Friday, December 30, 2011

This Moment: Monkey See, Monkey Do

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

~Amanda Soule

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Monkey see, Monkey do. Fake getting stuck in the bed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cheese Making

I FINALLY got to make cheese!

I have had my recipe on hand literally for weeks. I had even purchased all my ingredients. I pulled everything out to attempt to make it one day, when it dawned on me I didn't have cheesecloth! Oops. A sign of an amateur! So my project got put on hold again.

We had a hard time finding the cheesecloth at the store. For weeks I couldn't find it. While Christmas shopping one afternoon I spotted some in a oddball place at the market and snatched it up. I don't even think I looked at the price tag~I literally grabbed it off the hook and tossed it in the cart. I had found it and it was going to be mine! (Lucky for me, it was only $3; if it had been too pricey I might have been rethinking my cheese making ambitions). I got that scratched off my list. But then my youngest daughter, J(1), is a milk feen and she kept drinking up all my whole milk. Trying to have whole milk on hand when I was ready was a chore.

This morning, the stars were in alignment! I had ALL my ingredients on hand, I had my cheesecloth, and I had the time.

The process of making cheese is actually very simple. It was the preparation for the recipe that was the only pain in the butt.

I found my recipe here, but I posted it as well for you for your convenience:

Iris flourish

Make Your Own Soft Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1½ cups
1quart whole milk
1cup heavy cream
4T distilled white vinegar 

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk and cream and cook about 10 minutes or just until steam begins to rise from the surface and small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. DO NOT BOIL.
  2. Remove from heat and gently stir in the vinegar.
  3. Let sit, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. The mixture will separate into curds and whey. (Remember Miss Muffet?)
  4. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it in a deep, medium-size bowl.
  5. Spoon the curds into the strainer; the whey will run through the cheesecloth.
  6. Discard the whey.
  7. Cover and refrigerate curds in the strainer and bowl for at least 4 hours, to continue draining. (You can also leave overnight.)
  8. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and break it up in a small bowl.
  9. Serve plain or stir in your choice of flavor blends * (the flavor blend recipes below make enough for one batch).
  10. Line a small ramekin or vintage gelatin mold with cheesecloth and press flavored cheese into mold. (I didn't have a mold, so I just used a Tupperware bowl).
  11. Tip onto serving plate and remove cheesecloth.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Art Unveiling

The time has come, Christmas has passed, that now I can share with you what I was working on during the Advent season. I had two new commissions that changed my crafting plans for the holiday a bit, but were very much worth it. The pictures were commissioned as Christmas gifts so I was asked to keep them hush-hush until after the fact.

Now for the unveiling . . .

As always, I enjoy making my art. For me it is not about the art or money--but how my art can help others. I'm still discovering how to do that. It's a little pieces of the story like this, after the art leaves my easel, that make me think I'm on the right path:

. . . I had to giver her the picture in the parking lot. I got it on tape . One of the ladies of her dept was there on a smoke break as well.

You should have heard the 2 of them, they couldn't believe it, at first, they didn't think it was a drawing, they thought it was a picture!! When I told them you drew it, they were in disbelief. They both said what everyone else said that I showed the picture to "I feel like I can just reach out and touch her " meaning A*** in the picture, because you got it that close to real life.

Personal Portraits are your specialty because you really capture the spirit of the person, like I said before not many people can do that.
When you see the video, you will see what your work does for people.

A**** gave me a great big hug and said it was "The Best Present I EVER got" . . . I know this picture meant the world to her, because this time it was about HER !!!!!! I couldn't have given her anything better :-)

SO C*****'s picture, came out beautifully framed !! C***** opened it and didn't realize it was a drawing, said this is Beautiful and then asked me, "where did I find it?" then S**** said "Look at the signature " then C***** said "Get the Hell out of here" She was in disbelief too. I'm not sure if I got hers on tape, if I do will send that down too. I got a new camera and still learning it.

She loved it and could not believe the amount of detail . All the girls at work want to know if you realize what kind of money you can command for these types of drawings. A few people said you need to draw these pictures and keep them going , as you can always sell them at a later time .

I proudly said that I am going to be your agent and will make you famous !!!

You are on your way to something Special !!! One thing people love is pictures of themselves, loved ones, deceased , babies and their pets !!!!

So as I enter the New Year, wish me luck and offer me prayers as I begin St. Catherine's Apprentice: Fine Art & Commissions by Carrie Goad. St. Catherine of Bologna is the patron saint of artists, who is my patron saint. I have always forsaken her in the past, wishing I had gone rather with St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases, which I believed to be better suited for me :) I figured it was time to pay St. Catherine the homage due her. I ask for prayers for confidence--which I lack--and divine guidance--which I need--as I begin this venture. Let it about what my art can do for others and not merely about the art itself or the money it can provide for my family.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adoration Farewell

I didn't think I was going to miss my adoration hour this much.

I completed my final adoration hour yesterday morning at 5am. A new adorer will take over in January. For those who don't know what perpetual adoration is, you can read more about it here. I have been going to adoration for a few years now, at one hour or another during the middle of night. People were always shocked when I told them I did adoration from 2-3am or 4-5 am, whatever it would be. I joked that with all my kids the only time I have to myself is during the night! Over the years I was even asked to become the 3-4am adoration hour coordinator, keeping in touch with and being the go-between for the main chapel coordinators and the weekly adorers for my hour.

My story is one of a Catholic convert, in sorts. I was raised in a non-practicing Catholic family. Baptised Catholic, but that was about the extent. It wasn't until I was about 23 years old that I came into the Church. You can read part of my conversion story here. My conversion was in a way half-asked on my part. I attended RCIA but not because I wanted to become Catholic, per say, but for ulterior motives. In fact, I went in not even believing in God! Things started happening though. It felt sort of like magnetism~some sort of magnetic pull that kept pulling me in little by little despite myself and my resistance. The funny thing is is that I began adoration in this fashion. I actually recall walking from my car, across the church parking lot to the adoration chapel, asking myself what in the world was I doing waking up at odd hours of the night, losing sleep, to drive into church and spend time alone in  a room before the Blessed Eucharist that I wasn't even sure that I believed in? I started adoration thinking I was crazy for doing it! But that ol' magnetic pull had a hold of me and I just let myself go with it. Let it be.

Here I am YEARS later. Many, many adoration hours later. I am six and half months pregnant with our sixth baby. The adoration coordinators went through a dry spell with signing up new adorers to cover all the hours for the week, especially the midnight hours. It was taking months to find replacements and fill-ins. Being on the committee I knew this and turned in my resignation with plenty of notice, expecting it to months to find a new taker for my hour. I wanted to leave with a smooth transition from one adorer to the next, not leaving a gap to be filled.  As I've done with my last two pregnancies, I was expecting to keep up with my hour until I delivered my babies. Against my expectations, it took all of about a month to find a replacement.

So here I am saying my farewell to perpetual adoration for the unforeseeable future. I pray I'll be back, but as to when, I cannot say. I will have my baby and take take my maternity leave. When the time is right, and my baby is sleeping through the night, God will call me back. I will miss it. I have been through a lot~and I do mean A LOT~ over these years and the adoration chapel has been my refuge. I have found faith, and lost it. I have laid down my worries at Jesus' feet. I have cried numerous tears. I have shared enthusiasm and spiritual breakthroughs. I have laid prostrate before the Lord out of sheer desperation. I have met a criminal visitor and shared faith.
It has been my piece of silence in this noisy world; my slice of peace in this crazy, chaotic cosmos. My father once forwarded me an email when I was going through some rough times. It said something along the lines that two artists were asked to create a picture of their interpretation of the meaning of peace. The first guy painted a lovely, calm, serene nature scene. The second artist, on the other hand, painted a little birds nest out on a branch. In the background, a dangerous storm was thrashing all about the nest, while inside the little bird was sleeping as if in a bubble~peaceful and safe. The moral of the story, peace is internal not external. Alone with Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist, that little adoration room became a representation of my own little peace bubble like the one that surrounded the little sleeping bird. While the world and all that goes with it thrashes dangerously about me threatening my livelihood, my faith, my marriage, my family. . .here, with Jesus I find internal peace~rest~and come back weekly to renew that peace. It is my sanctuary. But peace is internal, not external--so now I take what I have learned and experienced during my years of adoration out into the world. Now I must keep my peace bubble on my own amidst the wolves. I must remind myself always, no matter where I am, I am always and forever in a peace bubble with Jesus surrounded by God--nothing can harm me. I can rest peacefully like that little birdy, I need not fear. I can look at this is a chance to grow spiritually. If I feel myself growing week, I can always return for a visit--24 hours a day, 7 days a week :)

For anyone who has never been to an adoration chapel, here is a glimpse of what my parish's looks like~images of a peace bubble. Things I will miss:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas EveTradition

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday. While I feel like I just went through a whirlwind Christmas season~barely being able to catch my breath~our Christmas turned out well. We visited family, attended Christmas Mass, ate lots of food, and the kids enjoyed themselves. What more could you ask for?

I wanted to share one of my family's Christmas Eve traditions. Whenever I say that word, tradition, the song from Fiddler on the Roof, one of my all time favorite movies, plays through my mind (**chuckle**). Sorry, I'm getting a kick out of it :) Any who, my grandmother on my father's side is Italian. This recipe was passed done from my grandmother, by her mother, etc~like I said: Tradition!
Every Christmas Eve we go up to my parent's house and my mother, my daughters, and I make a homemade pasta called cavatellis (which we, in our Americanized ways, pronounce them gov-a-deals ??).

And after all the hard work . . .

Some Italian Yumminess.

Friday, December 23, 2011

This Moment: Christmas Recital

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

~Amanda Soule

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Our daughter, C, gave a solo Christmas concert for my husband and I in her bedroom. The pictures are bad, taken from my cell phone, but the moment was priceless--especially considering the keyboard is one of those where the keys light up to tell you which key to play~it plays on it's own :) but she practiced and practiced ever so hard alone in her room for hours prior to putting on the show.  It's little moments like this I want to savor, as I'm discovering already with oldest daughter (12), that it will not be too much longer and she won't want to do these little things any more for her parents~she'll be too busy growing up.


Homemade Holidays: Stocking Stuffers

Filling a stocking can take a small fortune. While we do put in some candy, we try not to over do it. We realize a stocking wouldn't be a stocking without some treats, however, the last thing my kids need is a huge amount of sugar. Okay, lets get real, the last thing this mama needs is a house full of five sugared up kids! So we add little toys and such. Those little trinkets add up though, so this year I thought I'd create some stocking stuffers the kids would enjoy and fill out their stockings. Here are a couple of my ideas:

I discovered a wonderful site called The Toymaker. There is section for free paper toys. You print, cut, and glue some really neat little paper craft toys. Take a look for yourself here. Unfortunately, my printer pooped out on me not too long ago. While not being fully functional, it works a bit--enough for us to get by for homeschool purposes just not for quality images. I will be replacing it shortly, but with all the money going out at the moment with the holiday, the regular bills, and the midwife, it has had to take a backseat. I will be trekking to my mother's office (all of a few miles) to borrow her printer for these. The plan is simply to print out a few for each of my older girls and either put them in some sort of envelope or use the shrink wrap I spoke of yesterday, to give them a nice "gift" look. Then at another time, my girls can have fun cutting them out and gluing them together themselves--a little activity for them to do.

Another idea I have--which also requires a printer, go figure, unless you happen to be one of those who have physical photos on hand, which I am not--are popsicle stick puzzles. I found a great tutorial here. You can find directions and tips/hints all over the Internet for this activity. I especially liked the idea on this site for adding magnets to the back of the puzzle for use on a magnet board, or for us--the refrigerator. While I'll be being make one~or more~ for all four of my older girls, I thought the magnets would be nice for O(3). You need a picture, thick popsicle sticks, an exacto knife, and Modge Podge. You glue the sticks to the back of the picture and carefully cut them apart. Place the pieces in a bag and you're finished. Quick and easy! I thought I'd find a nice picture~a special moment~of each of the girls to make a puzzle out for them. You can use family photos but any image would do--favorite TV or story characters, animals, famous works of art, etc. . . Be creative! I tell ya, as a homeschooling mom, the endless educational possibilities of these for my preschooler gets me excited. I foresee a lot of popsicle stick puzzles in our future.

*P.S. I bought my thick popsicle sticks from the craft store for $2-$3.  After I already purchased them I saw some at the Dollar Tree for a buck. You might want to try your local dollar store first.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Holidays: Kittens in a Basket

I was so excited about this Christmas season and all the homemade gifts I planned to make. I had a number of projects lined up, just itching to get to them. Sadly, plans changed and most of them had to be put on the back burner. Out of everything I had planned, I managed to complete one gift! They’re called A Litter of Kittens in a Basket, or as I like to call them --"Coraline Kittens", after the movie with the characters with button eyes. I started them good and early back in November. I made them with my signature Mama-made love ~in other words they're not made with perfection only lots of love~ for O(3) this Christmas. These little fellas are so ugly they're cute in my opinion. I got the idea from the blog Doing Without. You can get the instructions and template here.

I followed the bulk of the directions but changed it up just a tad with a few variations. I used left over fabric from the baby quilt and apron. The embroidery floss I borrowed from my daughter’s bracelet making stash.  The stuffing is reused from a small, old, unplayed with, cheap teddy bear. And the basket and little buttons I scored from my mother’s craft closet. So, when all was said and done it cost me $0 to make my kittens!!

My basket was a little bigger than I would of liked. I tried keeping an eye out for a slightly smaller one while I was out doing my Christmas shopping, but didn't see anything. To remedy that I made a quick little pillow to go on the bottom of the basket and a blanket. They fill the basket but will also give O a bed to play with for her kitties as well.

To finish it off, my mother bought some of that clear window shrink wrap for the windows in her drafty office. She had a bunch left over she passed on to me. Not only does it work for windows, you can use it for shrink wrapping gifts. To give my kittens that official gift look I will shrink wrap the basket to give O something to tear into for an extra excitement factor~

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Nursing Home Visit

I believe the greatest of all human sufferings is to feel alone. Visit someone this week who needs your company. You will bring the light of Christ to that person's life and you will learn more than you think.
- Mustard Seeds

My girls are blessed to be a part of a small, but fruitful Junior Legion of Mary group at our church. Aside from weekly meetings, they go out and do good works for the community. One these good deeds is visiting a local nursing. For this visit the kids made and decorated Christmas cards for the residents. We walked throughout the home, passing them out and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

The kids always have a good time during these visits, and the residents seem to enjoy it. O(3) got the hang of it fast and got to hand out cards with the big kids.  

 Our small group of Legionaries. Out of respect and dignity for the residents, I didn't snap any photos inside the homes. But I figured between buildings was fair game!

My goofball troop :) My oldest was at school-she didn't get to participate this time. I had to snap a picture fast, getting them all together lasts only a split second.

There is much suffering in the world - physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Time to Breathe

Finally! A week before Christmas--December mostly over--I have finally come to a place where I can take the time to breathe.

December has come and gone so fast it has left my head spinning and me scrambling to catch my barrings. Not exactly what I had in mind and anticipated for my Advent.

Slow. Intentional. Meditative. Spiritual. Meaningful.

These are some of the descriptive words I would have used. It has been anything but! Such is life. I have been busily working on drawings, finishing them up in the nick-of-time (more on those later). I had wanted to slowly pull together my child's Christmas gifts over time, but finances said otherwise. We couldn't even begin our Christmas shopping--not one single gift-- until this past Saturday. Hence, the no blog posting for Saturday--we were out and about with absolutely no spare time for that. A big thank you to my parents, who took my four older kids for the better part of the weekend to allow that to happen. My husband and I had to do a whirlwind shopping spree, but we got it done. I even got them wrapped and stashed at my mothers nearby office to keep them from prying eyes. In addition to the Holiday preparations, I have had to keep up the homeschooling, and the house cleaning, and the bills, the social events, add in a December birthday, a doctor's appointment, a midwife appointment. . . .AHHHHHHHHHH!

It's been too much. Just trying to keep my sanity has been a chore. I don't know if I always succeeded.

But the time has come. The storm has passed. Now the calm. With all those things behind me and a week off of homeschooling, I can take this time to slow down--center myself. Savor the moments. I get a week to do a little housecleaning (not too much, that can wait for the New Year; but a much needed general cleaning is required).  I get a week to get around to some holiday baking. My girls and I will be cookie making machines--we have a variety of recipes lined up. Hopefully, even more then making cookies, we can make some warm holiday memories for them. I can take a week to meditate and spiritually prepare myself for Jesus' birth--the whole reason for the December hoopla (though it wasn't meant to be that way--the hoopla, I mean). Again, such is life. . .

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

You know what this is? Time to breathe. This is what I needed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This Moment: Running Water

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
~Amanda Soule

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

"I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
~Anna Quindlen

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Birthday Celebrated

We celebrated my A's ninth birthday yesterday! Boy it does not take long for the years to pass and little ones to grow up. In our large family, we do not throw birthday parties, per say. Instead, as a family, we celebrate that person--they are the honorary member for one whole day. We try to make it as special and fun as possible for them.

My husband started A's birthday, by going out early before he left for work to grab some donuts and hot chocolate from Dunkin' Donuts. This is a special treat in our family.

With the exception of my oldest daughter, V(12), we are a homeschooling family. As another way to make the day important, we declare the day a holiday and are not required to do schoolwork. A(9) chose to use her free day to bake a birthday cake from scratch. She loves to bake.

I had to bite my tongue, trying to remember today was her day, and these are the moments we are supposed to cherish. Inside though, as a mother, this mess in my kitchen was killing me.

This was her, as well as my, first time making a cake completely from scratch. A and C made the cake, I was just there for supervisory purposes. A chose a chocolate cake with buttercream icing.

Throughout the course of the day, A had many well-wishers letting her know she was not forgotten. She had cards, phone calls, and numerous postings via my Facebook page wishing her a Happy Birthday. Thank you to all who left messages making her feel special and remembered! It meant a lot.

And that apron I made for myself last week--that apron of my own--is no longer my own. I remain apronless! Anna fell in love with it so I gifted it her.

As a gift from my her Nana, she received her very own MaryJane Sisterhood Membership! She is now an official Young Cultivator, as they're called. She can begin earning her own badges. I cannot tell you how excited she was to receive this. Nana put together a little membership kit for her to begin her badge earning endeavours. She spent all evening reading through it and picking out which projects she wanted to do first. I'll be keeping you posted on her badges :)
For dinner, her father made her favorite--steak and baked potatoes. And then we ended the evening with her cake and candles.

She was tickled pink that I was dedicating a blog post just for her--another way to celebrate my A!

We couldn't do it on the day of her birthday, but A wanted to visit the mall and spend her birthday money she received from her great-grandmother. We don't go to the mall often so this too is a treat. We will be fighting the Christmas mall crowds and having part 2 of her birthday this weekend. She'll receive a few gifts from her father and I as we enjoy (hopefully) an afternoon of shopping.

Our simply way of celebrating A, made her day. She felt special and loved--that is what birthdays are about.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work in Progress: Do It Anyway

This is a project of mine that is still in the works. I got the idea for this craft from Catholic Icing. The technique is quite simple. You write out your message on a piece of fabric using Elmer's school glue. Let it dry. Create a wash, mixing 3 parts acrylic paint, 1 part water. Paint the entire fabric-glue and all. Let it dry again. Throw in the washer machine, warm wash/gentle cycle. Voila! Lacy, of Catholic Icing, made a table runner out of her fabric but the possibilities are endless!

I've painted mine, I just haven't gotten around to the sewing part of the project yet.

My phrase, Life is between me and God, was inspired from a poem written by Mother Teresa called, "Do It Anyway." It's a little reminder to myself to be me. By no means in a selfish or self-centered way--just that the choices I make, the things I do, and the way I live require no approval from the outside world. It's a simple lesson that can be tough to learn. In fact, it's taken me 30 years to reach this point--to begin to find my voice. I've personally spent far too long trying to make others proud or wanting to be what I'm not because it's the "socially acceptable" thing to be/do. But, you know what, in the end life is about me and God. God made each one us of different and unique with  seperate paths we have to follow. As long as I'm being true to God and myself--the rest doesn't matter. I'm learning to enjoy life as me, Carrie.

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree . . .

My family started a new Christmas tradition this year. Since the time our family began, we have used a fake tree. It was practical, but always seemed to lack something. This year we donated that tree to a local Assistance Ministry to find it a new home with someone less fortunate who could appreciate it. In lieu of our fake tree, we started the first year of our family's new custom of going together and picking out a real tree. A huge part of Christmas for me are the experiences you have together as a family--the bonding and creating memories. This is one little way of adding another tradition for my kids to remember and to look forward to each year.

This past weekend we got our very first live Christmas tree! It is so wonderful to have a live tree in my house. It has that living factor that my fake tree lacked. It's bringing a bit of nature indoors. And my god, does it's evergreen scent smell marvelous! I love it, love it, love it! While we didn't physically get to cut it down at a farm as we attended (we'll try for that next year) we still had a great time, had some good laughs, lots of smiles, and made memories. Mission complete.

V helping O pick a candy cane off Santa's tree.

O having a blast amongst all the trees.

She found one her size.

V and J, trying to stay warm on a very chilly day.

Our tree comes home!

The finished, or should I say unfinished, product! Our tree's appearance will morph over time as J(15mos) pulls the decorations off the tree and they get moved higher and higher. By the time Christmas rolls around the tree will be top heavy with ornaments and the entire bottom will be bare!

You can see the morphing has already begun! The bottom has less ornaments than the top and we just put it up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Apron of My Own

I finished sewing my first apron! Does the fabric look familiar? It's the leftovers from my baby quilt. Making that money I spent on the fabric stretch even farther! It won't be the last time you see it either. I have another project in the works that I used the scraps on as well. But that's for another post :)

This apron is to fulfill my MaryJane Aprons Beginner Level badge. Aprons are a must in the sisterhood. At the present moment I have none of my own. My daughter, A, has one that I borrow from time to time when I need one in the kitchen. This will be just the first of many in my one-day-to-be apron collection.

For the badge I needed to:

Sew a half apron of your choice from a pattern or a kit. There is a two-hour minimum time investment required. Wear an apron whenever you are in the kitchen.

I got this apron design out of the Mary Jane's Idea Book, Cook Book, Life Book that I speak of frequently. I like this one. The brown patterned fabric is not only for aesthetics, it doubles as a large pocket! That will come in very handy with my little ones. I am forever picking up nick-knacks or carrying things around that I either need or just need to put away. Now I have a nifty, little, pocketed apron to assist me in my mommy duties. However, as far as the kitchen goes, I'm a mess! I might eventually add a simple fabric piece with a neck strap to the top of the apron to protect my shirts--and my growing big belly, that is forever getting in the way--while cooking. Or that just gives me reason to add a second apron to my collection for cooking purposes in the future. And that will earn me the Intermediate Level Apron badge!