What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Side Scalloped Romper


Becalmed in the doldrums of the Sea of Adoption Paperwork, I've been passing the time stitching up togs for the new grandbaby-to-be.  Since we obviously have no idea what this baby is yet, I get the pleasure of working with patterns for both genders.

This first installment in the "Grandbaby Togs" category is a sweet little blue side-scalloped romper.  A Maggie's Classics pattern I've had for ages and only constructed one other time, it was such a fun and simple little suit to start with.  This one is for a little boy baby St. Clair.  We'll just call him "K" since you'll have to wait and find out what his name really will be.  Maybe that will give you something to guess about.

Hey!  That gives me an idea.  How about a contest?

Guess the baby's boy name, and you'll win a prize.  Leave me a comment either here on my blog, or on Facebook, or email me your guess.  For my local friends, it will most likely be a food prize.  For my long distance friends...well, I'm I'll come up with something, but it may still be a food prize.


OK, back to the romper.  This is sewn in light blue batiste, piped in batiste, and trimmed with six tiny buttons down the front; one is under the collar.  The back sports a snappy little belt.  This is a size six-months, and is very true to size.  So it should fit him really well next summer, no matter where Abby and Jonathan are living then...

OK, on to the first little girl outfit.



Exactly What's So Wonderful About An Empty Nest, Anyway?

 Double Happiness

This is a post I've put off for over a month now.  I've wanted to sit down and put my thoughts into writing, but I knew it could take a while.  I wondered how those thoughts would be received.  Not that it really matters, but I did wonder.  If I've learned anything in my nearly 48 years, it is that, in this life, I only have One Person to please.  Still, tonight the time seems right to share my heart with you.

The thought has occurred to me, on many occasions since May of last year, that if we had not followed the call God placed on our lives January 1, 1995, to adopt a baby girl from China, we would be "empty-nesters" right now.  Actually, truth be told, that was "our" original plan when Tom and I began our life's journey together twenty-seven years ago.  Our plan was:  have our children early, while we are young and energetic, scoot them out of the house when they reach adulthood, smile at our accomplishment, then happily pursue a lot of fun together in our "golden" years.  Somehow, by His grace, our plan and God's plan did not line up at all.  In the years before Lacy came home in 1995, our eyes were opened to the great needs of orphans worldwide.  Later, it only felt natural for us to invite two more dark-haired, almond-eyed princesses into our home.  I praise God for these blessings!  I honestly can not think of anything I would rather not be than an empty-nester right now.

Our home is a content and happy one.  At the moment, it happens to also be relatively peaceful and calm, with only our three youngest, very quiet girls still living with us.  So, why, at our ages, would we consider adopting again?  Why, when we are approaching the age when many people are starting to think about retirement, are we willing to commit our hearts and lives to another child?  The answer is simple.  God has called us to do it.

I believe God places a stirring in your heart when He is calling you to something big.  He placed that stirring in my heart nearly two years ago.  I had no earthly idea what He had in store for us.  And for months and months, I asked Him to show me what it was.  He didn't.  Not at all.  Not an inkling.

This past January, I undertook a challenge to read the Bible through in 90 days.  That may sound like some huge feat, but really it only required an hour a day.  I saw themes running through scripture that I'd never seen so clearly.  Two were in the Old Testament, one was in the New.  The first was: Care for orphans and widows, the underprivileged and discarded.  Another was:  Trust God.  Really trust Him.  Believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. God will never leave you, nor forsake you, so have faith and don't fear.  Finally, in the New Testament: Share the Good News of Christ with all people. 

During the first half of the year, God made one thing very clear to both Tom and me.  He wants us to boldly use our gifts and talents and resources for His glory.  And we both felt very strongly that He was calling us to make personal sacrifices.  We discussed ways we could do this better, to His glory.  In the end, we felt that the best way for US to do that, is to open our home to another one of the lost and hurting orphans waiting for a family.  It is easy, (ok, it's not easy, it's difficult) to think about the 147 million orphans worldwide and doubt what you can really do to affect a difference in their lives.  The problem with that thinking is that orphans aren't a vast, faceless mass of humanity.  Each one is precious, created in God's image, valuable and loved by Him.  Each one wants to be loved by a mom and dad, to be really special to someone.  Each has the potential to contribute to society if given a fighting chance.  Each needs to hear of the Savior's love, and learn that there is salvation in Christ.  To us, realizing we can't help them all is not an excuse for ignoring the ones we can help.  And clearly, we can help one more.

So where does all this bring us?  It brings us to a little four-year-old boy in China.  There was a twisting, turning road that led us to this particular little boy, but that story will have to wait for another day.  We are working hard to complete the necessary mountain of paperwork to bring him home as soon as we can.  Right now, he has no idea we exist.  He is completely unaware that he is loved and wanted by a family a half a world away.  We have named him Caleb Paul.  Caleb, because we want him to be bold and courageous, trusting that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do.  Paul, because he was a godly servant of the Lord, redeemed and fully committed to sharing Christ with all men.

I wish I could tell you more about Caleb or post the pictures and video of him.  But, alas, that is not allowed.  His identity must be protected and we respect that requirement.  Trust me, as soon as I can, I will.  But for now, just believe me when I say that he has a sweet smile and a slightly mischievous demeanor.  We are told he likes to lead the other children in activities like an older brother, which we find just precious.  Our home promises to ring with the sights and sounds of yesteryear...legos, trains, trucks, and cars.  Skinned knees, bleeding lips, stitches in the head.  Tom just thought his coaching days were over.  Our girls are preparing to sacrifice some dress-up and craft time for bikes, and sand piles, and critter catching.   And I'll be bringing out the kindergarten curriculum for the seventh time next fall.  None of us could be more excited.

Will you pray with us for Caleb?  Having adopted a five-year-old before, we are fully aware of the huge transition he is going to be required to make in culture, language, sights, sounds, smells...everything.  The adjustment can be really difficult at first.  But we are also witnesses to God's amazing grace in our lives and the lives of these very resilient children.  He has never taken us anywhere that He hasn't been right beside us the whole way.

To God be ALL the glory!!



Baby Aly's Daygown

What is white as a cloud, soft as a kitten, and sweet as cotton candy?

A darling daygown for Miss Alyson Leigh.  


It's now all finished, pretty as a pearl,
 ready to be sent to a dear baby girl.

As this was so much fun to do,
I started another for "who knows who?"


Let's Build a Bishop


In my opinion, nothing looks sweeter on a baby girl than a dainty bishop-style smocked dress.  Having recently been blessed with yet another grand-niece, I knew I had to get busy and construct her a daygown before too much time got away from me.  The last one I made was a happy floral print, but this one I decided to make white, as cool as cool can be, and smock it with tiny rose buds.

I'm never quite sure what will interest people, but speaking for myself, I was very interested the first time I saw how a bishop-style dress is constructed.  They are really easy to do since you do almost all the sewing before you do the smocking.  Then, when the smocking is finished, you're almost done with the whole dress.


First you cut out the fronts, the back, and two sleeves.  This photo shows where I was sewing a sleeve to the front of the dress with the serger.  That way, I can achieve a tiny little seam which will easily go through the pleater.  You can see at the bottom of the sleeve where I have already run the edge through the pleater.  That part is done first, since I wanted a smocked sleeve.  Then I follow this order of construction: dress back, sleeve, front, sleeve, back.

Thorougly confused??

Well, don't be.  This next picture shows it much better than I can write it.


Only in this case, I'm actually making a dress that buttons up the front.  So I sewed front, sleeve, back, sleeve, front.

Now you're allowed to be confused!  :-/

The next step is to roll up the dress.  I lay it out on the floor, with the neck edge to the left, smooth it relatively flat, and then start rolling it up on a dowel rod, keeping the neck edge very straight.


I take this whole thing to the pleater, having loaded it with the number of needles which correspond to the number of rows I want to smock.  This tiny dress will only have five rows of smocking, so I have those five needles, plus one on either side, to stabilize it, for a total of seven.


This little machine is just the coolest thing.  It is also the best $85 I ever spent.  If I stopped to count, like that would even be possible, I've probably used it to smock several hundred children's garments in the past 25 years.  Anyway, it's so cool.  Not automated at all, just fully mechanical, you turn the knob on the right hand side, and all these little gears just feed the fabric through, pleating it as you go.  Whoever designed this was a genius.

When it comes out of the pleater, it looks like this:


But, my goal, since we aren't constructing a turtle neck, is to fan it out it to look like this:


I measure the neck edge, per the pattern instructions, then tie off the top pleater thread to that measurement.  Next I block it by spraying the living daylights out of it with spray starch, and steaming it like there is no tomorrow.  I let all that dry, and I'm ready to start smocking!!

The pattern I'm using is precious.  It's by Elizabeth Travis Johnson, called Missy.  When the smocking is completed, a small amount of embroidery will be stitched down the front of the dress, between the seven buttons.  So sweet!!


I actually have this all smocked now, and I'm busy finishing up the front details.  Check back in the next couple days.  I'll post pictures of Aly's sweet daygown.


Crescent Roll Chicken


Does home cooking define comfort food in your mind?  It sure does in mine.  I have no idea where that "comfort" label originated, but I started noticing it being used to describe recipes well over a decade ago.  We are a people in need of comfort, it seems.  We crave the familiarity of "at-homeness", surrounded by the people we love.  A delicious home-cooked meal, with everyone sitting around the table enjoying each other's company, is the very best way to unwind after a busy day.  Our family looks forward to to the evening meal together ever so much.

If that is not your pattern, or if it once was, and you have gotten away from it,  may I highly recommend you begin or reinstate that tradition in your home?   It is my opinion that families thrive in the consistency of evening meals eaten together.  Love and nurture, valuable life lessons, togetherness.  All are irreplaceable benefits of eating together daily.  We make it a priority.

Stepping off my soap box, I'd like to share another family favorite recipe with you.  This is one I procured from my son-in-law Jonathan, who got it from his mother, Nancy St. Clair.  It's comfort food at its best...  chicken, rolled in crescent roll dough, smothered in sauce, and topped with cheese.  How can you improve on that combination?  I serve it with steamed vegetables, to balance the over-all fat content of the meal. 

This recipe calls for canned chicken, which is what I use.  That way, it can easily be put together in about 10 minutes or less.  If you have left-over chicken, by all means, chop it up and use that instead.  This recipe is plenty for five people.  When I'm serving a bigger crowd, i.e., when all the troops are home, I use three cans of crescent rolls and two cans of chicken, and I double the sauce.

Give this one a shot.  I'd wager you'll like it as much as we do, served up with a heaping helping of love for the blessing that is your family.

The major players.

Roll out the dough and top with the chicken.

Now roll up the crescents and place them in the pan.

Mix up the sauce, pour over, and sprinkle with cheese.

Make your family wait while you photograph your plate.  
Oh wait, only Laura Lee does that!

Crescent Roll Chicken

  •  2 cans crescent roll dough
  • 1 large can (9.5 oz.) shredded chicken, drained
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, more or less.  More is good.

Unroll crescent rolls and top with the shredded chicken.  Place rolls in two rows in a greased 9X13" baking dish.  Mix up the soup and milk.  Pour over the rolls.  Top with the cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.