Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy Paper Basket

Old World Roses in a Basket
by Albert Williams  (English 1922 - )

This is a simple paper craft that I created for a 5-year-old, but it could be used to accent a table for tea guests, with each basket made to give away holding something else handmade, or anything that suits your theme.  You can use really high-end scrap papers, or you can use a paper from a brown paper bag. I used children's construction paper.

The only ingredients are paper of any size, scissors and tape.

Square-off your paper by picking up a point and bringing the paper over to line up with the straight edge on the other side. 

Fold any excess paper sticking out, evenly lined up with one edge,

and cut it off along the folded line.

Set the excess piece aside 

Open up the paper and fold one side up to the middle line.

Fold the opposite side up to the middle also.

Open up the paper again,

and fold up the other two sides to the middle.

Open it up again and you will see the fold lines of a lot of even-shaped squares.

Cut off all four corners.

This is what it will look like with the corners
cut.  You can use this for a template and just trace around it to make other baskets, or you can follow the entire proceedure for each basket. In my observation, children would rather know how to do this step-by-step so they can pick up a piece of paper any time and do it themselves, so I do not make a template. However if you are making 20 of them for a special event, make a cardboard pattern and trace around it.

Pull up the corner sides and put one piece of tape on each corner to secure it.

Fold that left-over strip of paper in half, lengthwise.

Cut along the fold into two pieces.

Use one piece for a handle, taping it once on each side.

These are not strong baskets, but will hold some lightweight paper craft, hand shredded paper (made with a hand held shredder usually available in craft and scrapbooking stores) or used to hold some kind of food served at the table.

Not "Stuck" At Home

Susan Rios has a host of new paintings both on her Etsy shop and her website. If you'll click on the title of these paintings on this post, it will take you there. 

 There is a popular myth that the decision to be a homemaker will mean confinement and boredom. Some young women fear that if they choose to stay home and raise a family and guide the home, they will be locked up in their houses all day with no connection to other people.

  In reality, most homemakers find themselves on the run more than they care to be, and long for some time where they can actually be home for days on end without having to be interrupted.

To answer those concerns, here is a list of things the home maker needs to do that takes her away from the house, with suggestions for finding more time to be home.

Essential shopping:  If the family eats healthfully, the keeper of the home will naturally have to go to market to select the highest quality produce and other foods. I live further away from a town that most people, so it makes sense to store more supplies, especially in winter when one might be snowed in.

Family outings: A change of scenery is always heartening, as the home seems more interesting afterwards. Finding places to go each week can be educational and inspirational, but also enriches the time at home.  My policy has always been to go out when there is an opportunity, but always have things to do at home when it is not possible to go out.

Favorite places and events: I remember the women at home in times past, who looked forward to getting their essential housework done (wash dishes, straighten up the house, make beds--the simple things) so that they could work on another interest at home or go to a favorite place. It might be a chance to attend a free outdoor classical concert, or a new art gallery or listening to a speaker on natural health. There are really plenty of things to attend, but of course, one must limit it to what they can manage, time-wise, without neglecting the home and family.
A Corner in the Garden
by Susan Rios

Errands:  Anyone who thinks a homemaker does not get out, ought to view a list of possible errands to run: pay a bill, deposit a check, get groceries, return something to a store, stop for gas, return a library book, mail a package, stop at a garden center, feed store, pet  or home builder's supply store. With the high price of gas, most people find it more frugal to do as many things in one trip as possible. Anyone who says a homemaker is not "active in the community" has not followed her around.

Appointments: Another obligation that involves leaving the house. No, a woman is not locked up at home. Most homemakers today have their own cars and are able to come and go from the home at will. It is important, I think, to analyze the amount of time spent away from home, and possibly reduce it if the home falls into neglect.

Church:  For some people, this involves mid-week Bible study, Ladies Fellowship, and consequent social visits to those who may need attention.  Even a very small church will create enough obligations to keep a homemaker going outside the home. I've written a post on this before, where I urged homemakers not to get overly committed to church activities, lest they find themselves away from home too much and fall behind on their obligations at home. But, for those people who think a homemaker is left out of life and without significance, just watch what she does for the local church. Sometimes the homemakers do most of the internal, behind the scenes work of the church, in benevolence and care of people, in making and preparing the communion, in cleanup of the church facilities, and in teaching of young children.

Guests: Some people are kept quite busy going to the airport, bus or train station to meet guests that are going to visit for awhile. All this takes time and takes a woman outside the home. So, who says there is nothing to do and no where to go if you are a homemaker? After enjoying the guests for awhile, she then has to take them back to the airport and train station, so a great deal of her time is used. 

Visits: Keeping a list of people who need to be visited, for one reason or another will come in handy while out on other types of errands.  Again, no one need conclude that women at home are deprived of socialization, for they create their own when they give of their time to others. There must be awareness of the purpose of the visit and the careful use of time, so that the most good can be extracted from this practice and so that is is a benefit to the one visited. 

The daytime commerce is done with women from the home, as they use the quieter hours when others are confined to work in their respective offices and industries, etc.  Women at home do have more freedom to choose where they will go, and when.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Reward of Good Character in Youth

click the above link to learn more about this property.

Above you see a photo of a success story that was begun in the mind of a 14 year old boy.  The son of German immigrants, he grew up on a farm but developed a keen interest in boats. As a young man he began working in construction, observing every detail  he could to collect the knowledge to design and built boats and houses.  As a youth, he was quick to learn and  able to remember how things worked.  He never went to architecture school and did not take design courses. He wrote that his formula for success in the field of design and building was: 

"An eye for detail and beautiful shapes coupled with being familiar with the building code; a burning desire, a sharp pencil, a drawing board and enough enthusiasm to apply it."

Over the years he collected his skill for fine craftmanship and good work. His cottage was built with the following materials: the main structure is Johnson river hardwood (very hard)  Cypress pine (termite resistant) and the clading is western red cedar. 

His comments on this cottage are: "Due to the climate of the jungle-like area, other timber buildings have not held up as well.  The wall frames themselves were made of timbers from the old Townsville Harbour Board buildings which he demolished. Those timbers were over a hundred years old then and so solid each nail required pre-drilling and greasing before it would drive home. Perhaps that is a contributing factor to why it stands well."

 In his youth he  worked with a young builder for some years where all the skills in home construction were utilised. It interested him, and he was a a keen observer with the will and ability to pursue dreams.

He passed on this eagerness for adventure to his sons. One of his sons, Jesse Martin, became the youngest person to sail around the world unaided. 

My family came to know the Martins when their son Kon was only 14. He and his sisters sometimes rode 5 miles from their farm on their bicycles to visit our large, noisy family, American immigrants to Australia,  back in the late 1960's. My father was building a small boat inside a shed attached to our beach shack in Cowrie Point, Tasmania. (He allowed the older children in the family to row this skiff out to a certain point in the little cove.)  Watching this boat being built stirred in this young man the desire to create with his hands. One day that desire was brought to fruition when he used his knowledge to help his own son prepare for his journey. 

Cowrie Point, Tasmania.

All 9  members our family stayed on a beach in a tent until our parents bought a shack nestled among the other holiday homes in Cowrie Point.  As young people in a large family, we were excited about life, barely able to sleep because of the anticipation of waking up to another tint of light on this scene. When the tourists  returned home in winter, we had the solitude of the little bay and the hiking paths to ourselves. Cowrie Point was the source of a happy, carefree youth.

Beautiful View of the Ocean from Allposters

For many years I had not thought of our days in this remote place.  Perhaps at one time I considered them quite trivial, but as the world changes, I know that they were not trivial at all, but hugely significant. They were certainly important in the life of the Martin family who visited our family often, hiked with us, sang with us, worshipped in our home, ate with us and boated with us.  Mr. Martin recently claimed that our family, the McGaughey clan, was a highlight in his family, and particularly for him. Our own resourcefulness and innovativeness created a deep impression on his young, yearning mind.

 Kon Martin is one of those people whose youth launched his journey to success.  He began his career with good work habits and careful attention to detail. His capital was his good principles and his hands, eager to work.

This all brings to my  mind some simple ingredients a parent can provide for children, so that they may love life and see good days. (1st Peter 3:10) While not every  parent will have the desire for adventure in distant lands, there are some basic elements that can help children develop excellence in character and maturity.

Abundant experience in God's Creation.  Fresh air combined with the sights and sounds of God's earth can be a great inspiration to young people. Parents will never regret the sacrifice it takes to instill an understanding of God's presence in their children, pointing out the beauties of nature and a proper response to it. Looking in the distance at miles and miles of scenery is good for a young person's mind and gets them to focus on something beyond themselves, raising them up to a higher level of thinking.  Young people need to be guided away from the tendency to be morose or jaded.  Regular sight-seeing can make someone feel like a new person, as they become aware of the presence of someone greater than themself.

  One family I know took their children somewhere every year so that they could experience a few days in every setting, from the sea to the mountains. Though grown now, their children still remember these days with wonder.  One of the most precious gifts parents can give their children is a youthful, optimistic attitude towards daily life and toward the future. Experiencing a variety of the creation seems to be connected with a hopeful outlook on life.

Freedom with adequate restraint. To be able to view a vast expanse of sky, sea, land or forest can give a young person a feeling of true freedom, as opposed to the counterfeit freedom associated with social license which brings many a pang to youth and embeds bitter memories in their minds.  This natural  freedom in its most wholesome aspect is essential in the development of intelligence and faith in young people. 

Provide a fulfilling social life. Young people enjoy one another's company, but it will be more memorable if not encumbered with the guilt that comes from unrestrained activity. While laughing and "having fun", youth should be reminded of the continual presence of the God in their midst. The respect and responsibility this provides will assuredly prevent heedless, careless and dangerous behavior and bitter memories of moral failure.

 While some families may need to be cautious about undesirable social activities, I believe God provides friendship from compatible young people. It was certainly true in our case.  Our parents encouraged us to be sociable with other children from families they also enjoyed, and even invited these families to our home to provide us with good companions who were from families with similar values as ours.

 While the Martin parents enjoyed visiting with my parents in the house, their children and the children in our family enjoyed each other's company out on the porch  or on the nearby farm.   Our two families shared similar enough spiritual values, that the parents thought it was appropriate and desireable that we should fellowship together. Much of our activities were done without our parents involvement, but we were all accountable to them and shared the restraint that was bred into each of us.

I have one clear memory of us all sitting outside on the Martin farm hay stacks singing the old hymn, "Blessed Assurance."  The Martin children then sang it back to us in German. 

Creativity with training and example.  There is a modern belief that creativity just "comes" to an individual who already "has talent,"  but many people can  be shown how to do things. Young people in a family can find art instruction and building instruction to add to their knowledge and enjoyment of life.  Thinking that a person is either creative or not creative,  sometimes parents can neglect to plant a seed of interest here and there. Parents of previous generations  introduced their children  to many wholesome creative things,  from painting to construction. 

Creativity has to be guided by reason and knowledge, as well as an awareness of the creative power of God. Observation and experimentation are good tools in the use of creativity. Do not expect that every child will understand these things. Some children will not be able to make anything but a useless mess, unless they are taught and guided. Many people who thought they had no artistic talent or no mechanical "talent" have learned by following instruction.

Add good principles and a love of work  Asked when he will retire, a man replies, "My work is my hobby and I love what I am doing."  Teach young people to do their best and they will love their work. Teach them not to despise work.  Thayer, a 19th century author, wrote in "Gaining Favor With God and Man"* that anyone who felt their work beneath them, would always sink below it.  Work lifts the spirit of a boy or girl to experience the exhilaration of climbing to the top of a hill. "A panorama of indescribable beauty and grandeur spreads out before the toiler. There is nothing like it in the valley below."

"Good principle and good manners were all the capital I had to start with," said one man, and it was all the capital he needed, as his successful  career proved. (A Good Start, Chapter 19 of Gaining Favor With God and Man by  William Makepeace Thayer1820 -1898)

Some things may not seem valuable at the time of youth, but one day when hard times come, a person will be able to find relief in the memories of a happy, carefree time when burdens were few and life seemed like one long, golden summer.  The Bible says to enjoy the Creator in the days of your youth, before the hard times come, when you shall say you have no pleasure in those days. (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

Naturally, there are many things to consider when your children begin to grow up, and many cautions to exercise, but these few pointers illustrate that youth need not be wasted, and yet it need not be difficult. Some young people seem rather unpromising but possess great potential, which can be developed by giving them plenty of opportunity to think  and create.

*Gaining Favor With God and Man, when read aloud, can make your children's eyes light up, as they hear expressions about youth that reflect the questions and thoughts they may already be thinking. There are chapters that deal with the restlessness of youth and how to temper it with good judgement. The author wrote as though from inside the mind of a young person who was wanting to know how to think and how to handle life.   I would highly recommend this book, but especially as read-aloud human-interest lessons. Along with the book of Proverbs, this can be invaluable as your children reach young adulthood.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Banjo

This is the same young woman, a friend of mine,  who played the harp in the previous post. She also plays the banjo.


This is a piece that a dear friend, played on her harp and posted on youtube. I hope you enjoy it. It was also added to my playlist at the top of the list.

Little Altered Box

The Beach 
by Alfred Victor Fournier,  1872-1924

A child asked me to make a drawing book, and so I looked into my collection of empty boxes and found this. Sometimes friends give me interesting boxes, as I often buy in bulk and don't get the packaging, so you see below the box I have acquired. A fruit pectin box will work, as well.
After cutting the flaps off both ends of this box, cut out one of the narrow ends and open it up so that it looks like a book.

Slide the hand-held hole puncher as far as it will go on each end of the "spine" and punch a hole.
Trace the box on whatever paper you choose by rolling it along the paper folded up and tracing each side. The paper cover will not fit the box if you trace the box when it is flat, because there is extra space on the folded edges.

Cut about a half inch larger around the traced box so that the edges can be folded over, as you will see later.  Swirl glue all over it. The glue sticks work best, as the white liquid glue is too wet and makes it wrinkle.
For end-papers on the inside, trace the box flat and cut about a fourth inch shorter all around. 

Trace on paper of your choice for the inside pages of the book. 12 pages ought to do, but you can make less. Then stack them and cut about half inch smaller all around. Center the papers and lay the box on top to punch new holes through the already punched holes.

Fold the edges in and glue down, and then paste the end paper over, trimming it shorter if necessary.  Re-punch the holes through the paper, with the original holes as the guide.

Assemble the pages inside the book, centering them and punching the holes, using the holes in the book back as a guide. Twist one end of wired ribbon and bring it up from the back of the book to the inside, and into the other hole to the back of the book again. I would recommend using wired ribbon from dollar stores instead of fabric stores.  Trim the pages if they are larger than the book cover.

Form the ribbon into a bow on the outside along the spine of the book.

Depending on what kind of pattern is on the outside cover, you can decorate it  with stickers or clip art to match. This was plain white construction paper so I added paper and cloth butterflies.
Now you have a little book to draw in, and this is what
the inside looks like with the end papers.

Now that you see how this was done, you might find yourself looking at throw-away boxes a little differently, imagining which way to turn it to make a book.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

First Day of Spring

This is what came the first day of spring, covering the pink blossoms on the trees.

The blue spruce looks great with a bit of white powder, and there are some willows bending over with the weight of the snow.

These are holly trees and a large old maple.

Here is a simple creative way of potting a flowering plant. I've taken some primroses from my garden and put them in these waterproof containers to make colorful favors for ladies Bible classes, or other occasions. If you have no cards you want to part with, use new ones that you buy in packages of 8 or 12 from dollar stores and craft stores.

The containers are any plastic boxes similar to the ones that contain unsweetened baking cocoa. There are quite a few grocery items pack in waterproof containers, as you might notice from looking in your pantry.

Remove the lable and trace the container on to the blank side of scrapbook paper, wrapping paper or a greeting card.

Deckle edged scissors can be used to trim the card to fit, and you can fill in the back with other scraps of cards or paper. Cards or paper sticks well with white glue or tacky glue. I prefer Elmer's white glue. (Dollar store white glue seems to be too wet for craft projects.) Paint white glue  or decoupage glue on the outside with a sponge brush to make the card or paper more durable. 

 Put a few rocks in the container for drainage, and add  a plant from your garden or purchased from a garden center. If you like, you can add a ribbon around the box, and set it on the lid. This makes a good accent piece for a small side table, a desk, your mantel or kitchen sill.
Here is another one done with a left over piece
of pre-pasted wall-border. Just dip it in water and it will

I will be giving this one away.

Not home made, but just as enjoyable, are these little water pitchers found at Dollar Tree for one dollar. They  come in light blue, green, yellow and coral.  

Put outdoor plants in them for front porch gifts, or a dining table centerpiece.

Here is another frugal idea. For many years I had spare "lefties" from my pair of rubber gloves, as the "rightie" always got a hole in it. I considered advertising for spare "rights" from left-handed dish washers, but finally got this idea. So far, it is working.  I buy two pairs of rubber gloves, one larger than the other. I put the lower quality, cheaper glove (yellow) inside the larger glove (purple or pink Playtex brand).  So far, it has been a month, and no holes. Not only that, but there is no feeling of heat through these gloves and I can use really hot water. I do have a dish washer, but end up washing many different kinds of dishes, such as tea cups, pots and pans with handles that are not dishwasher safe, or different kinds of bakeware.  I hope to update this with a report of the first leak in these gloves.  I enjoy not running to the store to get a new pair of gloves.