps to the bottom panel (the tape will be in the printed side). The bottom will look like this:

Take the second piece of paper – already scored, folded, and the flaps cut – and fold the sides and bottom in. Add adhesive to the white side of the two long side panels, all the way to the bottom of the paper. Combine this with the other page and adhere the panels to the other piece already completed. The flaps will be adhered to the bottom as well.

Now adhere the remaining bottom flap to the bag, and the basic bag is complete. I decided to add a pair of handles to my bag as well. I raided my daughter’s pencil box and borrowed her protractor. Using this, I traced two handles and cut them out.

Knowing that I wanted to put something in the bag that would be rather heavy, I decided to staple the handles to the bag. However, you could also use your adhesive to do this if your bag will contain something lighter. I had some bee stickers that were the perfect size, so I used them to cover the staples. Since the paper was butterflies and flowers, these were perfect!

Then I added some tissue paper and my niece’s gifts. I can’t wait to give them to her! Oh, I almost forgot… instead of discarding the scraps from the handles, I decided to put them together to make a little gift card holder for part of her gift. I thought it came out cute!

Thanks for taking a look. If you decide to make one of these, please link to yours in the comments!

What’s For Dinner Mom?

Here on the East Coast, we are on the tail end of a two day heat wave, with temps hovering around 100 degrees. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do when the thermometer reads 90+ is turn on the oven and/or cook on the stove. I live in an old house that does not have central air and we rely on window units to cool the house on these hot days. We have one large unit for the main living area; however, there’s a large corner wall separating the living area from the kitchen. Translation: no cooling in the kitchen. Sigh.

Tonight I was lucky to have some leftovers, vegetables, and a microwave. But what if I had had something else? What if I had something already prepared and just waiting in my freezer? And what if this something was already cooked so that all I had to do was defrost it and re-heat it in the microwave? Then the children and I could have had a regular meal without heating up the kitchen. Now don’t get misunderstand, there’s nothing wrong with leftovers; we all have to eat them once in a while. It just would have been nice to have the option.

This week I got to read a book called “What’s For Dinner, Mom? Practical and Easy Ideas to Encourage Moms to Minister From Their Kitchens” by Mrs. Lorrie Flem of Eternal Encouragement. I’ll be honest, when I first found out that this book was about bulk cooking, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I never thought I’d ever consider cooking more than one meal at once. It seemed like too much work.

But, like many things, I discounted the idea before getting all the facts. Yes. I. am. guilty. I wish I could say that this is the first time…

So, I read the book.

I was pleasantly surprised – I’m even considering giving it a try. Lorrie includes so much helpful information in her book – different methods of bulk cooking, suggested helpful items, and tons of recipes. After reading through Lorrie’s wisdom and experience, I can now see how I can make her system work for my family. It’s not your typical bulk cooking. In fact, take what you think bulk cooking is and throw it out the window. Then get a copy of “What’s For Dinner, Mom?” and learn a new way to do it.

In light of yesterday’s post, I really think this will provide me a way to both teach Diva about cooking as well as allowing our family to have more time each day to spend together outside of the kitchen. I’m looking forward to giving Lorrie’s method a try.

Now, guess what? There are a few of us Gabby Moms posting reviews of “What’s For Dinner, Mom?” and The Head Mama of us all is going to select one blogger to receive a hard copy of her own! But that’s not all… one commenter on the winning blog will also receive their own copy. So, please leave a comment, because if I win, so could you! Let me know if you have ever tried bulk cooking, what method you tried, and how it worked for you.

* I received a pdf copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the Gabby Moms program.

Not Just A New Chapter

Last summer I made a decision to blog regularly. I had even decided to work with someone to redesign the blog and move it to a new domain.

However, none of it ever happened. My laptop stopped working and a nine-day fix turned into a two and a half month ordeal; resulting in a new laptop, but a corrupted hard drive. I lost everything!

But that loss pales in comparison to several life events that began to unfold during the summer as well. I have been debating whether or not to post about this; and every time I decide to post it, the debate becomes how much to share. I love reading blogs; and getting a glimpse of other people’s lives. I have loved getting to know several people I have ‘met’ in this blogosphere. But my pet peeve is reading blogs where the author seems perfect; where it seems that nothing negative ever happens in his or her life. While I don’t believe that bloggers should reveal all the intimate details of their lives, I do believe that if you are blogging about your life you should be real. So that is how I finally made my decision to write this post. I want to be real. Please remember that I come from a Catholic background. Everything I have done has involved prayer and consultation with Godly people, as well as my priest.

So, here goes… last summer I discovered that my husband was having an affair. I certainly did not condone this behavior; and have not, as of yet, forgiven him for it (I’m working on it). I did feel that it was only right to try to fix what was wrong. I prayed, bought books, and sought out couple’s counseling. We even attended a Love and Respect video conference (I highly recommend this conference!). I tried changing to be the wife he said he wanted.

Out of respect for my children & a little privacy, I won’t go into all the details; but let’s just say that nothing made a difference. In fact, a tragedy revealed that he had never really ended the affair. The husband of the woman in question chose to commit suicide. It was this action, in combination with his deception, that began a severe downward spiral. We each spoke separately to a priest at our church, and I had hoped we could somehow reconcile this and move forward. It wasn’t to be. In fact, things began to get worse.

Something seemed to snap in my husband. He began to verbally and emotionally abuse me; in private and in front of my children. He began to get more secretive – removing my name from accounts, changing passwords, and refused any attempts to reconcile. He still went through the motions – we tried to appear ‘normal’ during the holidays and for my birthday in January, but it didn’t work. I would find out later that he was still involved with her, even after her husband’s suicide. The abuse continued to escalate and he claimed his health was beginning to suffer as a result. He blamed me.

At the end of February, I had foot surgery. I was told that I couldn’t walk or drive for three weeks. One week after surgery, he moved out; leaving me with two children unable to take care of themselves. He has been gone ever since. I don’t really know where he lives. To his credit, he continues to pay the bills; though he has mentioned that he does this so the courts won’t consider it abandonment. However, he threatens to shut something off on a regular basis; he’s even threatened to withhold our food money unless I did something he wanted. He does come and visit the kids about once a week for a couple of hours. Ironically, he spends more time with them now; and pays more attention to them, then he ever did before.

But my children are suffering. They don’t understand. I am doing all that I can for them, but it never seems to be enough. I pray for them and with them. I spend ‘alone’ time with each of them separately. I have counseling available to both of them. I’ve kept things as routine as possible. It’s all so difficult – I can’t explain to them why this happened; I can’t change it; I can’t bring their father back; I can’t give them the daddy they so desperately desire. They deserve better. So I pray for them. I remind them that God wants to be their Father. At their ages, it’s just not enough for them.

I have met with my priest and discussed all the details with him; including many not mentioned here (hard to believe, huh?). He said that the separation was probably a very good thing. It would hopefully prevent things from escalating further. He also told me that since we were married in a civil ceremony (at my husband’s insistence), the Church didn’t consider us married. I know that some of you will disagree with that; but it does help in the event I am blessed with another opportunity for marriage. Which means this one will have to be dissolved legally…

I know God hates divorce; but I also know He loves me and my children. He doesn’t want us to remain in a situation where there’s potential danger. I know some people would say to remain married and just live apart. However, that, in my opinion, just condones his adulterous behavior. It’s just not something with which he is concerned. He has already moved on. Also, remaining legally married prevents the children and me from having the opportunity to find a Godly relationship. I believe that God will provide a Godly man for us who will teach my children what a Godly marriage looks like; what God intended husbands and fathers to be.

While I know not everyone will agree with my decision to divorce my husband, I have prayed about this and talked about it with Godly people. It’s not a decision I made lightly. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother with no income. With God’s help, I intend to maintain that. As you may know from other posts, my son is on the Autism Spectrum and he needs to have his mother home with him, as it has been for the entirety of his life. Neither of them need any more changes right now. I have decided that I am no longer going to subject them to the abuse. It certainly doesn’t teach my son how to be a Godly man; nor does it teach my daughter how a man is supposed to treat a woman. What I am trying to teach them is strength, integrity, and reliance on God. I am at peace with this decision, even if it’s not what I wanted. I am at peace with it, even if it’s difficult. I ask that instead of judgement you say a prayer for my children and me.

Thank you for reading, and not judging. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for allowing me to be a bit transparent and real. My life is far from perfect, but it contains the most perfect thing there is: the Love of the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13