Monday, March 30, 2009

"We are concerned. . ."

said T & L last night. Can't help it, I need power and access to power! And Costco is enabling me. The latest is set of the Duracell power chargers. In a convenient two pack! I've got tons of AA's leftover from my old camera, which devoured them frequently. (Photo not shown - hand crank flashlights, also from Costco a few years ago)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.
This week - The Purl Bee Gorgeous photgraphy, cute projects!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Three Day Pattern Sale -- April 2-4:

McCall's - $1.99
Vogue - $3.99

Pre-Easter Sale -- April 9-11

Simplicity - 99 cents
50% off notions
50% off buttons
50% off interfacing and fiberfill

Can't wait for the Simplicity sale? Hobby Lobby this week has Simplicity for $1.99. . .

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Girl Scout Vest - Teenage Girl Scout Level

This khaki vest is for the older Girl Scouts - from Cadettes to Seniors to the newest level, Ambassadors. The Ambassador Girl Scout is a high school Junior or Senior (11th-12th grades). They wear the vest with the Girl Scout Bandana as their uniform.

The stars with the colored discs indicate the years and levels of Girl Scouting - Yellow for Brownies, Green for Juniors, White for Cadettes, Red for Seniors and Navy Blue for Ambassadors. The wings and rainbow bars represent fly-up and bridging to the next level of Girl Scouts. These are for Brownies and Juniors. The bridging activities are done with a troop. L became a Juliette - independent Girl Scout - after Juniors when her troop disbanded. (The Juliette program is a great way to stay involved in scouting, you don't need to belong to a troop.)

The rectangular squares along the bottom are Interest Project Patches. You can put them on either or both sides.

I must say, I am really liking the new insignia tab - instead of felt, it's grosgrain ribbon. No more twisting and pulling out of shape. L also prefers the gold traditional trefoil pin over the silhouette one. The PA's are Program Aide patches, Cadette and Senior levels. To the right of them, the Studio 2B charms and pin are heavy -- I put a piece of felt on the back of the vest and pinned through to support the weight and keep it from falling forward. I also put a little hand stitch between each charm loop to keep them spaced apart and facing the right way.

On the back of the vest are all the activity, group and fun patches, from cookie sales to camps to events.

L is completing her Gold Award project within the next few months. Staying in scouting through high school for her has proven invaluable, providing her leadership opportunities, service to the community, skill-building, personal growth and life-long friendships.

Burda WOF April 2009 - #147 Bottle Bags

This was a fast and easy project to sew! I found it in the Burda World of Fashion April 2009 issue's Children's Fashion section on Page 58. All you need to do is measure your water bottle from the neck down and add 3 1/4" to the length to allow for tying the bottom shut. Then measure the circumference and add 3/4" for the seam allowance. For the Costco/Kirkland water bottle, your measurements will be 8 3/4" length and 9" circumference. Or just make it easy and cut a 9" x 9" scrap of fabric. (Bandanas would be a good source of material, too - especially if you find them on sale.) If you still have the selvedge, you can arrange your layout and use that for the top to save an extra step finishing one of the edges. If you want to add trim to the top and bottom, do it before you sew the side seam - it's still doable if you change your mind and want to do so afterwards, as I did. The strap measures 28 inches. Burda suggests 3/8" ribbon or Fast-Turn loops. I butted the edges of the lace to make a wider strap. Because of the weight of the bottle, you may want to consider a ribbon or strap to be about 1" for comfort. I also used a new, leftover children's shoe lace to tie the bottom closed. Easier to tie and untie to let the cover dry out between uses. If you want to use ribbon, you'll need about 6 inches or a little bit longer.

I think this would also make a cute birthday or pool party favor - with different fabrics they can easily identify their own water bottle. While obviously not that practical on warm days, it's an easy way to transport your bottle for a walk or to free your hands if you plan to drink your water sooner than later.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Bitter:Sweet, "The Bomb" 3:05

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You need to see this

I still can't figure out how to have the video player appear, but click on this link to hear an incredible performance of our national anthem -- and the girls are only 6-8 years old!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1963 McCall's Tote Bag

I found this unused, uncut pattern for only 25 cents at a thrift store a few years ago. I bought it not only for the pattern, but the applique/embroidered initial iron-on transfers. The original price was 75 cents, I bet probably a little pricey for 1963. There were lots of options - fabric choices, trim - with fringe-making instructions, pockets, flaps, lining for the bags, including a leather skin layout (!). I cut apart the legs along the inner seam of a pair of old jeans.
I used a back pocket for the outside and the upper front pocket stitched to the inside for my cell phone, keys -- to attach to the belt loop, etc. By just edge-stitching the pocket sides and not along the top, I was able to double the pocket real estate by creating two pockets. Instead of lining, I finished the edges and then stitched some vintage trim alongside it. The gold trim was also from a thrift store "goody bag" find and matched the jeans' topstitching thread. The outside pocket's feather accent is a $3.90 hair clip from H&M. I stitched just above the jean hem to close the bottom of the bag - I wanted to incorporate the look and leave the option to easily add fringe or beading later. The finished size measures 19" from strap to bottom, 13" wide.

No Strings Attached Chicken Rotisserie Crockpot Soup

When all you have left is the rotisserie chicken carcass, stick it into a crockpot, add water, carrots, onion, garlic, seasoned pepper, a little chicken soup base - cover and let simmer. But be sure you remove the string holding the wings and legs underneath first! (Hmm, chicken seems a little stringy...)
After I crock it for about 6 hours, I strain it and put the broth into a container and refrigerate overnight -- to let the fat rise to the surface so I can skim it away. Then I reheat it and add fresh sliced carrots, chicken bits, 2 cups of egg noodles and voila! I think the rotisserie seasonings help to make a pretty and flavorful broth. And it is one more money-saving way to get another meal out of the bird. Leftovers freeze easily -- I put a bowlful amount in individual Zip-locs and freeze flat to save space.

Garden Update

New additions to the garden -- "Zinfandel" Oxalis vulcanicola with pretty yellow flowers.

Thought I would try Pesto Perpetuo Basil this year. The purple basil may still come back.

But the Rock Rose did!
Just transplanted these Indian Paintbrushes. They should have more blooms and get brighter and more orange-y as soon as they settle in a bit more.
Look at the Heliotrope! It quadrupled in size practically overnight and is still growing and setting more tiny but powerfully fragrant purple flowers.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

September, "Satellites" 3:06

Monday, March 23, 2009

Money Monday - Urawaza!

I first heard of the Japanese word Urawaza - meaning clever tips and tricks - when I read Paul Boutin's article in the February 19 Circuits section of the New York Times. He listed several neat low-tech fixes for high-tech problems. My favorite was using your head (literally) to extend the range of your remote car door opener by holding the metal part of the key fob against your chin and then pressing the button, turning your head into an antenna to make the signal go a little bit farther! And Lisa Katayama is the author of "Urawaza," a collection of clever (and cheap) ways to solve problems with what you have on hand. Anything you can do to make something work better and last a little longer is a great way to save money.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

A-Punk, "Vampire Weekend" 2:18

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Java (Jelly) Bean Coffee Cup Sleeve

I combined two ideas for coffee cup sleeves. The pattern for the "Java Jacket" is from CK Media's Quick Gifts holiday issue and the closure idea is from House on Hill Road/Erin Harris' Coffee Cozy.
I needed to adjust the curve on the pattern, as for some reason it was wider at the center and didn't appear even when it was wrapped around the cup. I'm also thinking you may want to also make the band about 1, 1 1/2 ,or even 2 inches narrower, depending upon what size drink you usually order. (You could also use a cardboard cup sleeve as the pattern.) Instead of following the directions of sewing right sides together and turning inside out, I sandwiched the batting between the wrong sides of the fabric...and machine quilted around some of the jelly beans. Being a little too lazy this afternoon to switch out the serger threads, I did a serpentine stitch along the edges and then a narrow zig zag over the edge. I liked Erin's idea of using a new hair elastic to loop around a button - this will help the sleeve accommodate differently-sized cups. (My model is a 20 ounce cup from Buc-ee's.)
Pam Archer's "Java Jacket" article also suggested different alternatives such as adding small ball fringe to the lower edge, an outside pocket , or using ironing board insulation instead of batting for extra-hot coffee.
This is a fun and quick little gift to sew showcasing cool buttons, trim and using some stashed fabrics or leftover technique practice pieces.

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.

This week - Unclutterer ...Because hope springs eternal.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bunny, Hop - Burda 7997

An "egg-stra" special bunny in this stash VIP Cranston Easter egg print.

Since the time I made the shorts from this pattern last August, I fear it has been discontinued, as I could not find it on the Burda website. 7997 may still be in the store catalog. I hope so, there's a lot of goodies in this pattern.

It went together fairly easily and quickly. I liked the fact I didn't have to sew and then turn the pieces rightside out. You stitch and then finish the raw edges wrong sides together.

I didn't want the embroidered face to get lost in the print, so I thread traced the markings on a lightweight interfacing on the wrong side of wool felt, and then narrow zig-zagged the features. I jazzed up the eyes with adhesive rhinestone flower "tatoos" from last summer's Target Dollar Spot offerings. It gave it a little bling and kept the eyes from looking too creepy.

He needed a tail - so I hot glued a cotton ball to his backside! The End

Hello Kitty Computer!

My HP Mini computer goes Hello Kitty with the addition of two Hello Kitty stickers from the Target Dollar Spot! The sheet of "Jumbo" puffy HK stickers are priced at $2.50; but give you plenty of Spring Hello Kitty sticker decorating opportunities.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Carrot Raisin Bread

On "Live with Regis and Kelly" this morning, they were talking about Pepperidge Farm's Raisin Bread, and then a little bit later reading The Naughty Secretary's blog, she was talking about carrot raisin bread - but didn't post a recipe. So I Googled "Carrot Raisin Bread" and found this recipe from Unity Health, provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutions of Health. A long way to get a slice around here, and you know it has to be healthy coming from these sources. I gave it a try this morning and give it an A!

I divied the batter into my three 3 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 loaf pans, and rotated them in the oven every 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. An extra pan to wash, but I saved 20 minutes in the oven. I used regular raisins instead of golden raisins, and figured it wouldn't make that much difference. It didn't and next time I may add a little bit more, maybe 1/3 cup. Trying to measure 1 1/2 cups of shredded carrots proved messy and daunting, so I just went with two regular sized carrots in the Cuisinart Little Chopper. Chopped, shredded - it looked good to me. I also used Penzeys Ceylon cinnamon. I think the cinnamon and the allspice helped make it not only smell wonderful while baking, but taste better, too. And I loved the chopped pecans for a little extra crunch. Normally I don't repost the recipes from online sources, but nowadays, you don't know who or what companies - especially insurance - may still be around when all said and done.


1½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground allspice
1 egg, beaten
½ cup water
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cup finely shredded carrots
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Stir together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Make a well in center of dry mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients and add this mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir just enough to moisten and evenly distribute carrots. Turn into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the pan. Remove the loaves from the pans and complete cooling on a wire rack before slicing. One serving size is a ½ inch slice.
Calories = 99 Fat = 3 g Cholesterol = 12 mg Sodium = 97 mg

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patrick's Day 2010

Or next week's new toy for Grandma's cat! I dunno about this one. I went along with Martha Stewart's Zipper Flowers basic idea of using a zipper and folding/wrapping/forming the flower...But decided to use needle and thread to secure the petals instead of a hot glue gun! This was the longest zipper I had in the stash (20" versus a 36"?!) and an odd enough color I didn't think I would be using any time soon. A fast, quirky project if you have an assortment of leftover zippers.

Valentine's Day 2010

But isn't any time is a good time for hearts and love? This "Blossoming Brooch" project was from the February issue of Martha Stewart Living's Good Things column. Instead of lace I used wire-edged ribbon from Costco -- in the lifetime-sized 50 yard roll. I loved the heart edging - good for all year-round. I used a 34" piece and gathered it to about 12". I think the wire helped it form a good shape and stay in place. Not only will this look cute as a pin, but also for package decorations or any other opportunity for a flower to brighten your day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wearing o' the Green! - Shamrock Boutonniere pins

Or, "Mom did you really sew this to my uniform vest?!" Yes, yes I did! Just the top ribbon cockade part though.

I found the link to Martha Stewart's Shamrock Boutonniere, at the Craft Gossip site yesterday afternoon and finished them while watching "Dancing with the Stars." Don't we all do better under a little pressure? (Sewing and DWTS)

The larger shamrock is the template I used for ours. I sort of followed Martha's directions. . .
1) I traced the shamrocks onto clear plastic...2) went into the stash and pulled the shamrock fabrics, cut two each 3" x 5" of each fabric...3) discovered I didn't (or couldn't find) my Wonder Under and used a piece of non-fusible interfacing sandwiched between...4) I stitch-traced along the templates and learned the small one is just too small... 5) Then I zig-zagged 1.5 L x 2.0 W around each shamrock and cut out... 6) Folded each leaf in half and pressed, then stitched along the crease...7) I didn't have floral wire, but I had metallic silver pipecleaners and I attached the shams to them.

I grouped three together and tied with two green bows. L thought hers needed more bling, so I added a string of green sequins and the shamrock bow on top. I tied mine together with the wired shamrock ribbon. We are good to go! Just cross your fingers she will be lucky enough to slip under the uniform police radar at school.

Et tu, Threads?

Anyone else notice Threads Magazine increased their price from $4.99 to $6.99 with the new issue (#142 May 2009)? I will still keep buying it, but only with Jo-Ann's and Barnes and Noble coupons. Maybe that's why they raised the price?

P.S. On the positive side, I loved Kenneth King's roses article on page 59 - they are gorgeous!

Hello Kitty, Hello Spring!

Check out the new totebag for Hello Kitty at the Target Dollar Spot. This version is priced at $2.50, but it is much sturdier. Pretty in pink with "grosgrain ribbon" handles and coated fabric. It measures 10" x 12" x 3".

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1049 - Views A & B

Grab Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1049 top collection while it is still in the catalog! Both Views A & B are winners. There is an optional cutting line with View A so you don't have to make it asymmetrical. The View B tank is reversible, but you could also just add a facing or simply turn the edges under 3/8" and topstitch, as I did in my trial run. Good news for petites, View A is another shorty - I had to add 3" in length and 1 1/2" to the sleeves. I also noted it had a closer fit -- you may want to cut between your next size up to give you a little more fudging room, depending upon the thickness of your fabric. The facings are cut-on and incorporated into the front and back pieces. It even included a dart for the front! (Note that the back piece #2 is mislettered at the center fold line, it says F instead of E, even though it is the E fold line. So if you are highlighting to make your size stand out, start with the side/shoulder seams and trace across.) I also loved her method of doing the shoulder seams. The shaping of the neckline and shoulder seams of the View B tank top is subtle and flattering. View B's directions also suggest using piping between the two fabrics to hide the reversible layer, or giving a faux piping effect by pressing one layer up a bit and topstitching to keep in place.

Money Monday - Go Green!

I try to drink lots of water and get at least two servings of green tea a day. With the exception of the cooler temperatures this past weekend, it's hard to drink hot green tea when it's warmer. I was using the Lipton tea to go packets, but they didn't always dissolve completely, had a somewhat off-taste and were costly. I decided to try making my own, reusing the water bottle from the morning's workout so by the time I left to get my daughter from school, it would be cold enough to grab and go. I've got a big mug to hold the refilled 16.9 ounces/500 ml of water to microwave and make my green tea. (Costco sells a box of 100 green tea bags for around $12). Add a little bit of honey, let cool , pour back into the bottle and refrigerate. Not only do I reuse my water bottle one more time before recycling, but I can make my own non-clumping, chemical-free green iced tea for less than 15 cents.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.

This week - By Any Other Name/Needles, Pins, Thorns A sewing blog by Rose in California. Cool projects and she has a great list of more sewing-related blogs.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1085 - View A

Vogue 1085 View A, the raglan-sleeved top with drapey neckline. This is my second version. I used a raspberry red knit for the first run, automatically adding 2 3/4" to the back/front length and the sleeves...but it was too long! A first! It was also too tight - was the chocolate Zinger tasty treat I succumbed to last night to blame? (OK, two Zingers.) I couldn't save it, even shortening the length and using 1/4" serged side seams. Sandra allows 1" seam allowances for the side seams, all the others are 5/8". So I retaped the pattern pieces back together and added a little extra to the side seam allowances for this one. I was going to use the leftover neck binding piece until I tried to pin it to the neckline - it wasn't stretching enough to fit. I tried tugging it and there was hardly any stretch. Did I cut it on the wrong grainline? No, the problem was the stretchy part of the knit was lengthwise. So it wasn't the Zinger's fault! It was the $1/yard Wal-Mart stash fabric, which I just assumed had the stretch going crossgrain! I still liked the contrast look and recut the binding. I also ended up taking out some of the side seam allowances, too. Whew! Sandra's sleeves still run just a little short on my arms, I think it needed an extra 1" in length. This view also has a pouch pattern piece for a weight to tuck into the front binding to help the neckline drape. Sandra suggests a quarter, though for this fabric it was a little too heavy and I went with a nickel instead. Also good to know you can also make this in a woven using a bias layout to increase the versatility, for just a bit more fabric. The one thing (two?) I realized while wearing it about today how it pulled across the bustline. Later tonight I pulled the front pattern piece and noticed the apex point was lower - lower than where the raglan sleeve met the side seam. Yet despite my tugging up, down and out, I was higher. Even the draping effect couldn't disguise it. Check the pattern to see how it corresponds to you. Honestly, I liked and bought the pattern for the wrap top, View B. I'll stick with Sandra's Vogue 2945 when I want another draped-front top.