Sunday, November 30, 2008

December 3rd - Giveaway Day

Sew Mama Sew has organized Give Away Day 2008! Many blogs, including this one, will be hosting give-aways on Wednesday, December 3rd. Visit the Sew Mama Sew website on December 3rd to see a master list of the blogs hosting giveaways & make sure you stop back here for your chance to win something!

Enjoy, Beth

Friday, November 28, 2008

I got my apron

I received a fabulous package in the mail today. It was such a surprise to open the package and see poinsettia fabric - I thought it was something I had ordered and I know I didn't order any poinsettia fabric.

See - isn't this lovely? I thought - awwww - it's an apron and my partner made me a poinsettia apron and wrapped it up with gold ric rac (very cool and sparkly). I read her note and it said she hand sewed the sequins onto the apron. I looked and didn't see any but thought - oh - they must be on the pockets or something.

I unwrapped my package and THIS is what I saw:

NOOOOOOO - it's not a poinsettia apron it is a sparkly, blingy, I'm going to blind my enemies with my fancy apron apron. Isn't it fabulous? I'm in love with it. Lucy and Lola both oooohed and ahhhhed over it. The fabulous Christy created this apron and also sent a lovely bracelet to go along with the apron.

Thank you Christy!

The apron is wonderful - I can't wait to pick my kid up from school in it! I absolutely wear aprons to my kids school too - mostly smocks when I volunteer but this is too good not to wear out for others to admire.

Everyone - get yourself an apron if you don't have one. They are a must have! They make you smile - at least - they make me smile.

Spreading apron love - Beth

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I cooked for the four of us (five if you count the dog since she did eat some of the dinner too). One 14 lb turkey. Three pies for dessert. Yup - the numbers were just about right.

I asked the kids what they were thankful for and Lola said:
"All the pretty flowers that grow in my garden."

And Lucy said: "That Vampires aren't real."

To which my husband added he was thankful that: "Zombies aren't real either."

I am eternally grateful for family and friends - both near and far and the bloggy kind, that I can now create Christmas cards featuring Lucy and her missing maxillary central incisors, and that I was able to whip up a new not quite perfect apron before I started cooking.

Peace, love and happiness to all - Beth

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Midnight Soup

My book club read a great food related book in December 2006. Instead of the group discussing the book everyone was asked to share a food related story and to bring the recipe as well. One member shared her tradition of making and eating French Onion Soup on Christmas Eve. Since my husband and I were going to celebrate the holiday alone with our two children we decided to try and see if this could be a tradition for our family. I decided to make it for Christmas Day not Christmas Eve. I hoped that with so many new toys for both the children and my husband that I would be able to make this meal in peace on Christmas.

At about 5 o'clock on Christmas Day I started to prepare the soup. You know how food show hosts or cookbooks remind you to read a recipe through before you make it? Well, I didn't do that with this recipe. I wasn't prepared for (1) due to the fact I had never browned 8 cups of onions before the amount of time it would take to brown them and (2) since my recipe printed on two pages I didn't see that after I had browned the onions and let them simmer for 30 minutes that there was an additional 90 minutes of cooking time. OOOPS! My husband kept coming into the kitchen asking "When are we going to eat - midnight?" Finally, around 9 pm, I told him dinner was ready. He sat down at the table, inhaled the aroma and said "Ahhhh - midnight soup."

Aside from my own time SNAFU's the soup was fantastic! When my mother came to visit in February I actually made the soup again - started earlier in the day this time - and she said it was the best French Onion Soup she had ever had in her life. So, thank you Nancy for sharing your tradition with me and I am honored to share this recipe with others. Make the soup - you will not be disappointed. Just realize before you start making it that it isn't a thirty minute meal!

Nancy's Yummy French Onion Soup
1/2 stick butter (margarine)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
8 cups homemade beef stock, or good quality store bought stock (not broth)
1/4 cup Cognac, or other good brandy
1 cup dry white wine (or whatever kind of wine you like to drink)
8 (1/2-inch) thick slices of French bread, toasted
3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyere

Heat butter and oil in a heavy stockpot over moderate heat. When butter has melted, stir in onions, cover, and cook slowly for about ten minutes. Blend in salt and sugar and increase the heat to medium high, allowing the onions to brown ~ stir frequently to avoid burning them! Let them turn a deep, walnut color. Simmer on low for 25-30 minutes, even a little longer to make sure the onions are well cooked (add a wee bit of stock if needed to keep the onions moist).

Sprinkle flour and cook slowly, stirring for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, then whisk in 2-cups of hot beef stock. When well blended, bring to simmer, adding the rest of the stock, Cognac and wine. (You may substitute red burgundy and port wine, or sherry, if you prefer this taste to Cognac.)

Cover loosely and simmer very slowly 1 ½ hours, adding a little water if the liquid rescues too much. Taste for seasoning.

Divide the soup among four ovenproof bowls. Add just a wee bit more sherry or Cognac to each bowl of soup, stir slightly. Arrange the toasted French bread on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated cheese ~ Gruyere or Swiss if you can’t find Gruyere.

Place bowls on cookie sheet and set under a preheated broiler until the cheese melts and forms a crust over the top of the bowls.

Serve immediately with a nice fresh salad and this makes a wonderful meal.

Serves FOUR

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two Awards

Amy over at Life in Pink Hi-Tops and Heather from Blue Bird Studio have each given me an award.

The award from Amy is: "Marie Antoinette: A real person, A real award." Thank you Amy! I try to be as real as I can since I'm really a Stepford Wife in disguise. Just promise no one will stop by my house to check-up on that fact. I'm a Stepford Wife reject - can't seem to keep the house free from toys.

The rules for this award:
1. Please put the logo on your blog
2. Place a link to the person from whom you received the award
3. Nominate at least 7 or more blogs - Hmmmmm - I think most of the blogs I normally read have been nominated...
4. Put the links of those blogs on your blog
5. Leave a message on their blogs to tell them

And, from Heather:

"This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Please pass this award on to others who can then do the same."

So - hope this isn't a cheat - but I'll nominate the following bloggers for both awards! And the nominees are: Courtney, Harley, Tonya, and Jill.

Congratulations to all! Beth

Almost Done - Holiday Hostess Apron Swap

Well, I'm almost done with my Holiday Hostess Apron. It will be mailed out on Monday. The bottom half is from a pattern Sharon posted on her blog. The wrap top is from a pattern I have for a dress / shirt (can do either) but have never used. I'm notorious for (1) not following directions (wonder where my 6-year-old gets that from) as well as (2) trying out new things and (3) 'winging' it.

My partner liked red. She also said she would like a full apron. Some full aprons I love and fit great - others not so great. So - I wanted to give my partner the option of having a full or half apron. The bottom half can be worn alone. The top can be put on if she chooses. I really wish I owned a bedazzler right now. I think the wrap top is screaming for bling! Must find something fun to add to the top.

Any suggestions? A poinsettia pin perhaps?

The other thing I like about this apron is it can be used for multiple holidays. Christmas, Valentine's Day, Redhead Day, Lief Erikson Day, etc.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Scrap Swap and My THQ Bag

I joined the Happy Scrap Swap co-hosted by Abbie and Katherine. By joining you were also entered to win a prize.

I won a prize form Abbie! She sent me a fabulous purse. I love it! The colors are so bright and happy. There are pockets inside - I adore pockets. I can't wait to use it! Could I possible use any more exclamation points in this post?

Anyway - Abbie - where did you purchase the zipper pulls that say THQ? I didn't get a good shot of that for the post - perhaps because it is pitch black here in New England - but I love them and want my own. Please share your source!

Oh - and - she is also one of my partners for the Happy Scrap Swap. Above are the scraps she sent. I can't wait to get my other bag of scraps so I can get sewing. I love some of the fabrics to pieces already. The blue one at the bottom with the circles and wavy lines - oh so 1960s. So many ideas! So many exclamation points!

Later, Beth

Craft Show #3

This past Thursday night was craft show number three. I must say, I made the least amount of money at this event. It was for one of my mother's clubs. I've shopped at this event in the past and it has always been well attended. This year, there was never a good crowd. One group of women decided to stand around in the room I was in and drink wine.

One of the good points, I thought, was that the table and linens were included for everyone in the fee for the event. When I got there I had a round table. And, it was small. Not a great table. It was impossible for me to display the aprons except for what Manny and Wanda wore. I guess I need to invest in a clothes line or hanger apparatus of some sort. And, children left their trash on my table as well as women leaving their wine glasses on it (I was right next to a door to a hallway to another room with more vendors). Next time I do an event I'll be a little more specific with what I ask for in regards to a table.

To top it off, someone else was selling crayon rolls! Mine were more kid-friendly with the fabric and the elastic as well as the price but still...I didn't think there were supposed to be duplicates. Not cool.

And, I guess the icing on top of this, some of the moms were downright rude. They would turn their back to the table and me and make comments to their friends about the coasters or crayon rolls while I was still behind them. Ummmmmmmmm - hello! Nothing like taking a knife and twisting it. Really, my heart is on my sleeve with items I make and hope they are good enough but it's hard to stand around smiling while people make snide remarks.

Anyway. There was a woman next to me who actually did the best, in my opinion, out of any of the 29 crafters that were there. She had one of a kind, handmade bags (I bought one - it's so cool). She was also thrown for a loop when one of the other crafters stopped by and mentioned she also made bags but she only brought large totes with her. Immediately the other woman went to see if she could find what the other woman was selling as she was also told no one else would be selling purses at the event.

I guess live and learn - and bring extra stuff to sell just in case your cornerstone item is being sold by another vendor.

Monday, November 17, 2008

They're Everywhere!

My new favorite coffee mug is the yellow one with the Great Wall of China. My husband admitted, they were an impulse buy on his way out of China at the airport. Is there anyplace in the world that doesn't have a Starbucks Coffee? According to the site finder on the Starbucks website there are 64 Starbucks in Beijing alone. Who knew?

The mugs also became an instant history lesson for the girls about the wall, why it was built and the Huns. Gotta love a gift that keeps on giving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cutting fabric on the bias - Tutorial

How to cut fabric on the bias when making binding for a quilt, apron or other sewing project. Any comments by me that really aren't part of the tutorial - just my observations or ramblings - like this - will be in italics.

For this project make sure you have:
fabric (amount will vary), rotary cutter, large cutting mat, large ruler, sewing machine, thread, scissors, iron.

If you are making a quilt you should have 1 1/4 yards of fabric for the binding. What you will want is a square of fabric. Since the majority of quilting cottons are about 44 inches or so wide 1 1/4 yards should be enough, once you wash and dry it, to have a square of fabric. I didn't need that much binding. I started with a 25 inch square of fabric.

1) Make sure you have a square of fabric. I did make mine square.

2) Fold it into a triangle. This will give you your bias.

3) Notice - your triangle is larger than your largest ruler. We must remedy this!

4) Fold one side of your triangle toward the center.

5) Fold the other side toward the center. Your goal is to now have a piece of fabric that is less than 24 inches wide - the length of that ruler - so you will be able to cut your strips in one fell swoop or cut. And this has done it!

6) Place your ruler on top of your fabric along the bottom fold. Now - make one long cut about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch from the bottom fold.

7) You can discard the scrap.

8) Cut your strips in your desired width. I was making bias for an apron so I cut one inch strips. If you were making a quilt 2 1/2 inch strips would work nicely.

9) When you unfold your strips you will notice they have angles on the ends. You will need to sew these strips together to make your long bias strips for your projects. Here's how. Make sure you have two like ends together - like in the above picture. Both angles are facing the same way.

10) Place your strips right sides together.

11) And turn them. I put the pen in the picture to show you need to sew from the V by the point of the pen to the next V or indent (since my last name begins with a V I like to use the V explanation).

12) Sew. And you will chain sew - as you are ending with this strip pick up the other end, place another strip of fabric next to it to make sure the angles are the same, place them right sides together, turn and sew. The larger the strip the easier and more forgiving I found this to be. The smaller the strips the more I found myself thinking about running to the store to purchase bias tape. But, practice really makes perfect. By the end I was much more adept at sewing the smaller strips together.

13) Then you will have a pile of strips that go from the above ----- to adorning the below apron.

You will have to iron your seams open and cut off a ton of small v's from where the two strips are joined. Then - if making double fold bias tape - you can use a bias tape maker or view my tutorial on how to make bias tape using an iron and a large pin. If you are making a quilt you don't need to iron it in half. You would hold your fabric, folded in half, so the pretty side is facing the outside and you would sew the raw edges onto the edge of your quilt. Perhaps a tutorial for another day.

Best of luck! Hope this all made sense. If it doesn't let me know! And if it does and you succeed have a cup of coffee on me and leave me a comment! Happy sewing, Beth

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An oldie but a goodie

My parents have been visiting while my husband is in China. All weekend Lucy was fighting something. Instead of running around outside we all settled on playing Monopoly. The kids were practically jumping out of their skin with excitement when they saw we owned the game. Now, they said the babysitter had played it with them before so I don't know how they didn't know it was ours but they're kids. Who knows. I guess they thought she brought the game with her.

We played Monopoly two days in a row. Thankfully one girl won one day and the other the next. Actually, both girls were unbelievably gracious losers. I was so impressed with their behavior. Really, they usually don't lose gracefully!

Monopoly, by the way, is a great game for helping children learn to read as well as math skills. Counting the dice, learning about rolling doubles, buying property, knowing when someone lands on your property, reading the Chance & Community Chest cards as well as having monopolies!

I know what board game we're going to play on Thanksgiving - can you guess?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For my husband

The Fairy Princesses say Ni Hao. The oldest insists you said she could play Spore. Could you please confirm or deny this rumor?

Hugs & kisses - from your ladies.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Two Down, Two To Go

I feel like I haven't posted in forever.

I have finished my first two craft fairs and sold about the same amount of merchandise at each. A few nights before my first craft fair my youngest got sick. That meant four or five days of no sewing getting done at all. I was worried because I wanted to have a greater variety of aprons (more fabrics!) but never got around to it.

I got lots of people looking, lots of people saying "Oh that's so cute." And "I love the camouflage apron." And some that just wanted to know "Do you do alterations?"

Seriously - the first craft fair - I literally had my green bucket of crayon rolls on the floor. They didn't sell well at all. I think mainly because I couldn't display or show them. The aprons I only brought on a whim and I sold five of those. Go Aprons!

Then, yesterday's craft fair, was at my preschool. I shopped at last year's and I can say - this craft fair had more vendors and more shoppers than last year's. I like my table set-up mostly. I think I'll just keep crayon rolls on one side - I kept confusing people. They thought the bucket in front of Manny was full of aprons - not crayon rolls. Also, the candy was good but I'd like a smaller bowl. This was all I could find as I thought about it when I was running out the door - and it did hold my business cards nicely. I purchased small stockings (because I knew I didn't have enough time to make some) and stuck a crayon roll on each one and hung them on my tablecloth - crayon rolls make the perfect stocking stuffer!

I'm happy and a little more confident about what to do / bring into the next craft fair.

And, since I plan on making a few 'big girl' apron's this week I actually will be making / posting my easy cutting fabric on a bias for biding tutorial very soon. Thanks for all the thought and well wishes! Beth

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

T Minus 20 hours and 25 minutes and counting

until my first craft fair. Really - it's more of an open studio with wine, cheese, crackers and some items for you to peruse and perhaps purchase. The studio is small so I will only be bringing some crayon rolls. I have about 60 made as of now with at least another 40 cut out - ran out of the interfacing - so I'll be sewing those up before Saturday's craft fair.

I also have a bunch of children's adjustable bib aprons ready for Saturday's fair. I am trying to figure out how to fold them to leave the pocket outside and have the apron ties be the bow. I also want to put a cookie cutter in the pocket as well as a recipe for cookies.

I voted and won!

I took part in Shawnee's Summer Flirty Apron Swap. Once the swap was over all of the aprons were put to a vote to see whose apron was the best interpretation of someone's dream summer vacation. You could win a prize by (A) sewing the winning apron or (B) being a voter that was picked at random thanking you for voting. My apron didn't win but I did - just for voting. I love exercising my right to vote!

And, to make a good day better, I also won a swap from Abbie who is also giving away a quilt right now. Go visit her blog for a chance to win a beautiful quilt that has a wonderful story behind it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Swaps - books and aprons

We have received a bunch of great swap packages here over the past two weeks.

Lola received her One Good Book Swap package from Leo and his mom Katy in the U.K. She was so excited to have something just for her. Her sister sat next to her saying "I'm so jealous." Was quite funny - for me.

There were two fabulous books in the box - The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child and Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep by Joyce Dunbar. The illustrations in The Princess and the Pea aren't illustrations at all - they are cut out figures in small dioramas that have been photographed - really very cool.

And - what else does a little girl need but her very own princess with a blanket and a pea! As well as a Velveteen Rabbit to go with the Dunbar book. While we were on vacation at Cape Cod we read the Velveteen Rabbit (it was one of the books at the house we rented) and the children, after we read the book, saw a real rabbit in the yard and were convinced that it was the Velveteen Rabbit.

The best thing about the dolls is that Katy made them. She's having a close-out sale in her Etsy shop. Get one of her dolls before they sell out. They are awesome.

To be honest - we looked at everything before we read the note. I saw the pea (a green felted ball) and thought - what is this? Must be in the box by accident. Then - I read the note and got it! So cool. The gifts were great and we read the books right after we finished reading the note from Katy.

The next day Lola told me she had peed on the floor. I ran over to see where. The little angel stood there with her hands behind her back and slowly brought the one forward and said - no mommy - this pea is on the floor. And there she was holding up the green felted pea. She's one smart cookie - knows how to get her mommy to come running.


Lucy also received her One Good Book Swap package from Elsaysha and her mom Shannon. Lucy and Elsaysha had a lot of the same likes so it was easy for me to shop for her - mailing it was another story, but I digress. Lucy had one of her friends over when she found the box by the front door. I don't know if I can post pictures of her friend so I didn't but the faces they made when opening the box and pulling items out were priceless. I think her friend was more excited than she was.

She received a rainbow fairy book, a fairy craft book (we'll be using it tomorrow since my kids don't have school - if you are in the U.S.A. - go vote!) and a bag full of arts and craft supplies in addition to some gummies that the kids wolfed down.

I received my Hot Mama Apron from Patty. I love the apron. The fabric is fabulous, the ruffle is so ruffly and the pocket - perfect. And - it's reversible. So cool!!! She also sent me coffee, tea, candy, and knitted me my very own coffee cozy. The coffee cozy is going to get its own post. I love it.

I made my hot mama apron for Harley. The other goodies I sent Harley were a book, a magazine with an article about coffee, Peet's Coffee (it was mentioned in the article), some bookmarks, a dish towel, and a coffee wallet.

Were just mailed out today. Lucy & Lola's packages for their book swap partners. Life kept getting in the way. It took me forever to pack these up and get them to the post office. And, as I was finally taking the boxes to the car this morning I noticed some of the things for the one box had been taken out - by my three-year-old. So, I had to send two packages to Elsaysha - I wasn't about to untape the box. And, I have never sent a box off to the U.K. before. The form they had me fill-out was huge. "...And make sure you mark box 17, and don't forget to date and sign it..." My goodness! But that box should be at Leo's house in approximately six to ten days. Let's hope the shipping gods are good to my boxes and that everyone receives their goodies quickly.

Now - off to sew some more. My first craft show will be Wednesday. Wish me luck! Beth


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