Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

Late fall, we hung up a bird feeder in front of our living room window in anticipation of bird-watching this winter.  I thought my grandson, who loves anything that moves, would especially enjoy watching the birds come and go. A great idea in theory, but for some reason the birds haven't been flocking in for a free meal.  I thought maybe getting a foot of snow would bring them  in, but no luck.  I checked to see if the feeder was still filled with seed, and it was, but then I noticed all the big black seeds were gone while plenty of the other kinds of seeds remained. 

Seriously?  You don't want to eat my birdseed because there aren't any black ones? 

You'd rather forage for food under a foot of snow than eat anything other than a black seed?

Ugh!  Here I am, trying to be nice...
These birds remind me of the Israelites following Moses in the desert.  Every day God provided them with manna to eat, but they began to grumble  and whine because they didn't want manna.  They wanted something else.  God wasn't at all pleased with this grumbling attitude.  After all, He was providing for all of their needs every day; but rather than focusing on God's provision, the Israelites focused on all the things they didn't have.
Then I recognized myself.  (Can I just interject here - I hate it when that happens!  Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful that God brings these things to my attention, I had just hoped that at this point in my life there wouldn't be so much of it...) 

Maybe you recognize yourself too. 

How often do we say "There's nothing to eat" when our pantry contains more food than most people could ever dream of? 

How often do we grumble when we must remove certain foods from our diet rather than being grateful for those things we can have?

Why do we focus on what we want, rather than on what we know is good for us?

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ~ 2 Peter 1:3

Father, forgive us for our spirit of ingratitude.  Help us to focus not on what we don't or can't have, but instead keep our focus on the many ways You bless and provide for us each and every day.  When we're inclined to grumble, remind us that You have given us EVERYTHING we need and help us to put on an attitude of thanksgiving.


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 5 comments

Tips for Tuesday


I couldn't believe how much better homemade granola is than store bought, and this recipe is quite easy with a few helpful hints!

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup honey (I like to use just a bit more to help the oats stick together better)                                    

¾ cup brown sugar                               

Mix oil, honey and brown sugar in a small saucepan.  (I like to do it in that order.  Measuring the oil first helps the honey slide right out of the measuring cup, and it works better to mix the brown sugar into the liquids.)  Heat over medium to low heat just until the sugar is dissolved, before it boils.  (Boiling it isn't disastrous, but it will make the granola a bit crunchier.) 

4½ cups oatmeal (I use quick oats)

½ cup dry milk
¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: add nuts, wheat germ, flax seed, coconut, dates, etc.

Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir.  Pour sugar mixture over dry mixture and mix  until all the oats are well moistened.  (If there are dry spots going in, there will be dry spots coming out.)  Press into a lightly greased 9" by 13" pan and bake at 375° for approximately 10 minutes.  (For chewy granola, take out of the oven when slightly brown.  For crunchy granola, bake until top is all browned.)   

Let cool in pan. For granola crumbles (to eat as cereal), break up with a fork when slightly cool. 

 To break into large pieces (like granola bars), allow to fully cool and loosen around the edges before breaking.

 I like to save the crumbs to sprinkle over yogurt and fruit. 

When finished breaking, store in an airtight container. 



I've been known to link up with: Funky Junk Interiors, Knick of Time, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2sdays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Courtship Connection, Tutorials & Tips Tuesday, Thrifty Thursday, Weekend Whatever, Frugal Friday
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

Tips for Tuesday

Last week I unveiled the new lampshade I just finished.  As promised, here are step-by-step instructions for those of you who are interested in making one yourself. Before you say you can't do this, let me tell you that looks can be deceiving! It actually takes minimal skill to make these shades, it's just time consuming.

Before starting this project, you'll need*:

Lampshade frame or old lampshade
Tape measure or yardstick
Approximately 25 yards of twill tape, 5/8-inch wide
5/8 yard of natural muslin or white cotton fabric for the lining
Matching thread
Hand sewing needle
Large quantity of strait pins
Fabri-Tac or similar fabric adhesive
5/8 yard of fabric for the exterior
Matching thread
3 1/2 yards of gimp to match exterior fabric
1 1/2 yards of trim for the bottom of the shade

*Measurements given are what I used for this particular shade.  The amount you need will vary by shade.  In the instructions I will tell you how to calculate exactly what you will need.

Read through all the instructions before starting your project.  I also recommend purchasing all exterior materials (fabric, gimp and trim) at the same time to be sure what you need is available.  

This is the sorry looking before picture of this shade.  It was very old and the fabric was beginning to shred with age.  I thought I'd show you what it looked like as I started removing all the old fabric.  This step can be skipped if you purchase a new frame like the ones you'll find here, but they're much cheaper if you can find one at a thrift store or garage sale.  Because the fabric often looks bad, they're usually quite inexpensive, but looks don't matter since you'll be stripping all the fabric off anyway. If you look at the underside of the shade and see a straight and sturdy frame, you're good to go.  This particular shade looked so bad it was actually given to me.

Once all the fabric has been removed from the frame, the next step is to wrap the entire frame with twill tape.  I prefer the 5/8 inch since it gives good coverage but doesn't bunch up too much when going around corners like the wider tapes tend to do.  Personally, I avoid the packages because they tend to be quite expensive.  Ask your fabric shop if they sell it by the yard.  I found this twill tape in bulk at Fields Fabrics for about .25 cents per yard.  It's difficult to calculate exactly how much you will need, but in most cases 25 yards is sufficient.

This particular frame already had tape wrapped around the base, but since it was hard and stiff it still needed to be wrapped with twill tape like everything else.  I began by putting a dab of glue on the end and then folding the tape around the edge at an angle above one of the spokes. 

Begin wrapping the tape down the spoke, slightly overlapping the edges of the tape so that everything is covered.  

When you reach the narrower top of the frame, wrap around that until you reach the next spoke, then work your way back to the base.  I like to use pieces about a yard long.  Anything much longer than that gets quite tangled as you wrap.  You may need to test this a bit and see what works best for you.  

At the end of each piece of twill tape, secure it with a dab of glue and then repeat the process until all the wires have been wrapped.

Then, do it all again.  It may seem like a lot of senseless work to wrap the entire frame twice, but you really need two layers of twill in order to stitch the fabric on. (TRUST ME!)  With only one layer it's very difficult to sew since your needle keeps hitting the metal frame.  With two layers, you're sewing into the top layer while the bottom layer cushions the needle by remaining between it and the frame.  

Lining fabric is used to protect the outer fabric from the heat of the light bulb and to lessen the amount of light coming through the sides of the shade.   To determine how much lining fabric is needed measure the circumference of the base and add 1 inch for each section of frame.  (For example, this particular frame was divided into 8 sections, so I added 8 inches to the circumference of the base.)  This number will give you the width of fabric you will need.  

Next measure the height of a spoke, being sure to follow the curve, if any. Add (at least) 2 inches to this number to give you plenty of fabric to work with.  This will give you the amount of yardage you need to purchase of each the lining and the exterior fabric, assuming that the width calculated above is less than the width of the fabrics you choose.  Keep a record of all the measurements you take because you will need them again later in the project.  

To cut the lining fabric, first measure the length - spoke to spoke - of TWO sections of the frame at both the top and the bottom.  Add 2 inches to each of these numbers so you'll have an extra inch of fabric on each side of the  panel.  

Using a tape measure or yardstick, mark the longer length (which includes the extra 2 inches) at the bottom edge of your fabric.  (Don't worry about writing on your fabric because the markings will not be seen.) Next, measure up the side of the fabric and mark it at the height of the spoke plus 2 inches that you calculated previously.  

Across from that marking, center the shorter length (which includes the extra 2 inches) over the longer length and mark it on the fabric.  (Look down at the next few photos if I've lost you.)  You will need one piece for every two sections of the frame, but I recommend cutting just one first to see if you need to make any adjustments.  

Take the fabric and pin it over two sections of the frame, being sure to have at least 1" of excess fabric on each side.  It probably won't lay flat at this point, but don't give up on it yet!

Work your way around the edges of this section, pulling on the fabric to tighten it, adding pins as you go.  After a couple times around it should become nice and taught.  If you're having trouble getting it tight and smooth, you may need to work with one section at a time rather than two.  

Once it's as tight and smooth as you can get it, using matching thread, begin to whip stitch the fabric to the frame, pulling the fabric tight and removing pins as you go.  Doubling the thread, use as long of a piece as you are comfortable with to minimize the number of knots you'll need. Also, try to knot the thread off to the side of a spoke or rim so it won't show through the fabric later.  

I don't recommend doing this with a cat around since the dangling thread is too much of a temptation for them to pass up!

If that sized piece worked well for you, cut out three more the same size using one as a pattern for the others.  If not, now is the time to make adjustments.  I like to reverse the top and bottom to conserve fabric just in case I may be cutting it close as far as fabric goes.  Before sewing all of these pieces on, you may want to use one as a pattern to cut out your exterior fabric as well since those pieces will be the same size as the lining.  Be careful to pay attention to the direction of the pattern or grain, if applicable. 

Once the piece has been stitched on all four sides, trim off the excess around the frame... 

... cutting it as close to the spoke as you can without cutting into the stitching (This photo was taken after trimming the second section.)  

Repeat the process with the next section, then those following it.  On one side you'll be sewing directly over the stitching from the previous section, and on the last piece you'll be sewing over the stitching on both sides.

Now that you've had the opportunity to practice, it's time for the real deal!  If you're working on two sections  at a time as I did, center the stitching of the lining under the exterior fabric.  This way you'll be stitching on the spokes that have no stitches on them yet, rather than having four layers of stitching on some spokes and none on the others.  

Repeat the entire process using the exterior fabric.  

Keep in mind that you want to keep your stitching narrow enough to be hidden by your gimp!

Now comes the fun part!  Once the fabric has all been sewn and the excess cut off, it's time to add the gimp.  Gimp is the flat trim you'll use to cover up your stitches.

Gimp can usually be found in two different styles as seen above and below.  Either style can be used, it all depends on your preference and what's available in the color you need.  Keep in mind that the gimp needs to hide your stitches!  Narrower gimp means narrower stitches are needed to keep them hidden.

This style of gimp is usually a bit wider than the fancier style, making it easier to cover up your stitches.  You may want to consider using this type of gimp for your first project. 

To calculate the amount of gimp needed, measure the length of a spoke and multiply it by the number of spokes you have.  Add this to the circumference of the top of the shade.  Working from top to bottom, use the fabric glue to attach the gimp and cover your stitching.  If desired, place over the other spokes as well.  (I didn't end up covering every spoke with gimp, just every other, but I like to keep my options open.  It can be hard to tell which way looks better without first seeing the finished product.)  

Once all the desired spokes are covered, glue the gimp around the top edge, covering the ends of the vertical pieces.  Because of the narrowness of the gimp, you can see it didn't cover the top of the shade very well.  It didn't look good to have two rows of gimp going around the outside of the upper edge, so I placed one row visible around the outside of the shade and another row visible only from the top. 

The final step is to glue the decorative trim onto the lower edge of the shade, covering the stitches and the ends of the gimp.  When calculating how much fringe you will need, measure the circumference of the bottom edge of the shade and then add a few inches to give you some leeway.  Most often, this trim can be the most expensive part of the shade.

Here's the finished view from the top...

...and another look at the finished product.  To view more examples of completed shades, click here.

To give you an idea of the cost, here's what I spent:
Frame - FREE!
Twill tape - $7
Muslim - $1.86
Fabric - $6.24
Gimp - $2 (This was a real steal!  I found a spool at a big chain craft store 1/2 off!)
Fringe - $14.93
Total - $32.03!!!

These shades are easily at least $50 to $100 and up to buy them ready made.  This custom shade was made at a fraction of the cost!

Good Luck!


I've been known to link up with: Funky Junk Interiors, Knick of Time, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2sdays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Courtship Connection, Tutorials & Tips Tuesday, Thrifty Thursday, Weekend Whatever, Frugal Friday
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 13 comments

It's a beautiful, sunny day - something to celebrate since we don't see much of the sun in Michigan this time of year!  The snow came late this season and though I'm not a big fan of it, after looking out at a dreary brown landscape the better part of last winter, I decided I much prefer the ground and trees wrapped in the blanket of dazzling white I'm looking at today.

Alas, just as it rains on the righteous and unrighteous, so it snows on the fields and trees as well as the driveways and roads.  Love the former; not a big fan of the latter.  Especially this year since my husband underwent heart surgery just before Christmas and he was always the one to clear the driveway.  

With an empty nest and a nineteen-month-old grandson who has not yet mastered the kiddie shovel I just bought for him (though he does love being outside and "helping,") the job of snow removal falls to me.  We do have a snow blower that attaches to our garden tractor, but even with weights on the back end I can't get the traction necessary to operate it.  That leaves me and my shovel.  Who would've thought that light fluffy snow could be so heavy?  But when there's six inches of it, it's heavy indeed!

That's just how much snow we had earlier in the week.  I was out shoveling until I could shovel no more, but when I retreated into the house and gazed back out at the driveway, I thought it felt like I had shoveled far more than it appeared.  I had cleared perhaps two car lengths of the driveway, which if we lived in town would've done the trick.  But we don't live in town, so it barely made a dent.  I just asked my husband how long our driveway is, and he said it's about 300 yards long, or the length of a football field.  

This is no short little driveway we're talking about.  The little white house in the center back of this photo is close to the road, so the end of our driveway falls just short of that.   I share this because it makes what happened all the more amazing. Before my husband went into the hospital, a friend of ours offered to clear our driveway.  He doesn't have a truck with a plow, so when he came, he brought along a couple of his boys and they shoveled it.  

They shoveled it!

By hand!

With shovels!

If that was all he did, I would have stood amazed at the time and energy they sacrificed on our behalf - but the story doesn't end there.  We had a little reprieve after the first snow, so he came on a Saturday and my husband talked him through attaching the snow blower to the tractor so it would be ready for the next storm.  

That was six weeks ago, and he's been here after every snowfall since - sometimes after work, sometimes before.  He's even driven out from town and cleared it on his lunch hour a few times!  We have never been loved like we've been loved by the body of Christ!

We greatly appreciate all he's done, and have expressed it to him at every opportunity.  I even made him a batch of my homemade hot fudge since I know it's one of his favorites, but it still pales in comparison to what he's done for us.  I think at this point we'd probably be snowed in for the rest of the winter if left to our own devices!  

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. ~ Hebrews 6:10

This man was a great example for his sons, not just talking about serving but modeling it again and again.  I think many of us, at least the community I live in, feel much more comfortable serving than being served.  But I've come to realize that refusing offers of assistance is often an issue of pride.  We don't want to look like we need help, but at one time or another we all find ourselves in that position.  By saying we can do it all, we're depriving someone else of their opportunity to serve God.  

Then there are the people not easy to serve.  I learned this first-hand a couple years ago, which is when God first brought the verse above to my attention.  While it's important to express your gratitude when being served, it's equally important not to expect it when you're the one doing the serving.  With some people it's easy to grow wearing while doing good, which is why it's so important to remember that ultimately it's God whom we're serving.  He will never forget the love we've shown to him through loving others - especially the unlovable. 

Father, I thank you for the faithful help You have sent us, for I know that every good and perfect gift comes from You.  Please bless the people that have helped us in our time of need and help us to be a blessing to those around us.  


I've been known to link up with: Soli Deo Gloria, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2sdays, Tell Me a Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, Courtship Connection, Into the Beautiful, God Bumps & God Incidences, Word-Filled Wednesday, Winsome Wednesday, Simply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Monday's Musings, Monday MontrasThrive at Home, Knick of Time
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

Tips for Tuesday

For those who have been waiting - here's my recently completed lampshade!

These lamp shades are really quite simple to make (just time consuming) so you'll look much more talented than you really are ;)  You'll find a step-by-step tutorial here.

Anyone who really knows me knows I hate paying full price for anything.  Most of what we own was either purchased at a rock-bottom price or a do-it-yourself project.   I think it was back when I was working in the fabric store that I first began making lampshades.  The store had received a shipment of lampshade frames and I thought I'd try my hand at making one. 

Thankfully, my husband is handy with wiring and made lamps to go with the shades.

For this cute little lamp I filled a quart size Mason jar with my grandmother's buttons.

We have it displayed on a vintage sewing machine cabinet.  There's no machine in it, but we liked the looks of the cabinet.

One shade soon turned into three as my husband wired more lamps for my sewing room and I made coordinating shades to top them off.

This old girl was in sorry shape when we bought her for a steal at the Shipsy auction.  I took the old fabric off the dress form and used it for a pattern to cut out the new fabric.  Then, more of Bob's wiring magic!

You can see my dress form lamp on the right of this photo.  The sewing machine cabinet with the button lamp is directly behind the shade. 

I mentioned that we were going to make a sewing machine lamp while at the sewing machine shop.  They had this really nice looking machine that didn't work and offered to trade it for my machine that did work.  Since it looked a lot better than the one I had, I took them up on the offer.

Then several years ago I bought a really cool antique floor lamp from an auction.  All it needed was a new shade.  I think this one is my favorite, though it was made a little differently than the others.  Because of the shape I was able to have a pattern made and keep the fabric in one piece instead of several. 

I had another floor lamp that was looking pretty shabby.  It's brass-look finish was worn off in several places and I was thinking it was time for it to go away.  Then a friend told me of the wonders of spray paint.  I bought some Rust-Oleum Hammered in a copper finish and coated my lamp with it (as well as some tacky-looking heat registers).  Several years later and the lamp still looks great.    

My husband is recovering from major surgery, so I took advantage of the time sitting with him to make a new shade.  They're quite easy to make and require more time than skill so it was a great project for the evenings.  I use this lamp in the same room as the antique lamp, though on the opposite side of the room, so I wanted the shades to match.  Surprisingly, I couldn't come close to matching the plum colored fabric but I did find identical trim to go around the bottom edge. 

My motto is, "Always try to make it look like I meant to do that!", so I decided I'd be better off going with a totally different color rather than using one that was just a bit off.  I found this green fabric, which matches one of the tassel colors and is very close in color to the loveseat in the room.

I hope you'll join me next week Tuesday for a step-by-step tutorial so you can adorn your lamps with these cute shades too!


I've been known to link up with: Soli Deo Gloria, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2sdays, Tell Me a Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, Courtship Connection, Into the Beautiful, God Bumps & God Incidences, Word-Filled Wednesday, Winsome Wednesday, Simply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays, True Vine Challenge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Monday's Musings, Monday MontrasThrive at Home, Knick of Time, Hope in Every Season, Funky Junk Interiors
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