Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crazy morning, Cool people, and Crappy books..

As I was browsing through my social networks today, I came across a forum post about, and I decided to check it out. I almost spewed cherry Dr. Pepper when I saw that my Beach Bum Messenger Bag is featured as the item of the day today!! Go check it out immediately! They wrote up a cute little article about me, and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED TO BE FEATURED!!

This is the link to the article. Browse around while you're there, because they have other interesting articles for handmade crafters.

Speaking of the benefits of social networks, I saw an ad on indiepublic the other day for some amazing art pieces offered by Gorjuss. The ad linked to her Etsy shop, but I've made it clear how I feel about Etsy, so I checked to see if she has a shop on Artfire, and she does! I immediately bought a couple of items from her because I love her stuff so much that I want to cry. This bookmark is one of the things I bought. It is perfect for my teenage niece who I promised a book to recently:
And, speaking of books, I am abandoning the L.A. Banks' Vampire Huntress Series. I had to grit my teeth through book 5, and enough is enough. The story has become painfully awful and I am certain that I am missing nothing by quitting in the middle of the series. So, I should be able to spend more time sewing this weekend!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zee German Messenger

My German is visiting for a few weeks, and since we have some down time before our "Grand Adventure" to Vegas next week, we have been busy sewing. Sunday was spent at the local community thrift store (NOT over-priced Goodwill) shopping for t-shirts. I love that we found a ton of shirts for under $1. Like this I-Tunes shirt:
It was perfect for the German music lover:
So, I gave her a crash course on messenger-bag-making, and she did AWESOME! This is not a beginner pattern, and she cranked it out like a champ. How amazing is the coordinating dress shirt she chose???
And, we incorporated the dress shirt pocket, added a zippered pocket, and fashioned an IPod pocket on the strap (of course!).
It is so hard to teach a beginner to sew an advanced pattern (which we altered along the way), and this experience has taught me to take it slow and start with the basics in the future. I was very fortunate to have someone with zeal who learns quickly for this project, but if I ever decide to teach a class I will definitely use an easier pattern.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Banana Splits Bag

I got off my lazy, book reading butt today and FINALLY finished my newest messenger bag:
I needed something to replace the Fish bag that I had to take out of my shop this week since I ended up donating it to the IndiePublic August raffle.
You may recognize the lining fabric from my most recent dress. I have quite a bit of that pattern left, and I was ecstatic that it matched the Banana Splits t-shirt!
Well, I'm off to list it in my Artfire shop! I just thought I'd post it up here so everyone could see that I wasn't hallucinating the unfinished bag.

'Twas Brillig's First Giveaway!

I think I have officially reached social network overload. It is possible that I belong to almost every craft/handmade network in existence, and I am terribly unorganized about the whole thing. But, I logged in to American Craft Guide on Ning this morning, and as I was browsing the groups I came across this GIVEAWAY!

Aren't these earrings beautiful? 'Twas Brillig is giving them away on her blog. The contest ends on July 31st, so you should head over there and give her some love right away!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poor Time Management..

I have an almost finished messenger bag sitting on my sewing table looking very morose and neglected. But, I have been in a reading mood for the past few days, and I just can't pull myself away from L.A. Banks' Vampire Huntress Series to get back to the bag.

It's not that this series is particularly good, but I am a complete sucker for vampire books. (By the way, there will be NO discussion of Stephenie Meyer's ridiculously infantile submissions to the literary world on this blog. There are plenty of other venues for discussing that tripe.)
Her first book - Minion - is a clear example of Ms. Banks' writing inexperience but it also introduces you to her immense passion for the subject matter. I read this one when it first came out in paperback, and I thought I liked it back then. When I recently re-read it, I realized, mmmm, not so much. But, I was invested at that point (having foolishly purchased books 1 & 2). So, I worked through the choppy plot and blatant religious references, and made it to book 2.

The Awakening is marginally better than book 1. The story is a little more fluid, and now that I know all of the characters it is easier to relate to them. BUT, the ghetto vernacular like, "dayyuuum!" and "chile" instead of "child" really grates my nerves a little. I know I'm being ridiculous, but can't at least ONE of the characters speak without using ebonics?? Pleeeeeaaaaaassssseeeee!?!?
All in all, it was fine. And when I say "fine," I mean it was okay or mediocre not "fine" like, "Dayyyuuum, that girl is FINE!"
This book creates a solid lead-in to the next novel by forcing the reader to care about and root for the seemingly doomed relationship.
I should finish "The Hunted" today. So far, this is the best of the 3 books that I have read so far. But, I may only be feeling that way because I know how shocked all of the religious readers are when they read the steamy love scenes near the beginning of this installment in the series. ;)
The story has a some substance, but Ms. Banks spent a lot of time on the romantic relationship. I'm not a fan of romance novels, but I'm dealing with it in anticipation of intense bloodshed by the end.
I already have the next 2 books in my possession from the library, so don't expect my bag pics anytime soon. When I get in to a series, I suffer from "reading frenzy," and can't force myself to find the time for my other hobbies. I'm lucky if I remember to feed my family during a good series! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hooded Jersey Jumper

I don't know if it is like this for all crafters, but I often find myself doubting my skills and creativity. I look at the work of my fellow Etsy and Artfire sellers and I cannot help but feel dwarfed by their genius. I know that I am generally hyper-critical of myself, but that's beacause I am still an infant in the craft world. I have only been sewing apparel for a couple of years, and although I have picked up a lot of useful skills, and experimented with different design/embellishment techniques, I find myself feeling inadequate most of the time. There are tons of projects that look flawed and sloppy to me. Especially my applique. I haven't spent as much time on it as I would like to, and because of my lack of practice I stuggle with it when I want to add it to a garment.

This week, I put together a quick little hooded jersey jumper for the Pretty Pretty Princess, and I decided that an applique was in order. Now, I know I was setting myself up for failure by stitching my design to stretch jersey, but I took precautions and had high hopes. This is the result up close:
I "satin-stitched" (sorta) the inner raw edges and used a serger on the outer edge prior to placing the applique on the jumper. Then, I used a straight stitch to attach it. From farther away it looks okay, but I am still unhappy with my primitive skills.
Although, I am proud of the fact that I made this hooded jumper (and the one without a hood, below) from my memory of an outfit I saw on another little girl at the beach. I didn't use a store bought pattern, I just made a bodice and hood pattern on my own and refashioned a couple of T-shirts I had lying around. I thought about using some bias tape around the raw edges, but decided that I like the look of the serger stitches better.
I guess the lesson here is that I have a long long way to go until I can look at my work and feel confident. I will just live by my mantra (sung to Dory's tune in Finding Nemo) "Just keep sewing, sewing, sewing..." until I can proudly display most of what I make. The point is to create, not to be perfect. Right?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Beans, Beans, Good for the Heart...

I love love love garden fresh veggies. I could spend all day (and all of my money) at the farmer's market picking out the perfect beans, squash, spinach, etc... Thus, my adoration for fresh veg (and the skinniness of my wallet), motivated my dad and I to start our own garden this year. Of course, I was really excited about getting the growing going, and I heinously over-planted. You should see the jungle that has thrived due to my severe lack of weeding! I admit that I have been neglecting the veggie plants (the squash is officially the garden bully), but I very much believe in just letting nature do its job. If it is strong enough to survive, then great. If not (poor spinach was no match for the squash plants), then we will do without.

Well, the green beans have been growing like superstars (and telling the squash where it can stuff it's enormous leaves) and this week was time to harvest. Actually, last week was time for harvest, but I had to wait for the wasp community residing in the garden to dissipate. Today was a nice cool day, and my mom harvested while I acted as bee lookout, and here is our bounty:
Aren't they lovely?? There are about 2lbs of beans here, so I decided to prep a bunch up for the freezer. After cutting them into 1" pieces, I blanched them - creating a vibrant green color and preserving their nutrients. As you can see below, the ones on the left are blanched and ready to freeze, and the ones on the right are prepped for my dinner tonight:
Once they were blanched, I put them in a single layer in freezer bags and labeled them with today's date:
Of course, I could have done this with farmer's market green beans, but it is so much more satisfying to know that I planted and nurtured them myself. Plus, I know exactly where they came from, and what type of chemicals they have been exposed to (none!). I expect to have a ton more beans by the end of the season, which saves me money on my grocery shopping for the rest of the year. Yay for home gardens!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bad Blogger

I should say that I have been too terribly busy to sew or post, but that's only partly true. It's mostly laziness. I'm not a big fan of summer, and I tend to lounge around sulking about the heat and humidity.

But, I got my butt in gear this week and whipped up a new dress that I love. (Sorry about the slouchy picture - again).
I need to make some adjustments in the bodice to accomodate my bust, but that's really minor. Overall, this is a fantastic fit and I will probably make 10 more like it!

Oh happy day.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Krispy Strawberry Stars Recipe

Back Story: Once upon a time I was shopping with a friend, and we stopped at one of those coffee shops inside a department store, and they had these GARGANTUAN Rice Krispy Treats, and we were STARVING and INSANE, so we bought one to share, I think, and I ate it and got so sick that I have HATED Rice Krispy Treats ever since.

That being said, kids still love these treats, and I have a 4th of July party to attend on Saturday, so I thought I would give the kids their own non-grownup dessert. Of course, my husband would happily down the entire batch of these things, but he's a weirdo who likes to gross me out.

So, I had some strawberry marshmallows that caused stomach unhappiness after eating 2, and I needed to do something with them. I realized that I had a box of Rice Krispies, and it dawned on me that I could make a frugal contribution to the fireworks party this weekend.

The mixture is your basic Rice Krispy Treat recipe except that I used strawberry flavored marshmallows:

3 TBS Butter
1 bag of Strawberry Marshmallows
6 cups of Rice Krispy (or comparable cheap brand) cereal

Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave (no, you don't need a specific time, just nuke it until it is liquid). Add the marshmallows and toss to coat. Microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds-ish. The marshmallows will still look whole. It's cool, just stir them up! Add rice cereal and fold the mixture together.

Note - Use a metal spoon. Marshmallow and plastic are arch enemies and you will be caught in the middle of their melee if you choose a plastic spoon. I mean it, keep away from that brawl.

Okay, grease up your 13x9 inch baking pan (If you used stick butter for the mix, then use the wrapper to grease up that bad boy!) and spoon the rice krispy mix into the pan. USING WAX PAPER press the mix into the pan.

- Making the shapes -
>WHILE IT IS STILL WARM: Flip the pan onto a sheet of wax paper and let the rice rectangle fall.
>Get out your metal (you have already been warned about plastic)cookie cutters (I used the star shape for the 4th of July theme) and grease them up.
>Next, cut your shapes out of the rice rectangle.

**When you run out of room to cut your shape just transer the mix back to the pan, press, and flip on to the wax paper again.
Finally, add some flair.....
I decided to decorate my stars with some white chocolate. There are 2 ways to melt the white chocolate:
Way #1 (the method I chose) - Put 1 cup of white chocolate morsels in a bowl. Microwave it for about 1 minute 20 seconds and stir it up. Transfer to a squirt bottle or ziploc bag with the corner cut and drizzle:
Way #2: Put 1 cup white chocolate morsels and 1 TBS vegetable shortening (no, you cannot use butter with white chocolate - gross for even asking) in a bowl. Microwave for 1 minute-ish and stir. - This way will give you a smoother, more drizzle-able chocolate, and it will be shiny, but it will taste a little different.

Let the treats cool, store in between wax paper in an airtight container, and you have yummy (and cheap) treats for the kiddos!! Enjoy.

I have a Stuffed Strawberry Recipe that I am making for the adults. I'll share that on Saturday. Happy 4th!