Denim Bag Sewing Project

Looking for a sewing project that your children can do? How about a carrying bag? Recently I got out my sewing machine and made a bag out of a pair of thrift store jeans that I got for a quarter. I kid you not! I don’t know about you, but I am drawn to purchasing bags in which I can carry my school books, library books and and supplies.

I wanted a bag that I could put on the floor and not worry about if the fabric would get dirty. Jeans are the perfect material to use since the material is already pre washed and can take some rough handling. Best of all, this is a project that beginning seamstresses can make!


Instructions for Denim Bag (The picture above is not the bag I made, but it was so cute I had to feature it!)

Materials Needed: 

1 pair of jeans (the larger the jeans, the bigger the bag)


sewing machine and thread of any color


  1. Cut the pair of jeans straight across at the beginning of the legs- under the zipper. Save the legs (you’ll need them later). Cut at least half an inch below the bottoms of the back pockets and below the zipper, for seam allowance. Jeans may be cut a little wider in back than in front, so line up the waistlines in the front and back before trimming.
  2. Turn the jeans inside out. Sew across the bottom to shut the leg openings. Also sew up the sides of the divider panel to secure it. Offset thick seams in the center, so they’re not right on top of each other. Sew a 5/8 inch seam allowance from the edge of the fabric.
  3. Cut a strip at least 2 inches wide and add extra for a seam allowance down the length of one of the legs to make the strap. The outside of the leg is usually a little bit straighter. Before cutting, hold the purse up to you and determine how long you will need the strip to be for your strap. Cut the strip that length plus an additional 1inch to allow seam allowances to attach to your bag.
  4. Turn the strip inside-out, so that you are seeing the wrong side of the fabric. Sew it closed along one side, trying to keep the seam as straight as possible.
  5. Turn the strip right side out and sew the handle to the inside of your bag near the hips of the jeans.  Reinforce the stitches since this is what will take the weight of what you carry inside your bag.
  6. Accessorize bag if you like. I added a velcro strip inside to keep the bag closed.

* I had a bit of help with directions from wikihow

There are so many different types of purses you can make that I wanted to refer you to a website that has 25 different types of purses and bags, practically one for each day of the month! To see all of the wonderful designs CLICK HERE or on the picture.


Happy Sewing!  ~Lisa


Homeschool Scheduling

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-3-12-36-amIt’s already November and my intentions of keeping ahead of my lesson plans has gone by the wayside. For some reason, life just gets in the way! So, today I am going to concentrate on getting my school schedule back in order. Would you want to do this with me? Encouragement nets results, I think.  It also provides an impetus for me and holds me accountable to do this since I am writing about it. 🙂

Look at my goals. Looking at where I am currently in teaching my classes and where I need to be by winter break helps keep me on the path of forward progress. Fortunately, I am right on with two of my classes and will be back on track this week with my other class. Setting realistic goals is one of the keys to success. If I set too many then I become discouraged and feel like I am not being successful. Do you do this too? I am planning on doing two or three things on my “To Do List” today instead of five or six like I normally do.  I’ll see how that goes! I can be goofy when it comes to writing a list. I put things on my list after I have done them just so I can cross them off!

How are things with your homeschool? If you are falling behind, stop and evaluate as to why this has occurred. Is it because of your schedule? Look at your school day and time you are teaching subjects. Sometimes it helps just to rearrange things. For instance, the boys and I would work on a harder subject first and mix in an easier subject afterwards. This helped to move things along instead of being bogged down, plus it gave our brains a break.

Evaluate Outside Activities.  Right now I am evaluating  changes to my schedule as I have made a commitment to do something once a week that I didn’t anticipate when I began school this year. Many a time when I was homeschooling I took on more than I should have in regards to our commitments. Are you doing a lot of running around like I was? Is school becoming a lower priority? Stop and evaluate before the new year begins. Do you have time for these other activities? Eliminate them as much as possible if you are putting them ahead of school. Of course, if you made a commitment to teach a co-op class or volunteer, finish it, but consider what you are doing and what adjustments need to be made. Sometimes I needed to scale back and get everything at home back in order before we could do something extra. I wasn’t always successful in doing this, thus causing undue stress, which was not a good thing!

Prepare for the School Day. I get up early every day to review what topics I am teaching. This means reading through lessons and preparing anything I need to teach. I also look at what else I have to do: appointments, housework, grocery shopping, etc. I feel like when I have a mental picture of what I am doing for the day I am better prepared. If getting up early doesn’t work for you, looking at your school day the night before may serve you better.

Write lesson plans. As long as I have all of my books and papers out I might was well dig into lessons before I put everything away. The winter break will soon be here, so I am going to write my lessons to have a plan in place. I don’t like to write them out too far in advance because they may need to change. My advice is not to plan beyond two weeks because you will become frustrated and anxious if you have to change. Teaching a new concept takes time! It requires time to introduce it, time to practice what has been taught, and time to master that new idea. Oftentimes, new topics of study take more time than you originally planned for, similar to house improvement projects…  lol If you plan for extra time and don’t need it, then it’s a bonus and you can teach that subject you never seem to get around to doing, such as health or art. Or, if you have everything finished, cut loose and have fun!

Speaking of lesson plans, these can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be in order to teach. I have written plans to just have the title of a book we were reading, or writing pages of the textbook the boys were studying that day. My plans have also been as elaborate as writing the steps for a science lab. Remember, they are a guide for teaching.

Don’t you love the picture at the top of the post? I would love to be there right now; I could think more clearly and evaluate my school schedule, or write my lesson plans at the end of the trail. (probably not!) Enjoy your week.




Laundry Product Alternatives

Every once in a while I write about something besides topics that are not directly related to teaching.  Since homeschooling involves every aspect of our lives, I wanted to tell you about a couple of laundry products that I am trying out. I have been looking for natural alternatives to laundry detergent ingredients that I can’t even pronounce the names and chemical laden dryer sheets. I found two products that I have been very pleased with and wanted to share with you!

Soap Nuts When I first heard about these I couldn’t quite figure out what they were. I thought maybe I had to prepare a soapy concoction, then gather nuts (acorns or some such thing), and have the laundry soap adhere to them somehow. I am happy to report that this is not the case! Are you curious? 🙂

Soap nuts are actually called by the Latin term sapindus. It is a genus of about five to twelve species of shrubs and small trees in the Lychee family, Sapindaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions in both the Old World and New World. (wikipedia) Here is a picture of the plant. (Ooo! Ahh!)


The interesting property that these nuts have is that they release a soapy substance.The nuts are dried and harvested and sold to consumers. These nuts can be used several times for your laundry loads before they have to be thrown away. You put the nuts in a muslin bag that is provided and use 5-6 of them per load. I just have to be careful to locate the bag as I am emptying the washing machine. So far,  I am averaging 4 extra large loads per 6 nuts. It is actually cheaper than the expensive name brand soaps and the natural types of liquid detergents too. soap-nuts-laundry-soap

I have been using these for a few weeks and I think they are working quite well. There is a slight vinegar smell when the soap nuts are wet, but I can’t smell anything when the clothes come out of the washing machine. I have quite a good sense of smell too! You can add a few drops of essential oils if you like to your wash water, but I haven’t done this.  If you are interested in learning more about the product I am using, here is a link. CLICK HERE 

Wool Dryer Balls are the other new product I have been using. These New Zealand wool balls actually absorb the moisture from your clothing while they are tumbling in your dryer. They lift your clothes and help reduce static that accumulates. I bought a package of 6, and while the directions say you do not need to use all of them in your loads, I have found that I need to use all of them if I am drying a large to extra large load.  If I use fewer of them, the clothes are not quite dry and there is a little bit of static.

Overall, I am pleased with the wool balls and just need to be careful taking out the clothes as they want to roll out onto the floor. I just leave them in the dryer instead of removing them every time. They are surprisingly dry and I do not think they will mildew if I do this. They are supposed to last for several years and I am sure that depends upon how many times per week you have to use them. I am figuring that if they last a couple of years I will have saved money over buying dryer sheets. Here is a link if you would like to check out a description of this type of product. CLICK HERE



By the way, I am not being paid to give a review on either of these products. 🙂 I was wanting to share some ways I am trying to take care of my family without breaking the piggy bank. Have a great day!


Filing School Papers

f84c6308b877dacf70ce1522c1dc786bSchool has begun and I am already feeling the crush of paperwork bearing down upon me! Am I the only one  feeling this way?  Ugh! Are you feeling the crush too? How can you document your school year to be able to show me (an Ohio certified assessor) how much your student accomplished without feeling horrible about the lack of organization?

Now is the time to begin so that you are not overwhelmed in the spring by all of the paperwork that has been accumulating. You can organize papers so that all you have to do is contact me to set up your portfolio review. No wading through papers and workbooks, deciding on what to take. I am giving you a list of ideas to help organize and discard papers so that your house is not overrun by math papers, science labs, maps, and workbook pages.  Pick and choose from the items listed, but do not do every one of them! 🙂 Hopefully, one of these will work for you as your child finishes their school work.

Create a binder for each subject to put a sample in it. This can be done every Friday, or it can be collected once a month. If you are collecting samples monthly, just pick the same time each month; ideally, the beginning or end.

Use folders to place a work sample of each subject. Using different colors for subjects will help you to have an easy filing system. For instance, a yellow folder for language arts, a red folder for math, etc., that you can quickly drop a sample into the appropriate subject folder. At the end of the year you can grab the folders and put them in a cute school bag to take with you.

Accordion pleated file systems for each of your children keeps everything organized in one convenient location. You can label the tabs with subjects for filing. An assessor does not need to see every scrap of paper and doodle that your scholar has done. Trust yourself and choose paperwork and samples that represent the work being completed.


Hanging folders with labeled tabs of the subjects are an efficient and out-of- sight way to organize paperwork. I have a four drawer filing cabinet that I recently acquired and I wonder how I have lived without it for all of these years!

Binder Clips Gather each month’s samples of work and  clip them according to the subject. Place in a folder and label the month or the subject, whatever is best for you.

Systems that I have tried and do not work well in my opinion are:

baskets– everything falls to the bottom and nothing is organized. I just have to go through the heap at a later time!

rectangular plastic containers or filing boxes- the same as mentioned above. I just have more time to keep adding papers to the jumble that is collecting and multiplying. Now, if you actually use the file box and put folders in it, then it is a thing of beauty (sigh).

cloth bags– another collection sight that I never look at until I can’t find something. In fact, the other day I was trying to find some files that I thought were in my filing cabinet and I stumbled upon this bag that was filled to the brim with who-knows- what. I felt that I should look into it as it had been sitting near a bookshelf for several months. I was pleasantly surprised and quite relieved that is was the files for which I was looking! Needless to say, the cloth bag was a terrible filing system.

What, pray tell, do I keep when gathering samples?  I kept one page of a concept that had been introduced or mastered. If introduced, I added a paper later that showed progress (or not 😦 ) and then mastery or  continued help. I did not always follow through with the concept, but I tried to as much as possible. Allow your child to select samples to showcase too. Many children are interested in what I think of their work and are excited to show me things they have done. It can also help them to put forth their best and take pride in their work.

Throughout the year if my student had a difficult time with a concept, I would pick out that paper and write on a post-it note what was the difficulty. This helped me see progress that is made throughout the year or something I needed to evaluate or ask for help to have my student understand the concept.

If your student is doing schoolwork online, then see if there is a progress report, quiz or test that can be printed off to include in your files. If not, take pictures throughout the year of screenshots of work. You do not necessarily need to print off the pictures, but put them in a file that you back up regularly.

If you are using workbooks and don’t want to tear out papers until the end of the year you can use those cool skinny post-it note flags.  You can mark the pages throughout the year that  you want to take to your portfolio review appointment. It will take just a few minutes in the spring to remove the pages.

If you are going on field trips throughout the year, take pictures! I love seeing all of the places homeschool families visit. You can send pictures to me prior to your appointment or bring your camera along. One homeschool family makes a yearbook that I enjoy reviewing.

Do you have a project that is too big or a map or timeline you have created that is on the wall? You can snap a photograph of that too or create a video! No need to bring it with you. I understand the amount of time and hard work that has gone into projects.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have questions. I will be happy to address them.

Have a great week!