Archive for January, 2011

Sometimes it is the little things in life that you just have to stop for a moment and appreciate. 

Hubby made chocolate sauce today.  This is a fairly normal occurence.  But take a look at the bottle he found to store it in.

 Chocolate syrup, or top-secret potion?   Perhaps when I think he is making chocolate sauce he is really brewing some kind of secret elixer….I know I will smile whenever he takes it out of the fridge. 

What little thing made you smile today?

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The Recipe Box

I have been meaning to make a page with links to recipes on the blog for a while, and today, thanks to another snow day, I took the time to do it.   If you click on the “Recipe Box” tab on the top of the blog you will now be able to see all of my recipes, categorized and in alphabetical order.  (I did not realize until today just how many recipes there were!)   

If you happen to be looking at some of the recipes and discover a link that doesn’t work (most likely taking you to the wrong recipe), please let me know and I will fix it.  I have also linked my recipe page to the Recipe Index Roundup at orgjunkie.com.  Check it out for lots of great recipe links!  Enjoy!

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Boho Bag, Take Two

I finished another Sew Fun Boho Bag.  I have to say again how much I enjoyed this pattern and I can’t wait to show off my new bag!

I am absolutely in love with this fabric.  The light is “Honey Bush Blue” and the dark is “Dream Right Navy” both from the Tea Garden line by Dena Designs.   The dark is home dec. weight, which gives some nice strength to the bag. 

The bag is slightly smaller than the original pattern, but perfect for the things I take to work with me each day.  Except that I haven’t used it yet.  Because I am afraid to get it dirty.  And I know it will, because it is a rare thing to take anything to school (including myself!) and not get a little spot of something somewhere.  (and when I taught preschool I didn’t always want to know what that “something” was….sometimes it is better just not knowing these things….) 

Perhaps tomorrow will be the day it makes its debut….

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   I have completed my first UFO of the year!  I had grand plans to finish one of the big quilts this month, but after opening the shop and then making the top and the dress, I found the month was quickly getting away from me! 

So I chose a small UFO to finish.  It was one I actually didn’t know I had until I opened a drawer looking for something else, and there it was.  This was another unfinished project of my grandmother’s (those UFO’s do like to travel) and I had obviously tucked it away because at the time I didn’t know how to finish it. 

This is what it looked like straight out of the drawer.

I can see why she abandoned it.  The final border is so stretched and crooked that it would definitely bunch up and wrinkle if you tried to quilt this and add binding.  The whole think looked like it was in need of a good iron.

I soon discovered why….

The quilt was made with the foundation technique (like paper piecing but using interfacing instead of paper).  My grandmother must have been low on supplies because she used fusible interfacing on this one – sticky side down.  Which meant that when I went to iron down the seams, all I got was a sticky mess on the bottom of my (brand new) iron.  I turned it over and did the best I could from the front.

Then I removed the border.  It was broadcloth, too thin and flimsy to help this quilt keep its shape.  Luckily I also inherited my grandmother’s fabric stash along with the UFOs and was able to find a matching fabric for the border. 

I quilted around the hat, quilt, and inside border, and used another matching fabric for the binding.

I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out.  I wish my grandmother could see her work and mine combined!  (Although she might give me a lecture on how quilting by machine isn’t really quilting at all so perhaps it’s just as well…. 🙂  )

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Thank you all so much for your encouraging comments about my shop.  I feel blessed to know you all, even if it is only through the words we type on our screens.  Yesterday I even made my first sale!! 🙂  The shop has already opened some creative doors for me and started some projects that I am really excited about.  I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

I have also been squeezing in some time to work on a few more clothing items for myself.  I got really brave and attempted another Ottobre pattern in a knit.  This is the Lana dress from the Autumn/Winter 2010 issue, paired with a store-bought shirt.

Once again I found the extra work in the Ottobre patterns to be worth the effort.  I did have to look up an online tutorial for pintucks, and had the extra hurdle that none of my marking pens would write on this dark, stretchy fabric (I used pins to mark the tucks) but I am really pleased with how this turned out. 

I have also fallen in love with cotton voile.  I have been eyeing Anna Maria Horner’s voile fabrics for a while, but found them to be cost prohibitive until Sew, Mama, Sew had a big sale before Christmas.  I bought 1/2 yard of “Maybe Sixpense” from Anna Maria’s Innocent Crush line and made a scarf by folding the fabric in half and stitching around the edges (easy peasy).  I love this  fabric!  It is so soft and silky, and I think it is the perfect complement to this dress. 

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Facing Fears – Etsy Shop

Thank you for all of your supportive comments on my post about facing my fear of driving.  I certainly felt encouraged by all of your comments, and was amazed at just how many of you also had to face a similar fear!  I look forward to the day that I can share with you all that I do indeed have my license!

This has been a month for facing fears and taking on new challenges.  I really love to sew and would love to somehow turn this passion into more than just a hobby.  Selling my items at a local store unfortunately didn’t work out (I actually lost money on that venture as some of my merchandise was stolen.  I do like to think, though, that somewhere a little child is playing with my handmade toys, whether they were paid for or not….)  So, putting aside the fear that perhaps no one will ever buy anything (isn’t it horrible the way we can beat ourselves up and put the brakes on a venture before even really trying?) I have re-opened my Etsy shop. 

You can find my shop here

I have come a long way since I first tried to open a store almost two years ago.  I am much more focused in the work I want to sell.  I am much more confident in who I am as a sewer/designer/artist.   I am already loving being a part of the Etsy community and have met some really wonderful shop owners (and my wish list grows longer and longer…)   🙂    After being featured in a few treasuries I even came up with one of my own

I hope you will take a look at my store.  And while you are there, be sure to check out some of the other beautiful artists and crafters as well.  You will be inspired. 

What about you? Are you facing fears and embarking on new challenges this year?

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Good Morning Waffles

I have been working at cooking smarter lately.  I still love cooking from healthy, local, ingredients.  I still avoid canned, prepared and packaged foods.  But I am trying to become a better meal planner.  To organize meals around common ingredients to make weekly preparation simpler and to do most of the prep. work on the week-end so that there is less to do (and less dishes to wash) on busy weekday evenings.

So far, it is working well.  I have discovered some great new recipes.  We are eating dinner at an earlier hour most nights.  And there is always leftovers to take to work for lunches.

My freezer is also full of hearty breakfast options.  I am the kind of person that is hungry the minute I wake up and I need to eat a good breakfast or my stomach starts to growl long before lunchtime (which my students think is funny but I don’t find so amusing!)

I have tried out a few waffle recipes but this is my favourite so far.  It is adapted from the recipe entitled “Mom’s Breakfast Waffles” from the book Don’t Panic, Dinner is in the Freezer

Good Morning Waffles

  • 3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup spelt and 1 cup whole white wheat flour)
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup melted butter

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs well, until light and bubbly (I love combining cooking with a workout and use a wire whisk for this job, but if you want to save your arm feel free to use an electric mixer).  Stir milk and vanilla into the eggs.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat again until well-blended.   Stir in the melted butter.

Add about 1/2 cup waffle mixture to your waffle iron (or whatever works for your iron) and cook until nicely browned.

I learned from this book that if you want to freeze your waffles, you should slightly undercook them to avoid drying them out when you reheat.

These waffles were great hot from the iron, and also nice reheated in the toaster oven from frozen.  I served mine with yogurt and peaches, but they would be wonderful with syrup as well. 


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Ottobre Top

This is the “Irene” top from Ottobre Design Magazine’s Autumn/Winter 2010 issue.  

I wore it to work this week and got lots of compliments!  It is a little out of the norm for me in what I usually wear (I tend to be more on the subdued side of things) but I absolutely love this fabric and it’s nice to have something fun and stylish to wear once in a while. 

I have not made many Ottobre patterns (although I do love to look at the pictures and dream!).  They are a little more work intensive than your average pattern.  All the patterns are included full size, but you have to trace them out from this giant sheet with all the patterns printed on it in different colours.  And then you have to add seam allowances to the pattern, because they aren’t included.  It also helps if you’ve made clothing before as there are no diagrams accompanying the directions.  This really scared me at first but I actually surprised myself in being able to figure it all out.   There were many times when I was making this shirt that I wondered – is all this work going to be worth it?     The answer is a big YES!  The top is well-fitted, I didn’t have to make any dart adjustments like I usually do with the big name patterns, and in the one spot where I did make an adjustment, the pattern actually told me to try it on and check for fit!  (I love this because otherwise I would have just plowed right on…..)

I have two other Ottobre patterns cut out waiting to be sewn together and I hope they turn out as well as this one! 


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Boho Shoulder Bag

I’ve been involved in secret sewing again.   Although I like to make grandiose claims of being a Secret Sewing Agent (like the secret service…but for sewing)  those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that what it really means is that I have been pattern testing again.

And now that the news is out, I have an awesome pattern to share with you today. 

It is the Boho bag from Sew Fun Patterns.  First off, it’s big.  Perfect for packing shoes, lunch box, water bottle, a few bolts tied to strings, a blue puppet and several library books (or whatever else I might be taking to school on any given day.  And yes…that really is the contents of my bag today….such is the life of an elementary school teacher.)  Secondly, it has two pockets.  And boy do I ever need to have pockets in my bag.  Ask Hubby sometime how often I misplace my keys.  Or maybe don’t ask him, it’s a bit of a touchy subject.  The pockets are perfect for keys, and also electronic devices.  I actually don’t have any electronic devices (nope, not even a cell phone) but if I DID I know the pockets would be perfect for them.  The bag also looks great and it truly was fun to sew.  Can you ask for anything more from a sewing pattern?

I almost always learn something new when I test a pattern for Sew Fun and this time was no exception.  Check out the cool gathering on the bottom of the bag.  I love the way it turned out and how it makes the bottom into an oval instead of a square. 

For really great pictures showcasing this bag, please check out the Sew Fun website.  The picture of my bag is below, but trust me, it really doesn’t do it justice.  I have all the fabric cut out to make another one with some AMAZING fabric that I can’t wait to show you but as I am in the middle of writing my students’ reports it will have to wait a few more days. 

Did I mention that the bag is reversible?  Just another reason to love it!

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Facing your Fears

On a personality scale, I am definitely more of the fearful/anxious type.  I was the type of kid who would watch her friends ride the amusement park ride 20 times before getting the nerve to go on it myself.  I read book after book about horses, wanted nothing more than to ride my own horse, but when given the opportunity to pet a real, live, horse I dug in my heels and wouldn’t budge.  I still remember my grandmother’s hand on my back trying to push me closer and closer to the horse.

Perhaps it is because of my wild imagination.  I could easily imagine that horse turning to bite me, or swinging his rump around to kick me across the room.  I could imagine it so clearly I could even see the looks on the faces of the people around me when it happened. 

Or perhaps it is what scientists have come to discover about introverted personalities, that my brain creates brain chemicals differently than extroverts and thrill-seekers.  I get enough of an adrenaline rush just sitting around reading books, thank you very much! 🙂

Regardless of why, being a fearful sort of person does make it difficult to fully experience all that life has to offer.  I have had to learn in my life the art of being fearful, but doing things anyway.   On the positive side, there is always a great sense of accomplishment on the other side.  When you do the things you fear, you become a stronger person.  

But there are holdouts.  Things in my life that I have been afraid to do for so long that they seem insurmountable. 

One of those things is learning how to drive a car. 

Yes, I am a woman in my 30s who does not have a driver’s license.

Truth be told this was not really a huge issue when I was living in the city.  It was really easy to just hop on the bus (the stop was right across from my house) and there were numerous connections to trains and subways if I needed to get further.  Even my own two feet could get me to a whole host of places within relatively few minutes.

But there are no buses to take where I live now, no trains, and no subway system anywhere in the entire province!  And very few places are within reasonable walking distance.

So I need to learn to drive. 

And I know it will be ok once I get started.  With fear, usually the first step is the hardest. 

Do you have things in your life that you are afraid to do?   Take a step towards it today and together we will conquer our fears!

When I am most afraid I remember this:

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4)

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

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