Category: Family

July 10, 2014

Homemade Meat Rubs

Filed under: Family,Tutorials - 10 Jul 2014

I’ve extended my quest for homemade gifts for 2014 to not only include birthdays, but all gifts if possible. So when Father’s Day rolled around, I had a stroke of genius and ran with it.

Several years ago I handed my Dad his yearly Birthday card and announced it was nothing fun, just another gift card to the hardware store to join the others in his wallet that I’d given him for every holiday for several years. He looked at me very genuinely and told me he was sad that I couldn’t come up with something more creative to give him when I prided myself on giving creative gifts to others. Ouch. Throughout my life my Dad has had a way of delivering life lesson one-liners that are profound and sink into my soul deeply–and this one was no different. It ate at me and every holiday since I’ve thought long and hard and tried to give him something more meaningful. This Father’s Day, I think I knocked it out of the park.

Sew Like My Mom | Homemade Meat Rubs

My Dad likes to grill, like most men, but he has every grilling accoutrement known to man. So I figured I’d give him something fun to cook on the grill. These rubs went together really quickly, used herbs and seasonings I (mostly) already had on hand, and smell so delicious!

Sew Like My Mom | Homemade Meat Rubs

Sew Like My Mom | Homemade Meat Rubs

Sew Like My Mom | Homemade Meat Rubs


July 1, 2014

your hands are full

Filed under: Family - 01 Jul 2014

There’s an epidemic spreading across our great country. It’s a disease that seems to plague young and old alike, across all nationalities, races, and strikes both genders equally. The long-lasting effects of this sickness don’t linger with the infected, but rather those they infect. What is this dreadful disease?

It’s the inability to shut the hell up and mind our own business.

When you have little kids, people think it’s okay to stop you in public and say whatever they want to you. Their words are more shocking if your children are from an interracial coupling, and heaven help you if they aren’t your color and therefore don’t “look” like you. The more kids you have, the more extreme the comments. People have asked me if I’m their nanny, babysitter, or au pair. They’ve asked me about fostering, adoption, and related expenses. They’ve put me down for being a teen Mom (I was 25 when my first was born, but I look young), for overpopulating the world, and for not knowing when to quit. I’ve been asked if I know what causes it. I’ve had “alternate hobbies” suggested to me. Some try to “compliment” me by saying they “don’t know how I do it” or suggest their wife/daughter/partner can’t handle the one or two they have and stand gap-mouthed while I move my children through the store/parking lot/playground. One lady stopped me recently and said she couldn’t figure out how you could have so many kids so close together with no multiples and I offered her a lesson on the birds and bees.

You might be thinking these are benign comments made between adults and what’s the big hairy deal?


My young, impressionable, innocent children. These beautiful little souls with big eyes and bigger hearts.

Sew Like My Mom

I’ll admit it–I didn’t think much about it either. Until today when we stood in line in a store waiting to check out. We’d put all our items on the register and were waiting for the person in front of us pay when another customer got in line behind us. She surveyed my crew silently for a few minutes, then looked at me in astonishment and delivered the line I’ve heard the very most, “You sure do have your hands full!”

If you ask any parent with several small children they’ll tell you they hear this constantly. I get it at least twice every single time we leave the house. I rattle off the usual comebacks and blow it off. But today was different. As we left the store, my oldest, who just turned 6 last Thursday, looked up at me with her big brown eyes and asked, “Mom? Why did that lady say your hands were full when all our stuff was on the register? Weren’t your hands empty?”

I felt gutted. Completely sick to my stomach. She had heard this seemingly benign comment between adults and wondered what it could mean. Kids are literal so she looked for the literal meaning in the comment, not at all realizing what exactly was being said.

How do I tell my daughter this woman was implying she was a handful? That collectively, she and her sisters and brother were considered too much. This stranger who doesn’t know us, our story, or anything about us made a snap judgement based solely on the number of children in our family with no thought about our character. We are overwhelming to her.

My children are not a handful. Do they have their moments? Of course. They ARE overwhelming at times. But they are good, sweet, loving kids with impeccable manners and gorgeous souls. I get through each day because of the amazing little people they are. They are truly the biggest blessing in this world and how dare you, complete stranger, imply anything different?

I looked back down at her. “Well,” I said slowly, choosing my words carefully, “sometimes when people see us out in stores or restaurants, they’re surprised by how many kids we have so close together. They feel like they have to say something but don’t quite know what, so they say Mommy has her hands full because they think you guys must be hard to take care of all day.” She nodded in approval of my explanation and we piled into the car.

My mind swirled as we drove. Did she fully understand what I meant? Was she aware of the negative connotation behind the comment? What other comments had she paid attention to but not asked me about? My heart ached for her that she lives in a world where perfect strangers feel it’s appropriate to spew their verbal diarrhea at us simply because of the size of our family. When did common decency and decorum fly out the window? Hadn’t people been taught to say only nice things or keep it to themselves? I shouldn’t have to come up with retorts like, “My heart is full, too.” Because I shouldn’t have to field these kinds of comments just to buy some milk.

I wondered how she would handle these comments as she grew up. Would she have the ability to stand up for herself or would she give a polite smile and not respond? Would she internalize the words or let them roll off her back? She has such a sweet, vulnerable soul, but can she help her younger siblings draw inner strength when presented with less-than-favorable comments?

I want to plead with the people of the world.


This also includes the comment that makes me the angriest. “Oh, you finally got your boy.” Do you know what that means to the three girls I had before him? You’re making them completely insignificant. You’re implying we kept having these useless girls, hoping to finally get the male heir. Why do YOU care?


The children can hear you! They’re wondering why you’re saying these things and are drawing conclusions about what they mean. The comments are unnecessary to begin with. You don’t have to say everything that pops into your head out loud, so for the love of all that is holy, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

“Mom?” her soft voice startled me. “I think the next time someone says that to you, I’m going to tell them to mind their own business.”

I think she’ll do just fine.

June 24, 2014

Why I Sew

Filed under: Family,Sewing - 24 Jun 2014

When I sat down to write this post, I wasn’t sure exactly what I would say. Why do I sew?

I guess for me, it’s in my blood. I didn’t realize how much sewing has become a part of my identity. Is it all I am? Of course not! But it drives me. Sewing is something I’m passionate about. It’s a calming influence in my life and it allows me to express myself in the way I know best.

It’s no accident that I love to create, though. I’m the fourth generation of avid sewists, and I’m sure it goes back farther than that, but those women died before I was born. I know my Great Grandmother was extremely talented with all things crafty. She and my Great Grandfather raised 4 girls through the Great Depression in Georgia and I can just imagine the repurposing that went on back then. She died when I was in the 8th grade and though I wasn’t into sewing or needlework, I remember her often wearing handmade items. This picture was taken 5 years before she died, and you can see her decked out in her handiwork, yarn in hand, still creating. She was 84 here!

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

I also have to mention my Great Grandfather’s sister, Aunt Marion. I would have LOVED to visit with her as an adult. Aunt Marion never married and lived in Greenwich Village in Manhattan in the 50s and 60s. She worked for a magazine, was a writer, and also created with her hands. I’ve got little Christmas trinkets she made and I’ve heard hilarious stories about my Dad flipping through her sketchpad only to be surprised by images of nude men drawn from life (from a class she took, I’m assuming!). She led a fascinating life and I wish I could know more about her.

But back to sewing. So, 4 generations of women creating (I’m the baby):

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

My Great Grandmother taught my Grandmother, who sewed for my Mom as she grew up.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

When my Mom was 13, my Grandmother taught her to sew. She furthered her knowledge in Home Ec in High School. My Mom made herself the most adorable clothes in the late 60s and 70s! She tells me this outfit was light blue with navy contrast. Precious!

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

This is my parents in college about 3 months after they started dating. They got married 7 months later and 40 years later they’re just as adorable! My Mom made this amazing dress she’s wearing.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

When my Mom graduated from college, she asked her parents to buy her a Singer sewing machine. She put millions of stitches on that bad boy. We moved all over the world with my Dad’s Army career and my Mom made curtains, pillows, all kinds of decor for each place we lived. She continued to sew for herself on special occasions, but mostly she sewed for us. She made me and my sister these adorable dresses.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

And she saved them! My oldest niece and Sofia are 5 years apart in age like my sister and I are, so we were able to get pictures of them in our heirloom dresses. (What I remember most about this photo shoot is that we had to convince Katelyn we wanted her to keep her eyes open for the pictures. She wanted to close them so she could be just like her Mom in the old picture!)

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

I wore handmade dresses my entire childhood. I ADORED the process of helping my Mom choose a pattern and pick out fabric. I’d go to bed at night listening to that Singer whirring and I’d wake up to an awesome new dress hanging on my closet.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

(the early 90s were not kind to anyone!)

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

When I was growing up, it never really occurred to me that sewing could be a past time for a child. I was busy dancing, playing sports, doing school plays and hanging out with friends. When I was a Junior in High School I found a box of old fabric and I cut a bunch of it into squares. Then I hand stitched them together and made these itty bitty lined bags for my friends. My Mom caught me trying to figure out how to put buttonholes on them and taught me how to use her trusty old Singer to finish the job. It wasn’t until my Freshman year of college that I became interested again. I came home from college and announced I wanted to make all my friends pj pants for their Christmas gifts. I’m sure my Mom groaned on the inside, but she hauled me to the store, helped me choose a pattern and fabric, then very patiently started teaching me to sew. By the next Christmas she’d gotten a new Bernina so I borrowed her Singer and I’ve never given it back.

My friends in college teased me often about having a sewing machine. I vividly remember one weekend we were expecting snow (a HUGE deal in the South), so my 3 roommates and I made a trip to Walmart to stock up on beer and snacks and they all bought flannel for me to make them cozy pajama pants with. We sat in our apartment and watched girly movies in our new pants for 3 days! I found other uses for it when it came time for sorority socials, too. I bought every neck tie in every thrift shop in our tiny town to make 3 tie dresses for the one garment social. They were a HIT!

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

And I started making bags. I discovered I really loved making them and there wasn’t a whole lot to know. All bags are pretty much constructed the same way and I quickly started churning out totes, purses and clutches. I designed several purse patterns myself and got my first taste of patternmaking. I couldn’t get enough. After college I got my first “real” job and started sewing myself dresses. My Mom was so patient on the phone with me while I cried to her about the incoherent pattern directions. But I powered through and wore those dresses with pride. Soon after Sofia was born I really started sewing but I wasn’t quite good at it yet. I struggled with paper patterns for her because the sizing was SO off.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

So I started making things up myself. I found a simple pillowcase dress tutorial and tried my first ever non-pattern project. It was also enormous, but I learned a lot! I also discovered applique. I made it up as I went along and it wasn’t very good, but I’d opened a can of worms I knew I couldn’t close.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Soon I started appliqueing everything I could get my hands on. I sat down a few days ago to count my applique projects over the last 5 years. I stopped counting in the 400s. I didn’t become good at it overnight, I’ve worked hard at it over the years!

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

But I kept sewing. I learned how to change ill-fitting garments. I started blogging and sharing tips, tutorials and tricks I’d figured out. Mostly I just kept sewing.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Am I an expert? No way, Jose. I hope I never consider myself an expert because there is always something new to learn or improve upon. I’m much more comfortable with my talent and abilities now and feel like I’m in a place where I can help others learn. I’ve got a voice in this space and I want to keep using it. Starting to draft children’s patterns scared me and as I was gearing up to do my first pattern, I distracted myself with genealogy instead. Imagine my surprised when I started looking into my Dad’s side of the family and discovered this little gem. My Grandpa’s Mother immigrated to the US in 1921 as a 26 year old single woman. Her occupation? Dressmaker.

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Sewing is in me. It’s been ingrained in the women I come from for generations and it delights me to know it’ll continue on for generations to come. Why do I sew? I sew for joy, for pleasure, and because it makes my soul sing. I sew to continue on the traditions of the women before me, and treat my children to handmade work. My kids drift off to sleep to the same whirring from the same sewing machine that gave me so many wonderful memories as a child. I get to pass along my passion to my kids watch them delight in creating with their hands. Is there anything better than that?

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

Sew Like My Mom | Why I Sew

6.22.14 | Sewing Mama RaeAnna | Simple Simon and Co. |
6.23.14 | Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy | Nimble Phish | Sprouting Jube Jube | Paisley Roots | Made For Mermaids | Glitter and Wit | Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop | Rae Gun Ramblings |
6.24.14 | Shaffer Sisters | Sew Like My Mom | Bebe Lambs | EYMM |
6.25.14 | The Sewing Geek | GYCT | Lulu and Celeste |
6.26.14 | Ruby and Jack Patterns | Muse of the Morning | Fishsticks Designs | Little Kids Grow |
6.27.14 | Make it Handmade | Rebel and Malice | Ali Cat & Co. |

Why do you sew? I’d love to know your story!

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