A Sailbag for A Sailor

It has been a long time since I have sewn anything. A Long Time.

Last year I taught sewing classes for children and I also sewed for my girls production of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, but I don’t count those things as sewing. They are creative and sometimes fun, but they are work. Work can be fun, but it can also be stressful. People ask me all the time if I have sewn the dress I’m wearing or the purse I’m carrying and the answer is always no. I’ve been tired out and drained of all sewing fun.

Until now.

Every summer I travel to New Jersey to visit my family. We do so many fun activities. And…we all just love to hang out. This post is about my sister-in-law Bettie. I say that for technical reasons (married to my brother David) so you can put the pieces together, but for the rest of this post, she is just my sister Bettie.

Bettie is a sailor. She grew up by the water and on the water. She and David came to San Diego last year and we rented a boat and went sailing. It was the most beautiful day and a memory I will forever hold. But I digress…


Hanging out one day, Bettie told me about these amazing bags that are all the rage–sailbags. I had never heard of them, probably for two reasons: I am not a sailor, and not very cool. These bags are made of old sailboat sails. So, not only are they pretty cool looking, but they have history and blemishes from the wind battles on the water. Honestly, I didn’t think much about it. I thought it was a cool idea and probably told her I’d look them up sometime, but I don’t think I did because then we were on to the next activity.

The next time I saw Bettie, she told me about these bags again, only this time she said she could never buy one for herself because of the cost. Now my sister is incredibly good with money and in my opinion needs to spoil herself more…as in even once!!! I started to file some ideas away which grew exponentially when the next five times I saw her, she brought up these amazing sailbags again and again. Fine, Bettie. You are going to get a sailbag!!!!!

My mind was made up and I brought David into my scheming plan. It was his job to get me a sail.

David got a hold of Bettie’s brother and an old sail that was in the family. He apologized via text when he sent it out that he didn’t have time to clean it and I didn’t mind. I was happy to have the sail. But boy, you can imagine when I opened that box…let’s just say this was a well used sail.

I’m going to show you via pictures the story of the creation of Bettie’s bag. It was so much fun to make and the secrecy was definitely part of how much fun it was. Enjoy! And I may have some commentary along the way.


Here is the uncut sail. You can see I traced out how I wanted the front panel to look.


Front and back panels cut out.


Scrubbing off mildew and stench. I also threw all the pieces into the washing machine twice with like a gallon of oxy-clean.


Cutting out the blue vinyl. I haven’t really worked with vinyl very much. It likes to move when you sew it. I cut out this little anchor for fun thinking if she didn’t like it she could just cut it off.


Back piece with vinyl.


Sides and bottom pieces put together. I wanted the bottom to be vinyl for extra support. Who knows what she’ll want to carry in this thing? Last thing I heard she brought a heavy case of beer back from Canada for David.


Hardware. (Oh, notice the liquid dish detergent below? You don’t usually see that on a sewing table!)






Time to work on the lining now.


Hidden zipper pocket on one side.


Top zipper panel.


Lining shell.


Time to put the bag together!


Straps pinned on. Not sure how I’m going to sew through that thickness without an industrial machine.


My last dilemma. I can’t sew through this thickness.

“Hello? Megs? Can I send Bettie’s bag for you to sew at work for me?”



And off she goes to Megan who is now in on the great secret present for Bettie.

And yesterday, this happened!


Happy Birthday Bettie!IMG_2740





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Mourning Into Joy

For some reason, I have been struggling with joy. For those of you who know me, you usually see a huge smile on my face, a loud obnoxious laugh escape my mouth, and a constant twinkle in my eye. This is a part of my life, but it isn’t a constant reality.

My dad, Lenny Smith, recently had a pretty severe heart-attack. I live in San Diego, across the country from New Jersey and was in a horrible state of limbo in what do do. I was ready to fly out in a heart-beat. I was told not to because what would I do? sit there in the hospital with all of my other siblings? I was able to come out and visit when his heart was healing and my father was in a much healthier state, but to be so far away from family during such a crisis and hardship was absolutely heart-breaking.

One night I was listening to a pod-cast from my East Coast Pastor, Dan Fessler, and a gentleman stepped forward to offer a prophesy for my dad, Lenny Smith. You can imagine my excitement hearing someone talk about my dad across the country especially since I hadn’t seen him since his heart-attack. This man shared a scripture from Jeremiah about the old men dancing with the young and talked about how my father loved to go up to the front of the church and dance even though he wasn’t skilled, he had joy and love. I furiously wrote down the scripture and picked up my guitar to write this song, “Lenny’s Song” or “Mourning Into Joy.” It’s a song for my dad. It’s a song for all of us.

Now is the time to turn your mourning into joy. It needs to be a conscious decision from us. Watch a little less TV, read a little less news, do something that brings your great joy. Paint a picture, sew something, read a book for pleasure, cook a souffle, get out of your rut in life and choose to bring some joy into it. Do something fun! I’m going to take a ballet class and I haven’t taken one in 20 years. It’s going to hurt. And, it’s going to be fun.

Love, Rachel



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Daniel Smith–Nurse, Tree, Uniform, ART!

Merry Christmas everyone! Today I am going to post about my brother Daniel Smith! He has some very exciting news….


I have some very exciting news for you! Most of you know my brother Daniel Smith as the front man of Danielson (Danielson Famile) and he has been seen throughout the years in all sorts of fashions. Let me show you a couple.

Danielson Nurses

Bro. Danielson at Real Art Ways - Hartford, CN


Singing in the field behind our house

Daniel Cheeks


For Daniel, the music has always gone hand in hand with the visual arts (obviously). For his college thesis he created tangible artwork that went hand in hand with the music he performed. Along with music, Daniel has continued to create art in pretty majestic proportions. Here are a couple of pieces that became album art.

Tri Danielson

The Tri-Danielson Album Art was an enormous mosaic. I remember a bunch of us rallying to get it finished by the deadline. This thing was a monster.


Lenny Smith’s “Deep Calls To Deep” album art was an enormous wood carving. It now hangs on the wall in my Dad’s office.

For the first time EVER, Daniel has offered up some artwork for sale! You need to stay connected because I know that his collection will continue to grow. There is a range of sizes and prices which will accommodate different purses. Nothing  would be more special to give to your wonderful friend or family member than a piece of my brother’s art. These Giclee prints are made from full sized wood carvings. You can see the textured wood and details in the pictures below.

Heartburn Hotel

Heartburn Hotel Print

“It’s a giant overloaded/overworked brain”


Like A Vacuum

Like A Vacuum Print

“It’s a beat up tree but the colorful roots are happily drinking up a storm”


Get into the mood of the art. Listen to Danielson’s “Like A Vacuum” and read the lyrics below:

Listen up!
If I were a tree my branches would be broken,
but my roots would be so deep I’d be
sucking water like a vacuum,
talkin’ about living water.
Spring days were made for being bad
I ain’t got that deep physical pain thing happening.
Spring days were made for being bad.
I still got that deep physical pain thing happening.
Spring days are no longer made for being bad,
I ain’t got that deep physical pain thing happening.
(Wear + tear = prayer)
I like to laugh so hard I can’t function.
(Wear + tear = prayer)
I may appear to be silly but I laugh more than you do,
who’s laughing.
I like to laugh so hard but I still gotta function.
I can’t function…. I’m still functioning.

I don’t know if there are pictures floating around, but when Daniel first had us perform this song we were wearing “feelers” on our heads.



Click and BUY on links below. I feel no shame plugging my brother!

Heartburn Hotel Print

Like A Vacuum Print

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THANK YOU for Galaxy Art

Our week of Thankfulness continues and so I continue to think of Glen Galaxy and his awesome worship album, THANK YOU. For those of you who would like to know this, there are FREE LEAD SHEETS available so that you can play and sing along.

Lead Sheets

A perfect time to have these lead sheets  would be on that EXTREMELY unusual occasion when you are tired and grumpy. This really never happens to me as you all know I am so happy and cheerful ALL OF THE TIME. It also never really happens that my husband Jon would physically take down my guitar and make me go outside to worship and get my attitude adjusted. He doesn’t really do that on a regular basis AT ALL.

Jon Scolds

We all know that this is simply an example that you might experience in your own home and in those instances it would be nice to have those “Thank You” lead sheets!


Today I’m also going to share with you some really interesting things about Glen Galaxy that you may not know. We all know that he is a musical genius, but did you know that he is also extremely passionate about creating art?

Glen Art

Glen likes to collect interesting pictures. He is constantly on the lookout for this media of inspiration which goes into a box until it is time for it to be transformed…or boxes; many many boxes as Cathleen his wife would say.

Art B

Glen Art D

From these snippets of inspiration come amazing unique pieces of art. Here is just a small collection I will share with you today.


Glen Art B





Emotional Oil cover Art 

This is a man who has a plethora of talents! To see more of Glen Galaxy’s amazing pieces of art, go and visit his FLICKR SITE


Here is Octagrape playing “Eternal Hair”

Octagrape and Jad Fair live at Craftlab Gallery

Links To Click On!

Glen Galaxy’s Thank You
Soul Junk
Great Comfort Records
Sounds Familyre Records

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Monday Musings

This is the week to be thankful for all things. In the spirit of thankfulness I’m going to write about my brother-in-law Glen Galloway, aka:

Glen Galaxy

Many of you may know Glen from his various bands of the past and present such as: Trumans Water, Soul Junk, and now Octagrape.


Glen is one of the busiest people I know; lately he has been on a couple tours back to back with Octagrape. The one constant that you need to know about Glen is that wherever he is and whatever he is doing, he is a worshipper. He knows who he is in relationship with his Father. I was honored to have him at the Awake My Lyre Worship Conference in Philadelphia where he sang and shared his heart of the Father with us. Glen is the perfect example of living and moving in the creative freedom in which God created him. I look at my brother Glen and am so inspired by him. He creates and creates and creates and creates with no apologies and no expectations.

Glen Galloway

So today I share with you the MOST AMAZING worship album out there today. It is entitled, “THANK YOU.”

Thank You 

This album will make your heart and spirit sing like it never has before. Glen lets you peek into his raw and real relationship with Father. The lyrics will powerfully transport you and move you in the spirit. It’s amazing to listen to music that literally strips you down to your sonship.


I first met Glen in 1997 on the Soul Junk/Danielson tour.

Danielson_Soul Junk Tour

As you can see in this picture, we are all pretty young. “Tour” was by no means a glamorous experience and the prospect of a shower was simply heaven. Us Smith kids were well trained by Marian and we were prepared to sleep on floors with a pad, sleeping bag, pillow, and of course a sheet so you didn’t get sweaty from the sleeping bag. But, I digress.

I will never forget the morning after sleeping on a floor of the most disgusting house in the world (which was occupied by girls). Megan and I played a game called, “If you touch anything, you die!” We all opted not to take showers in the morning which is unheard of after playing and sweating on stage the night before. Anyways, Daniel was working on his tangled bedhead and Glen told him he shouldn’t fight the hairstyle that the Lord gave him for the day. We had a lot of fun and made each other laugh a lot.

Enjoy this video of Glen singing, “Living Water.” Spread the Great Comfort and pick up THANK YOU.



Important Links to Click on:

Great Comfort Records
Glen Galaxy
Soul Junk
Sounds Familyre Records

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Thursday Thoughts

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When I was a teenager my dad Lenny Smith asked my sister Megan and I if we wanted to make some extra money and help him on a construction site job. We both agreed and all day we had to drag roof shingles with large nails in them and throw them into an enormous trash receptor. Hour after hour, we drug these heavy black shingles and the pile never seemed to end. My father stood on top of the roof with a couple of other men and the shingles continued to pour down.


Megan and I struggled but were determined to finish out the day. She continued on working with him over the years along with Daniel, David, and Andrew, but that day under the hot sun was my first and my last. There was no amount of money that could tempt me to get back in there to do that gruesome work.

Dad digs out foundation for addition.
Here my dad digs out a hole for the foundation of our house addition. My mom was getting a new kitchen.

Working on plumbing in Harrisburg.

Dad and Daniel Studio
Daniel and Dad working on the Sounds Familyre Studio

I tell this story because my dad Lenny Smith is an artist—a singer, songwriter, worshipper who also needed to provide for his wife and five children. Every man and woman struggles with balancing their passions, gifts, and desires with the practicality of life. Often we think that if we aren’t working in our passions full time than maybe we aren’t quite a success. But that is a lie that our mind tells us. We are successful when we simply DO regardless of man’s praise or scorn for our work.

Lenny Smith Album Cover

Lenny Smith has written songs to the Creator since his youth. Now in his 70’s I see his plethora of work before him…not simply the hundreds of songs he has written, some more successful in the eyes of man than others, but the work of his hands, providing for his wife and children. His love, provision, music, words, encouragement is the fruit of the beauty of the Holy Spirit within him. This is what is powerful in an artist, not the “mainstream success” of a song. Knowing how to do what you need to do in the style with which you are inspired is an admirable attribute. Lenny has never tried to be anyone but himself. He could never be anyone but himself.

I encourage all of you artists out there to be who you are. Why is it that musicians in particular are so insecure about their work? About being who they are and expressing what they love and what comes easy to them? I never care about sharing a design I’ve created and could care less about any opinions against it, but music….it comes from your soul. It is a deep part of yourself in all of its raw beauty.

Who Was And Is And Is To Come

Come and enjoy the raw beauty of Lenny’s “Who Was And Is And Is To Come.” All of his five children have come together to support him in this beautiful expression of his heart with Daniel Smith of Sounds Familyre mixing the different voices and instruments into a masterful yet simplistic composition.



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Monday Musings–Lenny Smith

Today I am so excited to talk about my dad, Lenny Smith. Maybe you think that I shouldn’t be writing about him because I am so close, but that is exactly why I SHOULD be. I have spent 24 years under the roof of this man and as his daughter I have experience and insight like none other.

We all have memories from our childhood pop up in our minds and some are more vivid than others. I have memories of my mother cooking dinner every night in the kitchen and stitching her embroidery pieces in the evening. I also remember that it was not an unusual occurrence for my father to lay his head down on the kitchen table and fall asleep as we ate after a long day working construction. It’s funny some of the things that still permeate your memory from childhood.

Dad_3 Dad_4

Another constant was seeing my father play his guitar and sing to the Lord. We didn’t think anything of it–it was just part of our daily living. We would play our games, read our books, do our homework, come and go, and there he was–singing. When I got older and started playing guitar and worshipping myself in my home with my children around me, it was so natural because after all, isn’t this what everyone does?


I could throw out some cool things like, “My Dad wrote “Our God Reigns” and it was the Pope’s favorite song.” or “My Dad has led worship and spoken in congregations of every denomination all over.” The truth is that those things are nice and encouraging, but the real truth is even more stripped down.

My Dad is the real deal. He embraces the creativity and the music that the Lord has put within him. He writes music and moves forward everyday. He plays and he sings all the time–not because he has to, but because he NEEDS to. He doesn’t do it for people and no one is watching…or at least it seemed like it. But here we are today and I guess I was watching.

Who Was And Is And Is To Come 
Check out Lenny’s latest album, “Who Was And Is And Is To Come” and experience for yourself the joyful creative worship of a man who bares himself to the world.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here are some beautiful comments from Sally Morgenthaler:

“Both sound and lyrics are pure, hopeful, real, unfettered.  Your roots in 60s folk are unmistakable. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger.  Never thought I’d hear that brought to worship.”


Here is Daniel Smith’s artwork for Lenny’s “Deep Calls To Deep” album and if you look closely enough my dad is literally shown as baring himself and his heart to the world.

Stay posted as his next album is currently being worked on in the Sounds Familyre Studio right now! It truly is a joyful noise to behold.

When I grow up I want to be just like my dad!



Important Links To Explore:

Great Comfort Records
Lenny Smith: Who Was And Is And Is To Come
Lenny Smith: Deep Calls To Deep

Sounds Familyre Records

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Seriously Mary, What’s with the Spiders?


Into the Mind of the Artist – Mary Brewer of “Frog in the Reeds”

Welcome back to yet another amazingly informative post about Great Comfort Records newest artist, Mary Brewer of “Frog in the Reeds.”  If you missed our first post on Mary and “digging into her mind,” you might want to go back and freshen up HERE.

I’m sure everyone is as curious as I am about the title of her new album,  “Walking Tour of Spiders in the Woods.”

What is that all about Mary Brewer?

Some people love the obscurity of art and prefer to make their own interpretations. That’s all fine and well if you are one of THOSE people but you are going to want to stop reading now.

I am determined to debunk this mystery myself. Personally, I want to know all the nitty gritty details behind that crazy spider up there. Since these posts are opening up our artists more than ever before (and I’m in charge here), let’s see what Mary herself has to say about the spider. So, grab a cup of joe and settle in (or green tea, if you like).


“Hello, Mary Brewer.”


“Why, hello Rachel.”

“I see you are busy recording there in the Sounds Familyre Studio, but I was wondering if you could give us a moment of your time. You see, we have a serious question for you.”

“Oh, sure Rachel. Anything for you. Daniel doesn’t want me to keep him waiting too long though. He just ran up to the house to get some delicious jasmine pearls green tea.”

“I understand.”

“So, what’s this important question you have to ask?”

“Mary, seriously what is the deal with the spiders???!!!???”

“What do you mean? What’s wrong with spiders?” She shifts and a paper crinkles behind her.

“Mary, what is that paper you have in your hand?” I ask grabbing for it.


“Oh, nothing,” she said grabbing it back. “I was just doodling while I was waiting around in the mixing room. I think I might give this to Andrew or Josh. We’ll see which one does a better job.”

“Yeah, good call. Make them work for it.”

“Rachel….uh oh. Daniel’s back with his green tea and he’s giving me a stern look. I think he wants me to get back to work.” Mary starts twisting her doodle drawing.

“Can’t you tell him it’s his sister? Seriously!”

“I’m going to have to tell you about the Spiders later. I’m so sorry Rachel. Bye!”

Andrew, Josh, and Daniel in the Sounds Familyre Studio during the recording of “Walking Tour…”

Oh man! Well folks, you are going to have to hear it from Mary herself! Click on her album right under my name! Don’t keep Daniel waiting!!!



(P.S. That couch Andrew is sitting on lived in my parents house first. After it was kicked out of our house it ended up in the “mixing room.” It has a board underneath the cushions so you don’t sink down. Also, I think Elin sewed those pillows to spruce it up a bit.)

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Into the Mind of the Artist–Mary Brewer

Hello! My name is Rachel and some of you may know me from the band, Danielson.


I am so excited to share with you a new Great Comfort Series, “Into the Mind of the Artist.” I am going to take you on a journey and share with you some “behind the scenes” moments that hopefully will intrigue you and bring greater depth and insight to the music.

Rachel and Mary

Today, I am introducing my friend Mary Brewer of “Frog in the Reeds.” She is an amazing artist as well as songwriter/musician. I met Mary years ago when I was in the midst of Mamma Made Designs. We connected and started working together creating children’s clothing designs as well as designing fabric. 

Elephant Dress Pattern

Here are a couple of funny facts that Mary and I laugh about together:
1. My oldest brother is Daniel Christopher. Her oldest brother is Christopher Daniel. They are both artists and musicians. They also both married Norwegian women.
2. As young men, both of our fathers were in the seminary and got philosophy degrees.
3. As young women, both of our mothers were in the convent.
4. Mary’s Dad’s name is David Andrew. I have a brother named David and a brother named Andrew.
4. We both love Danielson.

See? We had much to connect over! Here’s a funny little side story: Last year when Danielson went on tour, Jason (Mary’s amazing husband) learned all the “People’s Partay” parts on trumpet and joined the band on stage. Mary created an amazing “fruit hat” and led the conga line around the bar. This is just the kind of person she is!

Mary and her Fruit Hat


The fruit hat story continues. We went to visit that summer and my daughter Esther tried on Mary’s hat. A picture was taken and inspiration struck once again. You have to go and check out this awesome journey of picture to painting.


Mary’s journey into music simply extended from her art–yet another form of creative expression. Sometimes you need someone to bounce ideas off of who won’t judge you when it’s really rough and in process–someone who can see the initial seed of creativity and the potential that is there. Mary is my person and I am hers. We bounce off ideas and listen to each others in all of the rough and ugly beauty there is. 

It’s funny how musicians can be so critical of each other and even more critical of themselves. That’s not really funny, but it’s something I’ve noticed. What is that difference of showing off a drawing, painting, sewing creation, and sharing music that you’ve written? There shouldn’t be a difference in my mind as it is all flowing from your creativity as an individual, but it is definitely there. But, I digress.

So, over the past two years, Mary has been on her journey finding her own voice, her own sound, writing, experimenting, succeeding, failing, moving forward one day at a time. When I told her to make an album, she wasn’t sure she could do it. 

“Why not?” I say. “Everyone else does.”

Mary singing on the porch in Butler, PA
Mary sits on her porch in Butler, PA writing and practicing her music.

Mary's Music Room
Mary’s music room.

Look for our next “Into the Mind of the Artist” post! In the mean time, start to get to know Mary more through her BLOG and her MUSIC

Next time I will tell you how she came up with the title for her newly released album,
“Walking Tour of Spiders in the Woods.”  Go to Great Comfort Records and listen to one of Mary’s songs from her new album! REFUGE



Links pertaining to this post:

Christopher Daniel’s The Art Inside
Royal Forest
Walking Tour of Spiders in the Woods
Christopher Daniel’s The Art Inside
Mamma Made Designs

Twitter Feeds You Should Follow:


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A Moment of Mommy Pride

Once and awhile I have to dust off this old blog and share a moment of motherly pride. Today is one of those moments. This is my daughter Esther; she is 9 years old and completing the 4th grade.


Esther decided she wanted to sew a summer dress for our yearly East Coast family summer vacation. She picked out the pattern, the main fabric, and the contrasting fabric for her dress. With little to no help from me, she laid out her patterns, cut, and sewed the entire dress by herself. It looks fantastic and she is so very proud. My determined little girl completed this dress in 2 days!!!!

IMG_7162 IMG_7165 IMG_7167

I have to say, she must have some of her Grandma’s blood in her for sure! And come to think of is, she does have a Tante Maggie streak of red hair in the back of her head. Anyone who knows my sister Megan knows she is extremely talented. Ask her about the deer skin coat she sewed for someone from raw deer skin!!! I would never tackle such a feat.

It’s been some time since my sewing machines have been whirring away, but when the creative juices strike, the machines come out and the house blows up! All of you sewers out there know exactly what I’m talking about. Thank God for vacuum cleaners.


Happy Spring everyone!

Love, Rachel

Posted in Family and Kids, Sewing | 2 Comments