(From the Archives) A Handmade Life–Sewing For The Kitchen

This is part 2 of the “Handmade Life” series here at Sunny Patch.  Today’s post involves sewing and creating for your home.

Sewing seems to be an art that is coming back to life as things become more and more expensive commercially.  The quality of factory made things really seems to be heading down hill, and as soon as you purchase a piece of clothing or fabric based item, it needs mending or ravels or rips.  Sure, there’s folks who will never get beyond the stigma of “homemade” items, but for the rest of the world who appreciates quality, a hand made high quality item is much better than the factory made.

This brings us to sewing for the home.

There’s many things in the home that are made of fabric that we can make ourselves.  Think about what you use in the kitchen: potholders, apron, tea or dish towels, dish cloths, curtains/valances, etc.  This is opportunity to not only save on expense, but also create a kitchen that suits your personality.

Today I’m focusing on potholders and aprons.

For the seamstress, making a potholder is probably one of the simplest projects one can do.  In it’s simplest form, a potholder is batting or some sort of filler sandwiched between 2 pieces of fabric and stitched together.  Of course this can be embellished, patched, made with just about any non-melting fabrics (second and third degree potholder burns just don’t sound too appealing, so use your cool polyesters for other projects).

Tipnut has a page of around 30 patterns just for potholders (free, I might add).  So why not whip out some scraps or fat quarters and try a couple of patterns out.   If you enjoy crocheting and/or knitting, this is a great time to break out some cool stitches and make your own potholders too!  I like to make mine double thickness, using 2 strands of medium weight yarn and crochet.  🙂

Aprons are also a wonderful cost effective items to sew for your kitchen.  Think about it–cooking can be messy.  If it isn’t in your kitchen..are you enjoying what you’re doing????  LOL!  I love my aprons, and really need to add more to my collection.  My son Mr. Kevin has inherited a more “manly” one to use when he helps me in the kitchen (he’s my little cook in training–he has helped make pizza from scratch, and then here recently helped make cinnamon biscuits with Christmas cookie cutters).  His apron gets flour all over it in under a second…perfect reason for him to inherit one. 🙂

Aprons are really easy to make.  Seriously.

At it’s simplest, it’s a square with ties to go around the waist.  At the more complex, it’s a fully covering garment that is as pretty as a beautiful dress.  But, the overall idea is the same–to keep the clothing underneath from getting dirty and stained up from working in the kitchen.

My own aprons are a bit complex.  I use pieces from the Country Cape Dress by Candle on the Hill to build mine.  I use the cape part of the dress and half of the skirt, add ties and a snap and have a fully covering apron.  Ok, it’s a little time consuming, but it works out for my purposes.  I follow directions similar to the ones found at Shepherds Hill with modifications to tie in the back.

Wearing these, I honestly feel more feminine, as well as tend to get more work done.  To me, this is a uniform.  My job is to tend the house and work in the kitchen, why not have a uniform that goes along with that?  I also tend to put an apron on first thing in the morning, and use it through out the day.  It helps open up the oven and in a pinch when I can’t find the potholders it becomes the potholder.  It keeps my clothes from getting totally soaked when doing the daily wash on the washboard and then doing dishes at the sink.  It keeps my handmade clothing from getting stained up and covered in sauces and flour and cooking sprays when I cook our meals.  And it makes a great hand towel when I can’t easily grab one and need it quickly to dry hands and catch the phone or help that child who has to have mom right now.  In the garden during the spring and summer it becomes a make shift basket to hold freshly picked veggies.

The kids see me in my apron, and they seem more at ease.  It’s like a comfort thing for them.  They also know mom isn’t going anywhere when her apron’s on.  They wait and watch for the apron to come off to see where I’m going…like maybe somewhere cool like the park or the store or something.  🙂

So, this is part 2 of the Handmade Life series….  I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into our handmade life.. 🙂

Tip Junkie handmade projects

WestBow Press

A Handmade Life Part 12–Sourdough Cookies, or Herman’s Babies

For those who have followed the saga of Herman, he’s had children.

They’re sweet little things, fat and fluffy.

Now, before you think “what in the world is she talking about!!!”, let me explain.

Herman is a sourdough starter made from a cup of flour and cup of water and fed well.  He’s very prolific.

Herman has been in my home now for nearly 3 weeks.  He’s so far made 12 loaves of bread, 110 cookies, went to visit a new home and made bread and cookies there too.  He’s filled the refrigerator freezer and also lives in the chest deep freezer.  And he’s half way filled a stock pot in the fridge.  He’s a growing boy.

Herman’s children here are cookies.

Now, I’ve never been good at making cookies.  Mine always looked like sweet tortillas.  Flat bread at the most.  Never ever ever a cookie.  So, when I started on this project, I expected it to be a sweet sourdough tortilla.  Hint: use parchment to bake on!!!  It works!

To make these, I stirred up ol’ Herman and got him all bubbly and happy.  Then I put his part (the 1 cup) first into the mixer bowl, followed by all the other ingredients, and mixed him all up.

Herman in the stock pot all happy and bubbly

Herman got along very well with his friends Baking Soda, Powder, eggs, vanilla, etc.

 He even behaved while I rolled him out and cut him into rounds.

I used a biscuit cutter and made lots of rounds, and put them on a pizza pan covered in parchment.  I then put some butter on them and sprinkled them with sanding sugar.

They went in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, and came out looking like sugary biscuits.  I evidently didn’t roll them out flat enough, as they poofed.  Or it could have been the water pan I keep in the oven full of water to help things rise well.

They tasted like a sugar cookie tho!  Light, fluffy, sweet, YUMMM!

I did find that with this recipe, the little Hermanites will puff, so space them a ways apart to let them spread and poof.  If you don’t want them to look like biscuits, break out your cool cookie cutters!

I LOVE how they taste, and hubby had a bunch of them despite his intestinal issues.

My friend Jennifer took some of Herman and made sourdough oatmeal/almond/chocolate chip Hermanites.  They are SO GOOD!!  Take an oatmeal cookie recipe, substitute a cup of Herman in for a cup or so of flour, adjust your liquids a little, add in nuts and chocolate chip and you’ve got a winner!!

Can you tell I liked them?

Below is the cookie recipe, with credits.  Enjoy!

via Cultures for Health

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Rapadura or Sucanat (I used good old cane sugar)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Fresh Sourdough Starter
  • 2 tbsp. Water

Preheat   the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and the   vanilla extract.  Gently mix in the water and sourdough starter.  In a   separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Combine the wet and   dry ingredients.  Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Drop the dough   onto a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the cookies with cinnamon and sugar if   desired.  Bake for 12 minutes.


Shared Joyfully with:

A Mama’s Story

Moving Toward Inclusion: Guest Post by Michy of Loving Our Journey

 I am so very proud to introduce Michy, from Loving Our Journey!  Michy has a wonderful perspective in educating children with special needs.  I personally enjoy her refreshing view, as our family has 3 children with varying special needs.  Michy is a homeschooling mom with a background in Special Education.

So, pull up a seat and grab a cup of tea (or hot chocolate or coffee), and enjoy!

Moving Towards Natural Inclusion

“He’s my friend.”  “She just needs me to read this to her.”  “It’s okay, I’m here to help.”

A dream world of support from one child to another.  That’s my goal, my hope, my dream for “inclusion”.  I hope one day to not need to write about it…that it becomes as natural as what you’ve read above.

What is inclusion?  In the simplest definition, inclusion is when children with special learning needs are educated with their same age peers, rather than seperating children based on their skill level. Historically, children who demonstrated significant difficulty learning were sadly living in institutions away from their families or taught in seperate classrooms from their peers.

As a new Special Education teacher in 2001, I fell into the new push for inclusion in Connecticut, due to the P.J. court case.  This meant many passionate meetings to design, plan, and implement “including” students, specificially those who were diagnosed with an intellectual impairment, in the classroom.  The problem was that classroom teachers had little experience in teaching these students, as they had often been taught by “specialists” such as myself.  Yet, these kids were still kids…with a need to belong!

I worked intensely for years to teach students in a separate resource room while also fufilling a new role:  to provide full consultation services to classroom teachers, gym teachers, art teachers, cafeteria workers, administration, everyone.  I needed to provide graduate level tips on how to not only teach the children, but more importantly….foster a natural learning social environment for all children.  God blessed me with energy and passion for this role.

Today, districts hire “inclusion facilitators”…a job that truly fits the old saying “teaching is an art”.

I loved, loved, loved teaching Special Education, and supporting students and teachers….but I wish it was natural.  I wish it didn’t take extensive planning for every lesson.    In some cases, with the right match of teachers and students, it becomes natural.  The learning flows and is so powerful!

The words that will really indicate the progress of joining all God’s children together are these…

“He’s my friend.”  “She just needs me to read this to her.”  “It’s okay, I’m here to help.”

Michy is a Christian Stay At Home mother writing with passion about her loves: faith, parenting, and healthy living.  She is a past Special Education teacher and Elementary Literacy Specialist who loves learning.Please visit her on facebook or at her Loving Our Journey blog where she hosts Faithfully Friday Parenting Linky Party.

Joyfully shared at:

Growing Home

A Mama’s Story

Psalm of the Day–Psalm 38


Psa 38:1


  A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

Psa 38:2


  For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

Psa 38:3


  There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

Psa 38:4


  For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Psa 38:5


  My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

Psa 38:6


  I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

Psa 38:7


  For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.

Psa 38:8


  I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

Psa 38:9


  Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.

Psa 38:10


  My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.

Psa 38:11


  My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.

Psa 38:12


  They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.

Psa 38:13


  But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.

Psa 38:14


  Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

Psa 38:15


  For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

Psa 38:16


  For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.

Psa 38:17


  For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.

Psa 38:18


  For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

Psa 38:19


  But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

Psa 38:20


  They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

Psa 38:21


  Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.

Psa 38:22


  Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

A Handmade Life Part 11–Preparing for Winter

It’s still July here in Southeast Kansas, but here at the Abella household, we’re preparing for winter!


We won’t have the garden in the middle of a Kansas winter.  The beautiful herbs and veggies won’t be there to pick fresh each day for meals.  So, we must prepare early.



Our garden has tomatoes, zukes, eggplants, basil, parsley, stevia, thyme, sage, and chives.  It’s a small plot, maybe 5 feet at the most, and a square.  Not a lot, of course, but it’s enough for our family.  It provides extra veggies and fresh herbs, which is fine by me!


God has provided a wonderful bounty of tomatoes, and with 4 plants, I’ve harvest upwards of 80 in less than 5 days.  We are in tomato heaven!

So what are we doing with all those tomatoes?

This got a little tricky.  See, those ‘maters have seeds and skin.  Hubby is not allowed seeds and skins on veggies/fruits for the time being due to some nasty gastrointestinal issues.  I love full tomatoes in all their glory, seeds and skins included.  Throw them on a sandwich with some bacon and/or lettuce and I’m good.  Shoot, it doesn’t even have to have bacon, just a tomato on bread with mustard, lettuce, and pickles, and I’m a happy camper.  Hubby loves his seeds and skins too.

So to help hubby be able to have his homegrown tomatoes without the pain, I’ve taken to processing them into a thick juice.  I have been blessed with a father in law who has all the processing equipment to can just about anything you can think of.   Hubby and I borrowed some of his equipment, like the cool strainer collander thingy on a tripod.  I LOVE it!


This last week, I went through a bunch of tomatoes, cleaned them from the crop dust (we believe in only organic Sevin LOL).  Then, took the core out, and put them in a stock pot with enough water that they cooked but didn’t boil over.


Then, they were spooned out and into a different pot to cool a bit.  Seriously, hot tomatoes don’t feel good on fingers.  After they cooled a bit, they were put into the collander/strainer thingy on 3 legs.  Using a wooden plunger (no, not the toilet kind–more like the mortar/pestil kind on a much larger basis), the ‘maters went through the strainer’s tiny itty bitty holes to leave behind only seeds and skins.  This took a long long while, or it seemed like it, but those stingy tomatoes gave up all the meat in them.  The seeds and skins I put aside into a big bowl for later use (like soup–there’s plenty of tomato taste left).


After allllll the tomatoes were put through the strainer thingy (don’t you love the scientific language here?? LOL) I had a good size pot of thick juice.  That thick juice simmered for a while in a pot, thickening up a bit.  When that cooled, I put it all into freezer bags.


Why freezer bags?  We’re planning a canning party with hubby’s dad, making lots of thick yummy sauce for pastas and such.  Papa has a lot of tomatoes too, so when hubby and Papa are ready, off to canning we go, using up all the things we’ve frozen in the meantime.  Between Papa’s canner and mine, we can whip up a lot of jars of sauce in no time once we get plenty between us to use.

Just another day at the Abella house!

Stay tuned for upcoming Hand Made Life series on preserving fresh herbs, including stevia, basil, and so on!

I found this blog post from Flappiness Is, and thought I’d pass along. Some days, I really do think this… Enjoy !

Flappiness Is...

Dear Friend,

You have no doubt noticed that you haven’t seen much of me lately.  Maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe years.   I bump into you in the grocery store, and we always talk about getting together soon and about how ridiculously long it has been.  And it really has been too long.  I really have wanted to see you.  But I will admit that sometimes when you call, I don’t answer the phone.  Often it is because I can’t talk amidst a cacophony of banging, screeching, and crying.  Mostly it is because I have been standing there for some time trying to figure out just what it is that my child wants so badly, but doesn’t have the words to ask.  He’s upset, and there will be no conversation if I don’t figure it out.  I intend to call back, but because he has so much trouble going to…

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