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Dusting Off The Old Sewing Machine Out of Necessity

I am wondering how many of you are like me and have begun trying to find outfits online during the COVID pandemic.

To say challenging is an understatement. I once was able to go to a store and try on an outfit before purchasing. This is how I truly knew if I liked the way it would fit and look on me not just the cuteness factor on the hanger. Through the last 18 months, the stores haven’t allowed you to try things on. We have to take them home and bring them back if they don’t suit or fit. That inevitably means another trip to the store which was a hassle the first time. I confess to buying some items online to avoid making multiple trips to stores and to give me a pick me up with a new purchase.

I like to know what the feel of the fabric is like. I like cotton in particular because it is cool and looks classy. I have been disappointed to say the least with my online purchases. Most things that are sold are rayon, polyester or blends. I didn’t like it in the 70’s and I don’t like it now. However, it seems that it packs well with few wrinkles and cheaply can be shipped because it is lightweight. Yet, it is not appealing when I try it on.

I try to look modern with some updated patterns and designs. The models always look amazing online. I am careful to pick more conservative styles yet I still am unimpressed when I receive items in the mail. This makes two dresses now that I have received that look like a tent is missing from the circus even though I tried to pick a form-slimming design.

Returning items by mail is also a hassle I hope to avoid plus I don’t like to admit to defeat. So what can I do? I am trying to refashion my purchases in a way that I can wear them with some sense of overall satisfaction. This means having to sew. I haven’t tried to sew much clothing in years. I remember making a peasant top in junior high school for my home economics class. It turned out pretty well as it was very basic. We were not taught much in the way of how to make alterations to make things fit better. This is a whole new experience for me. It doesn’t seem hard to cut a shape as we used to for patterns. I could use clothing I already own for the basic template then sewing a basic line is easy enough. I have decided I might as well give it a try.

The first shift I received was too wide with pockets and too long. I have cut down the sides and the bottom to a more rectangular shape and less of an a shape. The second shift-tent will be turned into a tunic top as it was way too wide and a-framed again as a dress.

I am not as petite as I used to be but am definitely not ready to look like I am wearing a housecoat from Mama’s Family.

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God’s Construction Zone

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I was young and not yet three,

I had a date with destiny,

I was struck on some ice by a sliding car,

Not hearing them shout “Stay put where you are,”

My mother shrieked and the police came quick,

Rescuing me where the road was slick,

I was rushed for care to my wounded head,

My father was crazed thinking I was dead,

I got stitched where the blood soaked wet,

It seemed that God was not through with me yet.

That was long ago,

I have scars that remain,

I have had other hurts that have caused other pain,

There are other occasions as life has gone by,

Yet my God still reminds me, “Hold on, you must try.

I still want to use you.

There’s a goal still unmet.”

It must be because He is not through with me yet.

Susanne Kessaris

May 16, 2021

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Adding Pops of Color To My Garden

This is the second gardening season at my new house. I am still working on the bones, so to speak,of my garden. It is helpful to get familiar with sunny and shady spots in your yard as well as challenging soil conditions. I am beginning to learn this about my new yard.

We began with some basic foundational plants last year. Now, I am ready to add some pops of color. I love yellow and chartreuse colored plants. I think they brighten up a bed significantly. I have been scouring the gardening centers for several weeks. I am finally beginning to see plants with interesting variations in yellow. Most of the plants I have found have partial sun requirements which is good for my yard where I have lots of trees and shady areas. Sometimes you will be successful by experimenting and stretching the recommended requirements just a bit.

Creeping Jenny

I have a few yellow to chartreuse plants already in my yard. I brought some Creeping Jenny from my last yard. I planted some Sunshine Ligustrum beside the house and some Lemon Coral Sedum by the front walkway last fall. I added some yellow heuchera to the front bed. The last few weeks I have been scouring the gardening centers for new plants with yellow foliage. I found dwarf Gold Mop Cypress, False Holly Goshiki, and Miss Lemon Abelia at Home Depot. I have been making bi- weekly visits as their spring shipments have been coming in. I found some variegated sweet flag at a center in an adjoining town.

Lemon Coral Sedum
Miss Lemon Abelia
False Holly Goshiki

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Creative Gardening Part Two

In addition to recruiting younger family members to dig holes, there are other ways to make gardening tasks easier as we age. I could try to use an auger to dig holes in the ground for my plants. Yet, I admit to being afraid of using power tools and risking the chance of hurting myself.

Another option is to do more gardening in flower pots. I love to watch gardening videos on Youtube. One of my faves is Linda Vater in Oklahoma. She is the queen of the topiary garden. I saw her human sized cut out at Lowes the other day while I was perusing the garden department. She must have a new contract working with them to promote their products. I have begun experimenting with this hobby but it takes months and even years to get the wanted results from cutting and trimming a plant to get the perfect conical or ball shape.

Gardening requires patience and for those of us beginning a new garden at an older age, it is frustrating if we want an instant garden. It is also expensive and backbreaking to purchase fully developed specimens of plants or to hire out a landscaper to create the perfect design at the onset.

I am trying to be patient and let my garden evolve slowly. To save money and my back I have begun to propagate plants myself. I have begun purchasing bulbs at the garden center to start growing them earlier indoors before the next growing season. The only drawback is lack of space for a greenhouse or lack of the right growing conditions to have success. For now, I have set up a potting bench that my husband got me for Christmas inside the garage next to a window. Hopefully my plants will get enough sun and warmth to begin to emerge from their dormant state. It is just a start but will keep you posted on the progress.

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Creative Gardening After 60

And just like that, I am 60. I don’t know how it happened but I am officially “older” than the dirt. My mind still thinks I am 40 but my body wants to slow me down. It is frustrating but I am determined to stay active and continue to do the things I love.

One of my favorite hobbies is gardening. At the first sign of spring, you can find me puttering around in my yard spying emerging bulbs as they poke through the soil. I begin making a stash of plants to set out in a corner of the garage. I take frequent trips to the garden center to find new and unusual varieties of plants with interesting flowers and foliage.

I still envision a beautifully, manicured garden oasis. Slowly,… slower than last year, it is coming along. I used to very ambitiously pick out trees, shrubs and plants in 3 gallon sized pots and haul them home in the back of my SUV then plant them myself. Those days are gone. Now, I seek plants in 1 gallon pots. My selection is becoming more limited. I find flowers and perennials in smaller sizes but it is becoming more difficult to find shrubs or trees in that size container.

I have begun recruiting my thirty-something aged children to do gardening projects for me. If they want to know what Mom wants for her birthday, Christmas or Mother’s Day I usually say I don’t need a thing but sure could use their time to help me when it is time to do some gardening. It would be great if I could ask for a honey-do coupon to save for sometime in the year when I need a hole dug in the yard.

Last weekend, the weather was warm enough for one such project that I have been asking about for quite some time. My daughter was willing to dig two holes since the ground was soft from all the rain we have had this winter.

I found two Black Diamond crepe myrtles for our new yard, last spring. They have been sitting in their nursery pots for almost a year now. The leaves have not come out yet and I am not quite sure they are even still alive. I did the scrape test and found some green inside a twig which is usually a sign of life.

I am proud to say that they have now been planted. I am thrilled and can’t wait to see them come back to life. I am like a proud new mama! I check on my babies often, nurturing them along by watering and feeding them as they grow and develop.

I may be getting older but still feel young as long as I can take part in gardening with all its therapeutic and creative attributes.

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Finding Refuge Under His Wings

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you will his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

While running errands yesterday, I was at a stop light near my home. The sky was cloudy as some rains had passed through the area earlier in the day. I noticed some unusual cloud formations. I took a photo while sitting there. Usually, on a cell phone the image is too small or dark to be clearly visible. I came home and downloaded it on my computer. Here is the image. It is obvious that it was the shape of wings. I immediately was reminded of the passage in Psalm 91.

I was encouraged by God to keep looking upward, to keep trusting and hoping in Him. In this world, there is so much that makes me sad and disheartened yet there is a place where I find refuge. I experience His peace, love and joy under His wings while resting in His presence. He is there for those who will call upon Him, asking Jesus to be the savior of their life.

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New Years Resolutions for 2021

Losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more, saving more….these are typical resolutions in an average year as we turn over a new calendar. However, after living through and surviving 2020, making such changes don’t seem quite as pressing. They are things of a physical nature. While we all want to continue to be healthy and keep saving for the future, our concerns should shift to our mental and spiritual state as we continue to battle the pandemic and changes in our country as a result of the presidential election outcomes. I think praying more, reading more of the bible and putting scripture to memory should be at the top of the list.

One of the most treasured gifts I received for Christmas was a jar filled with scripture verses. It is a jar of blessing. I could choose special moments to read the verses, like when I am feeling down or need a bit of encouragement. I decided to end 2020 and start the new year off by reading a verse a day and putting those verses to memory. I began by reading slowly and meditating on a verse each day. You know what is amazing? The first three verses that I removed from the jar were about the steadfast love of God? It is no coincidence as I know that God is speaking to me about remaining unwaivering in my faith no matter what 2021 holds. I hope these verses are an encouragement to you and inspire you to press more into God throughout the next year whatever we face.

Psalm 33:4-5 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 52:8-9 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

Psalm 33: 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.

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