Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Feet

Sorry for the prolonged radio silence all! Unhappy convergence of snow (which, as you all know, I actually adore) and altitude = migraine. Grrrr! Anyhoo, onto happier things! Like feetsies! Perhaps not all that exciting to anyone else around here, but I have recently discovered the wonder of new feet!

No silly, not THOSE kind of feet! (But, don't I wish I was back at the beach right now digging my toes into the warm sand!!).

Nope, I'm talking about presser feet! Those seemingly boring little bits of metal that you have to keep changing around just when you're in the middle of a project. I really didn't give them any attention until I recently took a sewing class that was came part of my new Brother sewing machine. As part of their not-so-subtle marketing campaign, the store pulled out every last little presser foot, extolling their little virtues and showing off their little tricks. Recognizing a sale ploy when I saw it, I dug in my heels and thought to myself, "my machine already comes with 7 feet; how many additional feet could I possibly need?" Foolish, foolish question!! Because this, faithful reader, is the beginning of the end:

A gathering foot, an edge joining foot, and, my personal favorite, a pintuck foot! Because once you discover how much fun and adorable pintucks are, it's kind of hard to resist that one! And how can you not want ruffles on your pillows or PJ bottoms? And once I discovered that you can use the edge joining foot to sew together bits and pieces of too-small batting into now usable pieces, well, it's really a cost-saving measure, right?? right?? Yes, I succumbed. But at least I went the Amazon route, which is SOOO much less expensive!

And now, linking to Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday! I have two projects dueling for attention right now (actually, many more than that, but these two are clamoring for the public eye). The first is a little travel sewing kit that I'm making for a friend's teen-aged daughter who just begun to sew. We're sending off a care package filled with fabric, some patterns, and some other goodies, including this sewing kit, once it's finished. I saw this skull-and-cross bones (and hearts) fabric and just had to get it! I got the tutorial from lots of pink here's blog. It's a great blog, so go check it out! I first discovered it during Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Days. That's actually how I discovered this sewing kit, because she was giving away one and I was so coveting it! I didn't win it, so I thought I better get busy and figure out how to make one myself! Once I finish one for Hannah I'm going to have to make one for myself! Once I'm done with that I think I may make one just for all my happy little presser feet!

The other project I'm grooving on right now is a messenger bag. I'm calling it the "Perfect Messenger Bag," certainly not because it's going to be perfect, but because I'm trying to make it the messenger bag with all the features and dimensions that all my store-bought messenger bags lack! I'm a bit of a bag lady, always in search of the perfect bag. As if once I find the perfect bag, my life will be in order! Hah! Anyway, I though if I made one myself I might get a big closer! So, I'm going slowly as this project is a big one for me and has me a big freaked out. I started with the laptop case. I thought I'd make it a removable laptop cover. The overall messenger bag will be a combination black and black and white duck cotton/canvas, but I'm sneaking a bit of corresponding hot pink and white duck cotton/canvas on the inside for a bit of punch. Because it can't be all serious and boring, right?! I have finished the laptop bag so far:

Still quite a ways to go, but I'm happy with it so far! Baby steps, y'all!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Toys!

It is so hard to resist new toys, er, technology! Especially when old technology fails you! I have 37,000 (okay, perhaps 5!) plastic, poorly-made in China seam rippers than I can never seem to find. I was tearing apart an old favorite pair of PJ bottoms the other day (to use as a template for a new pair), when the metal shaft started to slide away from me into the plastic base. What use is that?! Sigh. That's it. It just so happened to coincide with one of those conveniently timed 50% off coupons from Joann's (I'm sure the store and the seam ripper were working in cahoots!), and so I made the big leap:

Look at this beautiful baby from Gingher! Sleek, aerodynamic, and yes, just a wee bit dangerous! I'm pretty sure she won't be traveling with me on my carry-on luggage anytime soon! She has a retractable blade, aluminum and nickel handle, and no cheapie breaking gonna happen with this puppy!

And just when you thought the fun was over, no sirree Bob! I've been fighting the lint wars inside my machine, discovering with some horror that, perhaps, I'm just a wee bit more obsessive compulsive than I thought I was. But there's just no way to get all that thread lint from out of the closed, confined space of my poor Brother, or is there . . . . ? Much as my little paint brush does wonders, I've found something even better! Yes, I succumbed to one of the product placements during my sewing class last week. The instructor was extolling the wonders of her mini-vacuum and I just fell in love. BUT, rather than buying the one selling in the shop, I went online and found a bargain on Amazon. And, voila!

Who knew vacuuming could be so much fun? It doesn't quite show the scale, unfortunately, but this is draped over a fat quarter, if that helps! The larger black part attaches to a regular vac nozzle, and the little attachments fit inside the business openings of the sewing machine. There are brush attachments and regular nozzle attachments. All it's missing is a lighted end! Now my machine is happy and back to her original fuzz-free state. Ready for business! And all for $8!

That's it for toys, but I did get a fun addition to the stash. Look at this amazing FQ from aubreyplays:

Isn't this so adorable? I just love love love it! She also has amazingly cute typewriters, one in this same light orange, and another in a turquoise. Hard to resist! Lots of projects in mind for these . . . sewing machine cover, little pouch for my sewing machine parts, etc. Love this! Check her out on Etsy! My only problem with this fabric is that it may be like Munki Munki . . . I may be developing my fear of cutting into it because I love it so much! I have to be strong, I must use my fabric!

On other news (I know, so much to say--lots of lost time to make up for since I've been down for the count with a migraine this past week!) . . . I've signed up for a few swaps! I had such a great experience with Susan's Modern Christmas Tablerunner swap this past December that when she announced she was back back for more (this time with pals Hadley & Cindy) I just had to sign up again, this time for the Mouthy Stitches Zippy Pouch Swap. Having finally conquered my apparently groundless fear of the zipper, I thought it was perfect timing! I've also signed up for GenQ's Stitchy Love Valentine Swap. Just a li'l valentine in the mail. Finally, I'm participating in April's Hello Sun BOM QAL. I better get cranking on that one, because the month is halfway done, and while my pieces are cut out I have some sewing to do!!

Better get sewing!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


January 8, 2012

Yes, finally, it has snowed! And it has even stuck around a bit here too, rather than just immediately melting as it usually does around here! So beautiful! We were up with the birds (actually, I think they were all tucked snug in their nests still) early to pick up our coop vegetables and fruits, so we were able to get photos of the snow before it had fallen off the tree limbs and before the skies cleared. Kind of magical! Having lived in the wild and wintry Northeast for many years, it is strange to live in the mountains and to get so little snow! For those who know me, I can be a bit obsessive about snow. I love it. I actually can't really get enough of it. I've been told all my life that once I get older I would get sick of snow. Nope. Now, after years of shoveling snow (and I've lived in cities with major blizzards, zero parking, and parking wars over the "parking chair"---deck chairs used during winters in east coast cities to reserve limited parking spots that you have carved out with blood, sweat, and tears from the snow), I have limited desire to shovel snow. With that said, however, I love snow in every other form and I just can't get enough of it and likely never will!

We have been participating fairly regularly in the area's fruit and vegetable coop. It's a great deal. You pay a low set price for a huge amount of fruit and veg. It's great quality produce and comes in huge quantities. We show up at our appointed spot in town at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning (okay, that's admittedly not the highlight for me!) and queue up with our baskets and market bags to get our allotment. This week we also signed up for a box of tangerines. Yum! They also have great extra yummy options like herbs, Asian foods (Bok choy, ginger, etc.).

I'm embarrassed to admit that our usual problem is that we haven't been good enough about eating through all of weekly produce. That may now have changed! We have started our Paleo 30-day. Let me explain. We've been doing CrossFit for a while now (maybe since last spring?) and totally love the workouts. We've been working with a trainer, and the physical change is just simply amazing. With that said, we haven't exactly transformed our diet, and we know that that's a critical part of the equation. Given the half million migraines I've had the past year, it seemed worthwhile to consider what factor food might be playing, not to mention just to get into better eating habits in general.

The Paleo diet reflects a contemporary approach to the diet that our ancestral humans followed: grass-fed animals, vegetables, fruits, roots, and nuts. It excludes processed oils, refined sugar, dairy products, legumes, and grains. Now, before you ask, I'm not going totally off the farm here. Really I'm not! For those who know me, Diet Coke is my favorite vice, as is the vegan dilly (picture the most scrumptious ding dong or twinkie or you can imagine!). However, something had to change! The medication I used to take for my migraines "helped" me pack on 25 extra pounds the past few years, and exercise is just not taking it off. Although I eat fairly well, I definitely could eat much better, and I want to see if my migraines go away all together if I eat really well, such as by eliminating processed foods.

So, with all that said, we're following what's known in the Paleo world as the Whole30. For 30 days, we're eliminating ALL dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, and any processed food. So, that leaves: vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fish, nuts, and unprocessed oils. "Good God! The world has ended," you say! Shockingly, it hasn't. I have been eating better and feeling better than usual. Actually, the only thing I have been missing at all is my poor, neglected Diet Coke (which, I suspect is faring okay, given its recent stock market price!). And that is the only area in which I did "cheat" this past week. I had a DC on Monday. Not bad, all in all! And, here's the big news: In one week, in which I ate and ate and ate and never felt I deprived myself (the DC notwithstanding), I've lost 4 pounds!. Not a bad start! I know, baby steps, but still . . . !

At the end of the 30 days, we'll start to reintroduce the foods we've eliminated little by little (minus the processed foods and sugar) to see what, if anything, triggers things like migraines or other negative reactions. I'm not planning on living without dairy or grains or legumes forever (there are strict Paleo folks out there, and I'm not one of them). I love my coffee with milk, I love my lentils, I love my quinoa (although who knows how I'll feel after 30 days?!). I'm just planning on going without them for 30 days.

So, for any who are interested, and yes, I'm getting off my proselytizing platform soon, I promise, here is an easy and yummy snack that is totally healthy: Crispy Kale chips. Don't knock 'em until you've tried 'em!! They're great in front of a movie in place of popcorn or potato chips!

Crispy Kale Chips

1 head Kale (I recommend Dino Kale), rinsed and dried
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste

Remove center ribs from Kale, and cut remaining leaves into 1.5 inch pieces (picture potato chips!). Lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees until crisp (about 10-12 minutes) ~ watch closely, they cook very quickly!

Okay, next post I'll get back to my sewing, I promise! As a teaser, I will say that I think I have truly conquered zippers. I've done my second zippy bag! I even improvised and did my very own vinyl lining using a shower curtain! I did learn the hard way not to get too close to vinyl with an iron . . . oops!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


January 4, 2012

Happy New Year! Alright, alright, so I'm a few days late! I'm now into week three of a sinus infection, so I'm operating on a delayed schedule. At least that's the explanation I'm using for still working on a last few overdue Christmas presents!

It has been a productive start to the new year, however! I have conquered a few sewing hurdles (drat! I forgot to add those to my 2012 goals!). Just yesterday I figured out (okay, I confess, I was taught) how to make buttonholes and sew on buttons with my nifty buttonhole and button feet! They look so complicated but are so hopping easy!! And then, feeling all crazy brave, I dared to risk my big fear . . . . the ZIPPER!! (dum dum dum!). I deconstructed a zipper makeup bag I had gotten from Clinique years ago, so I could figure out how they're made, and then I reconstructed it with fabric I liked--my red Pez! Without further ado . . .

I'm now dreaming of everything zippy. Who knew zippers could be so easy?! I made this case originally to hold my sewing machine feet, but I love it so much it's now become my new wallet, so back to the salt mines to make something else for the poor lonely feet! Perhaps a special case with a zippered slot for each foot? Okay, perhaps I'm getting a bit nutty!

In the small hand clutch mode, I've also been cranking out these fabulous little envelope purses from Keyka Lou. So easy to make, such an affordable pattern, and so so cute! They're the perfect size for a phone and a few credit cards/cash.

I've also been making a lot of canvas tote bags lately, which I've been loving. So much fun! I decided to branch out a little bit and try mini tote bags. I thought these could be really cute for little gifts, favors, hostess gifts, etc. I have two on the way (including the one below) as a thank you for someone. I pulled together this fabric because it brought out the preppy in me!

Finally, a big huge thank you to Ashley at Film in the Fridge for her fabulous giveaway of her scrumptious scraps! First, if you don't know her blog, stop and go directly to her blog! She takes phenomenal photos, makes gorgeous quilts, and shares amazing tutorials. I was lucky enough to receive a recent giveaway of her Ruby scraps left over from her gorgeous string quilt. She sent a huge bunch of scraps PLUS some big pieces of of this yummy fabric. Thanks so much Ashley!! Now, if only I can make something half as nice as her quilt!