Wednesday, February 29, 2012

{So}Sartina: Vintage Alphabet Letter Necklaces

I made this for myself the other day....just because I can. *grin*

If you want, I'll make one for you too! (With your initial, and in your choice of color, of course!) I love the vintage letter, and the color just begs for spring, doesn't it? I must be in denial, because look at the window views from my desk:

Minnesota finally got a bit of ice and snow, canceling many schools in our area. My (home-schooled) kids believe they are entitled to a snow day too, but they think Valentine's Day is a holiday that requires a vacation day! Even so, I think we'll take it slow and enjoy the snow.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beyond Imagining: Remember the Deer {Pt 3}

If you are just now finding this series, please jump back and read, Beyond Imagining: When God is Late(r){Pt1} and Beyond Imagining: Quitting Church{Pt 2}

This is the story of our year where I chronicle our journey through unemployment and the faithfulness of a good God that is beyond imagining. 


We were still waiting. Waiting for direction. Waiting for opportunities. Waiting for a job. We tried to settle into a routine while waiting.

Robb busied himself running and staying fit. He joked, "I can't run away, but I can run!" He ran up to 12 miles a day. The winter was mild, and he cherished the beauty of the long trails and the time of solitude with God.

I continued homeschooling, and began designing new products for my Etsy shop, (So)Sartina. Sewing filled my time and gave me a sense of purpose, and as Christmas approached, my shop was steadily busy.

Our year had other highlights, too. I think God knew we needed bits of reprieve from the discouragement we felt. A vacation to Mexico (a gift), my youngest sister's wedding, family camp and camping, gatherings with friends, the birth of a nephew: all were sources of joy in a life that felt put on pause.

We had an overabundance of family time. We drove each other a bit crazy too. :) But God was with us, reminding us of His themes in our lives.

One of those themes was illustrated by an experience Robb had on his first hunting trip last fall. Now, months later, we kept hearing, "Remember the deer. Remember the deer," as if on repeat in our minds and hearts. When we went down to En Gedi for quiet and Bible study,  there was the physical evidence staring at us, driving the point home yet again, "Remember the deer."

Many Old Testament stories foreshadow New Testament events, and we felt God was perhaps doing something similar in our own lives. We knew what "Remember the deer" meant in the context of Robb's heart and the lesson he learned that day hunting; God delights in giving us good gifts if we will listen and trust and obey. That his gifts provide inner healing and build our faith was illustrated quite clearly.

But what did "Remember the deer" mean as we looked ahead? How did a past gift apply to our current situation? We listened and watched and tried to be content knowing God was up to something.

In the middle of November, a friend sent Robb a job listing, saying simply, "This is for you." The job description seemed too good to be true. It fit Robb's personality and experience to a T. The commute was a pleasant distance and we were more than familiar with the institution; we met and married there. It was our alma mater.

Robb quickly sent in his resume. And so began more waiting.

We had never considered working there before, but the more we thought about it, our anticipation grew. Not only was the job perfect for Robb, it seemed the previous few years had prepared him for this position specifically. It made "Remember the deer" make sense in that the job would not only meet our monetary need, but also the longing for his specific gifts to be valued. In addition, Crown College is a community of believers, and he was excited at the possibility of working in that type of environment again.

We had it all worked out in our heads, but we couldn't know for sure; was this God's answer to our waiting? As Robb ran long beautiful wooded paths and pondered the life path we were pursuing, the number of applicants he was up against, and the likelihood of getting the position, we wondered, was this God's  path for us?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pinterest:Tried and (Mostly) Approved {2}

1.} Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I will never buy another granola bar again. My kids LOVE them! Easy, fast. These actually stay together. This recipe gets a 10 on taste. They definitely are not low cal, but there's no HFCS or other mysterious ingredient, and the cost is superbly low! For a lower calorie snack, cut them smaller! That's what food manufacturers seem to do!

Notice the last point! lol! Vanilla has never gotten such a bad rap!

I switched it up for myself by doubling the recipe and using 2 cups rice krispies, 2 cups oats and 2 cups of my homemade granola. This has a nuttier, fruitier taste. Mmmmmm.

To calculate calories for your own recipes go here.

Washing my hands is as close to a spa treatment as I get, so it's no wonder I love the fancy smelling liquid hand soaps.  Lemon Verbena, Lavender, Coffee Mint, Almond. I just can't go back to the cheap stuff, and now there's no need!! I paid $1.50 for a bar of natural lavender soap from our natural grocer which will make one gallon of liquid soap. That's even less pennies than the cheap gallon at Sam's Club!

Note: I do not risk my knuckles on a hand grater, I go food processor all the way! 

3.} Shower Cleaner

This one I was not impressed with. The original recipe I followed called for equal parts hot vinegar and Blue Dawn dish soap. The first mistake I made was pouring my hot vinegar into a sprayer just like the one shown below.

It promptly melted.

Optimistically assuming that would be the only thing to go wrong with my cleaning project, I began spraying the thick blue concoction all over the shower. If I would have thought about it before I tried it, I would have realized that was way too much soap. It took forever and a day to get all the suds rinsed off the shower doors.

I was soaking wet by the time my shower was clean.

I think the effectiveness of this recipe is based on how much rubbing and rinsing is needed to rid the shower of bubbles.

4.} Button Bib Necklace

This one, I actually made at a community Project Night sponsored by all the cute little shops of Waconia.

I received lots of compliments on it when at the Project Night, but I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to actually wear it in public....

My version:

What have you found on Pinterest lately?

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

{So}Sartina Introduces: Silk Rose Bib Necklace {+Tutorial}

Have you been browsing Pinterest since last week? I have! And looky what I found:

This rose bib necklace is Anthropology inspired, which means, I suppose, it is high fashion, but I'm thinking I must not know anyone high fashion; I have yet to see one of these worn in public.

Or maybe I just need to get in to the city more!

Here is the second design option as given on the site:

I think I like the second better. But I made neither. I have quite a few silk roses in my possession, so I quick whipped up a few of my own designs:


These are reasonably simple to assemble once you master making flowers. I have my own special method of making my signature {So}Sartina roses. I'm not sharing my design today, not because it's a company secret, but because my method is my own and really can't be duplicated. It's much too random for that!

However, I have found a couple sites linking to nearly a hundred rose and flower tutorials. That is probably overkill, but I like options, and giving them! Oopsie Daisy and Kojo Designs have already done the difficult work of compiling these, so head on over there!

Also, this site has a great tutorial for making flowers out of old Tshirts. Definitely my favorite idea! That pattern would turn out like this one:

Once you've chosen a style of rose to use, and have a few done,  you need to cut out a piece of felt or fabric to hold it all together: Right click on the photo below and save the picture to your computer for a pattern. Or just eyeball it. :) When printed, that 6 inch line should be....six inches. Rocket science, this is not!

Arrange the roses on the felt crescent and hot glue the whole pretty mess together.  The easiest way to do this is to lay the felt on a working surface, apply hot glue to a third of it and press the rose into the hot glue. Repeat for remaining flowers.

Once everything is attached and glued, trim any excess felt that may be peeking out from behind the roses.

There are two ways to accomplish the next step. The chain can be cut and glued to the ends, or you can do as I did. I used three mini safety pins and saved my chain so it can be swapped out and worn with something else too.

In Summary, these are the materials needed:

  • Fabric and supplies for roses (based on the tutorial you choose)
  • Felt or fabric for crescent backing
  • Glue gun
  • Hot glue
  • Necklace
  • Safety pins (optional)
As long as I'm giving away secrets of how I make things around here, I may as well spill another one:

I now carry Silk Rose Bib Necklaces in my shop!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beyond Imagining: Quitting Church (Pt 2)

If you are just now finding this series, please jump back and read Part 1, Beyond Imagining: When God is Late(r).

This is the story of our year where I chronicle our journey through unemployment, a few of our detours along the way,  and the faithfulness of a good God that is beyond imagining.

It was about this time Robb quit attending church. His timing couldn't have been worse. I had just completed my service on the pastoral search committee and our new pastor soon moved a couple country blocks from our house. Robb helped move them in but was curiously missing on Sundays.

Emotionally, this was a bigger blow to me than our financial situation. I felt kicked in the kidney when I was already down for the count. What next? Irrational fears plagued me, and there was more conflict in our marriage over this issue than I can recall for years.

I felt conspicuous, sitting alone in church. The only time I had ever experienced this before was when Robb was engrossed in church service, running the whole show. I feared what conclusions were being jumped to by those sitting behind and around me. This wasn't who I ever wanted to be, the lone parent taking her kids to church. The first Sunday going alone, I sobbed on an elder's shoulder.

The truth was, Robb's heart could not feel or hear God at church. He loved the people, and did not avoid the community as a whole, but stayed home on Sundays to study on his own. He read church history, researching the early church and asking questions. How did the early church function? What is a believer's purpose within it? How do I apply that to the modern church, and what does that ideally look like? Does the corporate church even value what I have to offer?

He pondered his previous service within the church and his subsequent break from any type of church leadership. Our church had just experienced a tumultuous year, and as one of  those who laid the foundation of the organization, he wondered if he was in some way responsible. It was a productive time for him, even as I reluctantly traipsed the rest of the family to church alone. I felt a spiritual division between us, and though I knew my husband was seeking God and hearing Him, I still felt uneasy.
We tried attending a different church together. We stayed home a few weeks to watch online sermons as a family.  We argued points on the definitions of organic church and corporate church. We thought about the benefits of regularly attending church, as opposed to the pain we have seen church politics and its people cause. We discussed the correlation between service and how connected and valued one feels to the community. Around in circles we talked, never getting anywhere.

It didn't take long and the stress of our financial situation and the emotional anxiety I felt about our church conflict began to take its toll on me physically. I had plenty of reasons to be struggling with anxiety, but I soon discovered another cause. My  hypothyroidism was being over-corrected, adding to or causing my symptoms, we are still not sure. I was jittery, tense, often dizzy, emotional.

I cried out (sobbing) to the Lord many times, Lord. It's too much. I can't take any more. I know there are people facing much worse, but I am weak. I don't like this situation. My body doesn't like this stress. I'm tired. Haven't I been through enough?

I pleaded with God to DO something. Fix it.

Finally, I broke down one evening in front of Robb and our girls.

Robb returned to Living Rock the following Sunday, at first for the emotional benefit of me and our kids. Even as he continued to sort out his feelings about church, his presence with me on Sundays was comforting.

We were still waiting for leads on the job front, and were facing many unknowns, but I began to feel more was right with my world.

No matter our philosophizing about an ideal community of believers, Living Rock is OUR family, one we helped create, and invested deeply for years. We realize there are many amazing churches not a great distance away, but there is something so practical about attending a local church; community happens best when its participants are not spread far and wide geographically. In addition, meeting weekly, at a set time, in a set place, adds valuable stability and structure to a body of believers.

There are many books on this topic from varying viewpoints. We have read some of them.
But to be honest, we never came to a complete resolution. We didn't find perfect answers to our questions.

We do know this: the people of Living Rock Church make it our home.


Next week - Beyond Imagining: Remember the Deer (Pt 3)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pinterest: Tried and Approved {1}

Have you joined the rest of the world on Pinterest yet? Or are you one that has been holding out, stubborn to join the hoards of obsessed idea shoppers?

Based on the new follower notifications in my inbox, people are still flocking to be counted among the Pinterest population. Whichever category you fall into, the actual amount of ideas, recipes, photos, and tips can be overwhelming. I am going to highlight a few things I've seen and tried and let you know how they turned out in real life. As I've found, just because a pretty picture shows up at the top of the Pinterest page, doesn't mean anyone has actually tried it yet!

1.  Banana, Peanut Butter, Cocoa "Ice Cream."

Yum! My kids declared I should make it every day! It's smooth and creamy, with strong banana flavor. I'm not fond of peanut butter, but this flavor is great! You don't have to feel guilty when indulging on this dessert!

2. Car Garbage

Please tell me your family vehicle needed this as much as mine. Ugh. I have a tendency to use the door pockets for my trash, but they are rather tricky to clean out. Wrappers and whatnot now have a better place to go, but I have found having this sit within arms reach of your 8 year old does not guarantee she won't still throw her sandwich crusts on the floor of the van, wait days for them to dry and then stomp them into a crumbly mess. This great idea only solved my half of the problem!

3. Flat Iron Ironing

I laughed when I saw this, because I've totally done this before! And here I thought I was so clever!

This "method" is especially useful when a slightly wrinkled shirt will be hidden under a sweater, but the hem still needs pressing. Hauling out the ironing board and fetching the iron from who-knows-where, (in my case the {So}Sartina studio) isn't necessary. I just whip out the flat iron, let it heat while I freshen my face, and apply the hot plates to my hem. Viola! What a sneaky trick!

4. Homemade Eye Makeup Remover

This one might have changed my life. Ok, so not really, but it has the potential to save me a bundle. I made up a small recipe of this, adding a little extra baby oil. I found it to be less effective on waterproof mascara than the Mary Kay brand, but at least as effective as the Physicians Formula brand. That's good enough for me! I reused my old Mary Kay bottle and almost don't even notice the difference!

What have you found on Pinterest and tried for yourself?

If you don't yet:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

{So}Sartina: New(ish) in Necklaces

Have you taken a peek at my Etsy shop lately?

I'm lovin' these new leather cords and trays that I added to my inventory recently! I opened up the package and the smell of leather immediately overcame me. Swoon. 

They open up new design possibilities, and who doesn't love new possibilities! Only a few designs are for sale in my shop, but any available design can put in a tray.

Even the back is pretty!

The woodcut owl up there is new too! I found him on a delightful website full of free patterns and pictures. He's from an 1832 German spelling book! If you like his vintage look, but aren't crazy about owls like the rest of the world, I have a pelican, rooster, deer, bird and quite a few other animals too!

Another awesome tidbit: the pictures are Photoshop files I designed, so phrases are interchangeable between designs.  For that matter, have me design a custom necklace with your own favorite phrase, scripture, flower. The possibilities are endless! Send me note via my shop and I'll get to work on a perfect piece for you!

This design was one made by special request and it has since become a popular item in my shop.  Custom requests are good for you and me!

That makes what I do at {So}Sartina super fun!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beyond Imagining: When God is Late(r) (Pt 1)

We still pinch ourselves.

Most of you know our good news by now, but I need to save these thoughts, express some things here in this place gone recently silent.  I easily forget, like the Israelites and all peoples before and after; my soul, my faith have amnesia. I feel a responsibility to document the faithfulness of God toward us.

I finally have something to say.

Once I started telling our story, the events and emotions of the year poured out of my heart. My original post became so long, I have decided to split it into half a dozen chapters.

Just as I side note, I would like you to know Robb has read and approved my documentation of events, and has even pointed his friends in the direction of this site, as he says I express it best. This is our story, and he has been involved in forming it for you.

What is our good news?

Our waiting is over.

For what were we waiting? A job. Purpose. Direction. An end to the standstill we felt. Hope fulfilled.


Last year, my Christmas card included this verse:
 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13
Circumstances the previous few months had required hope, for the present and the future. Our family's struggle to find work that would provide for our needs, when combined with those of close friends facing their own worst fears, threatened to steal all hope, peace and joy.  I knew that the year ahead would require power other than my own.

Over the next months, I frequently came back to this verse, asking against all odds and emotions that were conspiring against my faith, for the Lord to give me joy and peace as I chose to trust Him, for myself and those hurting that surrounded me.

I cannot claim that I always "overflowed" with hope. Yet hope lingered, at times as small as the proverbial mustard seed. Still, I did not give up all hope. That seemed acceptable, given our circumstances, as even a mustard seed faith is sufficient to move mountains.

We lurched along, month by month, pursuing opportunities as they came. Odd and under-productive jobs, and other provisions challenged our self-sufficient pride. We were self-made entrepreneurs, fallen to dependence on others.

We were miserable.

We were waiting to see how God would make sense of it all.

In April I wrote When God Seems Late.

The next month we applied for "unemployment." Thus began our education on government programs. Honestly, it was a valuable experience, and the paperwork a full-time job. I joked that we were finally benefiting from the taxes we had paid over the years as business owners. When we visited the doctor, we no longer had to pay full price like we had for years prior as the uninsured-by-choice.Our dentist visits were free. Great, right?

In reality, it sucked.

Robb sold a couple houses with his realtor license, and that was encouraging, but it wasn't enough.  He applied at multiple staffing agencies and got positive feedback, but over the next few months heard nothing. We jumped through all the hoops to start an in-home daycare, and again, nothing.

Autumn came. Time and available money was about to run out. 

Where was God? It seemed He was not only late.

He had stood us up.


Next week: Beyond Imagining: Quitting Church (Pt 2)