29 April 2010

Parasol Craft

Some of you may have heard of this cool online magazine, but it's new to me. I read about it on one of my favorite blogs -  The Long Thread.

I went to the website, checked it out, and for $2.50 I now have an online magazine that includes 118 pages of the following:

Super talented crafters, artists & photographers
Download: 5 12×12 backgrounds
Paper crafts using the downloadable files
Download: 8 pngs/brushes for Photoshop
Idea: Hand drawn tote bags
Local Shop: Britex Fabrics
Article: Part 1, Finding Your Creative Self

Check it out! Parasol Mag.

I have not tried any of the crafts yet - but I will. I love the photography and the hand drawn tote bags. I hope you enjoy! Don't miss the article by Ellen of  The Long Thread

28 April 2010

Tutorial - Shabby Chic Hooded Bath Towel

I love to give gifts I have made myself. Occasionally (OK, often) I am busy and forget that I have a baby shower to go to, say tomorrow. What to do? 
The hooded bath towel is one of my favorite solutions. You can keep a stack of towels and washcloths on hand, or you can just make a quick run to Target or Walmart when you need to. There are endless options in terms of colors and ribbon and decorative towels, depending on how much you want to spend. 

 For this towel I just added matching ribbon to the edges of a decorative towel

This tutorial shows how to make a shabby chic towel with a linen ruffle.

I should apologize in advance for the photos. Last week when I made this towel, it was snowing, and the light was not great in my sewing room. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that we do things when we have time to do them, regardless of photo quality lighting...


One nice sized white bath towel
One white washcloth (same brand as towel if possible)
white thread

Step One - wash the towel and washcloth

Step Two - make the ruffles. Start by measuring across the edge of the towel to see how long of a ruffle you will need. Take the length of the towel edge and multiply it by 2 for a tighter ruffle, by 1.5 for a looser one. I used 1.5. 
Using a rotary cutter and mat, cut 1 inch widths of linen to the length you need.

Step 3 - Sew the gathers. If you haven not made a ruffle before, it's very simple. Just set your sewing machine stitch length to the longest stitch. If you have a gathering foot, use it. For the purposes of this project, you probably won't want to gather the stitches much more than they will be gathered by machine.
I wanted my ruffle to have a raw edge, so I just started sewing the gather stitch right down the middle. Go ahead and sew all the ruffles you need to finish the project. That way you can change your stitch length back to normal (saves redoing all your seams later when you realize the stitches are too loose).

I liked how much my machine gathered the ruffle, so I went right ahead and pinned it to the washcloth. As you pin, shift the stiches/gathers as needed to make it even.

Step 4 - Sew ruffle to washcloth. Change your stitch length back to normal. Catch the edge of the ruffle first along the side of the washcloth. Then sew again, straight down the middle of the ruffle.


 Now is probably a good time to go ahead and pin and sew those longer ruffles to the towel as well. You can make a finished edge by folding under the end of the ruffle, wrapping it around the edge of the towel and catching it on one edge as in the photo above. Sew the ruffle down the center as before. When you come close to the end, cut the ruffle strip about 1/2 inch past the end of the towel. Fold the edge under. When you come to the end, turn fabric and catch the edge again.
Step 5 - Make the hood. Turn your washcloth wrong side out (ruffle to the inside). Draw a line along where you want to sew for the hood.

OK, so you can barely see my purple line, but it's there. Sew along this line, making sure the bottom edges of the washcloth are even. Once the seam is sewn, trim 1/4 inch from the seam.

Now zigzag the edge to prevent fraying of the terrycloth.

Step 6 - Sew the hood to the towel.  The idea is to have the hood in the center of the long end of the towel. Fold the towel in half, right side out. Fold the hood in half right side out as well. Line up the hood and the towel on the fold, right sides together. Pin well.

At this point, I ALWAYS turn the hood and towel right side out and fold the towel in half the opposite way to make SURE that my hood edges line up evenly. I HATE having to pick out this step and do it over.

They do match! Hooray! Now you can sew the hood to the towel. After sewing the straight seam, zigzag the edge for extra strength. This is a seam that will experience some stress.

And you're all done! Sit back and enjoy the moment. In less than an hour, a unique and adorable gift for baby. One that will grow with them. 

The perfect towel, wraps a baby up warm and cozy, and a six year old too.

26 April 2010

Food Trivia

Do any of you collect recipes? What do you do with them? I have been keeping mine in file folders and in a pile on my kitchen counter and in a stack near my computer and on the floor in the office. Maybe I have too many. Regardless, today seemed like the day to organize them into a notebook (see how optimistic? Just one notebook, today) and then use the notebook to plan my menus or find a fun new dessert for entertaining. In theory, I would also be tossing the recipes that I know I will never make. 

I will show you the finished notebook sometime. I started with desserts. I pasted 10 pages of recipes, then I made Deep Chocolate Brownies. So delicious!

Deep Chocolate Brownies

1 egg
1 cup butterscotch flavor Ice cream topping
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups flaked coconut

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 12 ounce pkg. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan; set aside. 
In a small mixing bowl beat one egg with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy and light colored. Stir in ice cream topping. Fold in pecans and coconut, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in cooled chocolate, 2 eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking powder, soda and salt, beat or stir in to chocolate mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in prepared pan; spread nut mixture over batter. 
Bake about 35 minutes or until golden and set. Cool in a pan on a wire rack. Makes 24 bars.

But I digress. Trivia. Trivia that I found while going through the pile of recipes.

Did you know that in 1893, the United States Supreme Court decided that certain fruits - those usually served as part of dinner - would be classified henceforth, as vegetables? Fruits remaining classified as fruits are those generally served as a dessert, the court said. Just so you know.

Can you guess which fruits are vegetables?

25 April 2010

Weekend Book Review - Sew U

I have been spending some time with this book recently. By way of forcing myself to learn to sew a shirt (for me, not my kids) I joined the "Sewing My Way to the Top" Spring challenge. You can find the button on the right. Even though I still have to make adjustments to patterns for myself, this book is a must have for anyone wanting to learn to sew or re-make clothes.

Here's the Amazon review, because it says it all:
Like knitting before it, sewing is being reclaimed by a new generation; one that is tired of poor quality and bored by homogenous design. Indie fashion designer Wendy Mullin, of Built by Wendy, teaches the creatively inclined and ultra-stylish how to make the perfect skirt, shirt, and pants. She gives readers everything they need to know to begin sewing and provides step-by-step instructions and patterns directly from her studio. She explains how to customize everything from the fit to the pockets so readers can create a thousand different looks using the same three basic patterns. These ideas will inspire readers to rethink and revamp their old clothes to make unique, custom fashions. For those who find themselves brimming with ideas, but unable to make everything themselves, Wendy also offers guidance on how to work with a tailor. Includes three Simplicity pattterns.

24 April 2010

Meet Anastasia from L'Accent Nou!

While I've been away (did you miss me? I've missed you.) I have been catching up on many things. My house is clean-er, I've read some books, and the biggered sweater for my daughter is nearly finished. I have some great things lined up to share with you. Some great recipes and book reviews, a great online magazine for all you nutty crafters out there and a tutorial. 

Best of all, I won a giveaway - a lovely pair of earrings from L'Accent Nou.

Today I want to introduce you to Anastasia. A very creative and smart lady from Russia, who lives in Majorca, (where's that?) Balearic Islands, Spain.

say it with me - ooh, aah

Her shop is called L'Accent Nou and everything she makes is beautiful and unique. Also, as a special treat, she has shared some photos from her album with us!

Have you always been crafty, or is this something you picked up more recently?

I have been crafty always. I was fascinated by plastic arts from very young age. Clay, beads, drawing and painting were my favourites.

How do you balance your time - mom, crafter, business woman, other things you do?

Ohh...difficult theme! :) It's not easy. I have 2 children: my daughter Rita is 8 years old
and my son Arnau is just 17 months old. But I say that you can find time for everything if you really want to do it!

What are some other things you enjoy (books, crafts, sports, etc.)?

I really enjoy photography and photo editing. I also love hiking and I like to travel. There are a lot of beautiful and interesting places in the world I would like to discover! 

What are some of your favorite Etsy shops?

Every day I find new people making marvelous things on Etsy! Often Etsy crafters are a great source of inspiration! I love experiments and unusual combinations and also I adore simple things!

I really love these ceramic shops:

I enjoy paintings! These two are from my favs:

It was nice surprise for me to find these shops:

and this is my jewelry "Guru" :

What is the first thing you ever made?

I remember many things: drawings, beaded bracelets, crochet... but clay was my dream always. Now here on Majorca I could go to a ceramic source and I was so happy with my clay creations like plates, cups  and jars! :)
What would you like people to know about you and about your business?

It's important for me to be passionate and enjoy. I love to do things with joy, love and personal touch. I'm happy when my customers are surprised and happy with my creations!

I am happy. I love my new earrings! 
(My ear is all you get because the rest of me is not having a good day.)

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Anastasia, and I hope you will visit L'Accent Nou. You are certain to find something there to love.

22 April 2010

More Signs of Spring

I'm not officially back, but soon... 
Just couldn't resist sharing more signs of spring. Oh my poor poor tulips.

16 April 2010

Taking Time to Lighten the Load...

It's tough for me, but I'm learning. I've got to take a short break from the blog. Maybe a week. We are deep in the school yearbook and I have several custom orders looming. Not to mention my house is a mess.
Please don't leave me - I'll be back soon with a great new tutorial!

14 April 2010

Orange and Teal Weddings are Lovely

My brother got married on Saturday to a lovely girl. We had a great time. My children absolutely loved being a part of things. As it turns out, a big part. They had no attendants other than the two ring bearers and the 4 flower girls. The venue is called Cactus and Tropicals and was a wonderful place to have a wedding.

As promised, photos of orange and teal... and some lovely people as well.

The bride and groom, surrounded by their attendants

09 April 2010

taking the weekend off

My brother is getting married on Saturday, so we are off to the wedding. I will be back on Tuesday with pictures to share. Why would you be interested? Well, the bride has chosen orange and teal for her colors, and I can't wait to see how it turns out. So bright and unique. I love it!

Also, my daughter (one of the flower girls) has just learned that she will be wearing an orange tutu. Once she stops crying, we'll see if getting her toenails done to match will help her feel better.

See, now aren't you anxious to find out all about it?  Happy weekend, see you Tuesday!

08 April 2010

signs of spring

Today was a typical April day for Denver (in my experience). Of course, Saturday when it's 75 degrees will be equally typical... We woke up to 4 inches of snow. Around noon things started to clear up, and now at 6:30 p.m. it is a balmy 43 degrees and most of the snow is gone.

Here are some things around my yard that are making me happy. The tulips and crocus in the snow, the crazy red maple that always starts to leaf out a little too early and the smart tree that waits until May. I am extra excited for Spring this year because we xeriscaped our front yard last fall and I can't wait to see if the things we planted lived through the winter. There is something to be said for landscaping for your climate. Oh, and the garden. We got big snow around the 20th of October, and we never really got around to taking care of it this winter. I just need to think compost, compost.

07 April 2010

The Cowboy Quilt

I know it's Tuesday, and usually I try to do a tutorial. But my brother is getting married on Saturday and I have soooo much to do! So, I'm going to share a couple of photos, and return to laundry, cleaning, packing, etc.

I finished the cowboy quilt for my little guy. I'm really happy with it. He likes it too, but he doesn't like to sleep under it. "Too much, too much!" He says. I guess it's a little warm...

The bed rail is an old Elmo rail that I covered in faux suede. I like how it turned out! Now I just have to get a couple of pillows and some curtains made and get the shelves and hooks up. I have some neat old cowboy hats, some rusty stars and some old pictures of great-Grandpa on the farm to finish things off. Next week. Hopefully.

Also, if you're interested, the knitted blanket at the foot of the bed is from a pattern in Adorable Knits for Tots by Zoe Mellor. I made it for him before he was born.

04 April 2010

Weekend Book Review - The Silent Boy

Jacob Stolz did not talk, but when engaged, made noises to imitate his surroundings. When the mill burns down, some wish to blame him.
Katy Thatcher was a child of privilege. A precocious child, this daughter of the small-town doctor had a keen sense of social injustice and an intuitive need to understand situations and people.She befriends Jacob.
Jacob's sister Peggy is the hired girl who works in Katy Thatcher's home. Their older sister Nell worked next door.
An interesting look at a time in America when the automobile was new, people like Jacob were "touched", hired girls were taken advantage of by their employers sons, and new babies were magically found in the garden. 
An excellent read for anyone 12 and older.

03 April 2010

Whatever Happened to Knitting with Elizabeth?

I am still knitting with Elizabeth. I finished the baby sweater and started a biggered version for my daughter. I am also casting on for the Mystery Blanket which is the project for April. I will post photos next week. Meanwhile, a couple of other projects have had my attention and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. Well, the ballerina's legs are a little wonky, but not too bad.

Felted ballerina doll 

 Frilly Hat (above) and Bright Beret (below) from Baby Beanies