Monday, August 31, 2009


I thought I would take pictures of the various material combinations I have on hand, in case anyone wanted to order a custom purse :)
Green flower cotton and brown twill
This will make a roomy purse, since both materials have a little stretch to them. 

Red polka-dot cotton and brown twill
I have more of the materials I use for my friend's purse, and if you liked it, I'll make you one, too. 
Ivory cotton and green woven-upholstery floral
I used the greenish-brown material for a yoga mat bag--a nice weight for a purse, too. 
Gold/brown heavy charmuese and black crushed velvet floral 
Need a fancy (but not itty-bitty) bag for an evening out? 
Pink polka-dot cotton and navy blue medium twill
A nice simple combination. 
Red textured cotton and blue medium twill
Feeling Patriotic? 
Red polka-dot cotton and blue medium twill 
I have a lot of the red polka-dot. 
Yellow floral knit and blue medium twill
You may recognize the yellow material from my skirt :) It looks pretty good with blue. 
Yellow floral knit with brown medium twill
...or brown!
Black crepe with white flowers
I have enough of this material for one side of the purse, but nothing for the reverse. If you're interested in this material, you would have to pick out/purchase/send me something to go with it. 
I have pictured each material with some buttons that would coordinate well, but I am open to suggestions there, too.  If you have an idea as to what button color would look best, let me know! 
Feel free to pass this along to your friends. I'm willing to do custom-custom purses (with a material of your choice), but you would have to contact me about what kinds of material would work best.  
Any takers? 

Saturday, August 29, 2009


We're in business!

I got permission from the creator of the purse pattern I used for this purse (and this one) to sell any others I make!

So, to begin.

I made this purse this afternoon from an old pair of jeans and some remnant material I found.  The pockets (and zipper) on the front are fully functional:

I used the front and back of the jeans :)

But that's not all--these jeans had a fun belt-tie-thing on the front, which I used on the (of course, reversible) inside of the purse:

And I added a nice big jean pocket on the back (or inside) of the purse, complete with a slot for your favorite pen:

I'm not sure about the price, so I'd like some feedback. Do you think $35 is about right (that would include shipping)?  Is that too much? too little?

Should I list this on etsy?

I'm planning on doing a post of the material I have and then I would take orders for purses, if people are interested.  Also, I'm happy to do custom purses if you wanted to pick out the material yourself.

Let me know!

This is exciting :)

My Sewing Angel

Momma taught me to sew when I was still in middle school.  I think the first thing I made was an Animaniacs pillow case (I still have a few yards of the material, actually...).

She bought me my very own sewing machine when I was in high school.  She had found an old Sears Kenmore (in its own cabinet) at the thrift store for $25.  Of course, we had to order about $50 worth of new parts for it and Daddy had to spruce it up, but I loved it--what a deal it was! To this day, as long as I keep it oiled and dusted, it runs smoothly and stitches beautifully.

But even though I've been sewing for years, sewing projects have never run as smoothly as my machine.  Needles break; I poke myself with pins (repeatedly); material rips; I have to re-do seam after seam; I sew pieces together accidentally.  I used to sew late into the night and as I would get more and more tired, I'd make more mistakes and get more frustrated.  A vicious cycle, but I kept on doing it.

It's true that I have made a few things that turned out well enough. I have hemmed and altered countless pairs of jeans (a common enough thing for Hobbits). I made a crazy quilt duvet cover for my comforter in college. I've made a shirt or two. I made Taylor's halloween shirt last year.  My coat turned out pretty well. But all of these projects were fraught with mishap, broken needles, and "leaving it until tomorrow."

Then something happened.

And I could sew! I made a cute little apron for my God daughter with no pattern at all.

I made a dress from a pattern I made up in my head. And it fit. And I wear it!

I made a purse from a pattern that had no instructions. And it only took one evening. And I like it.

Then I made another purse. And liked that one, too.

Suddenly sewing was something thoroughly enjoyable. Something I was doing to relax.  Something I did on my day off.  It became an effective way to let out my creativity.

Last night, I was going through my material and found 2 yards of a yellow jersey knit that I had bought on clearance.  I had intended on making a skirt from it--I even had a pattern I wanted to use.  But the pattern required a zipper and I hate zippers. So the material just sat for months.  But hey, I thought, it was a stretchy material. Maybe I could get away with no zipper and just make a comfy pull-on skirt.

Two hours later, I had this:

I didn't even realize the patterns on the yoke and the skirt matched so well until I put this picture up here. So whatever-it-was that happened between my coat and my red dress was clearly on a roll.  I stitched the skirt together while T was cleaning up the kitchen (by the way, he's been such a good sport letting me sew while he makes dinner or cleans up the kitchen. Love you, T!!).  I decided to leave the back open a bit so that it wasn't too hard to pull on (and so I didn't stress the stitches too much, since I don't have a serger) and just close it with a button and a loop (I don't particularly care for button holes, either).

I decided on three "looty" buttons:

And made three "looty" loops out of binding.

An effective (and attractive, if I do say so!) closure, for sure.

So what was it that happened? What has made sewing so much easier for me? I have to admit that I think it is Momma, watching over my shoulder from heaven.  My own sewing "angel" [since humans can't become angels] to keep my sewing projects smoothly humming.
Here's to many more happy hours creating together, Momma :) Thanks for taking care of me still!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Show Off Part II

I just thought I'd let you all know that the mei tai I made for my sister apparently works for her daughter G, who's 4!
Summer says G's legs had a red mark on them when they took her out, but I think that could be solved by tying the straps a little different. We'll have to sort that out when I visit them next weekend :)

Also, the sleep-vibes I sent with it seem to have been effective on G:
Sweet little girl :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chocolate Coco-nutty Ice Cream

Act I, Scene I

NARRATOR: It's been rather warm here lately, and I was craving ice cream.

ENTER: (Vegan) Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

STAGE LEFT: ::happy dance::



1 1/2 c. coconut milk (don't bother with the "light" stuff--coconut fat is way good for you!)
1 1/2 c. chocolate hemp milk (if you don't want to go vegan, just use regular chocolate milk)
1/4 c. sweetener of choice (I used evaporated cane juice)
1 tsp. vanilla and/or almond extract (I used both!)
1/4 - 1/2 each of the following (to your taste):
--chocolate chips
--nuts of choice (walnuts here)
--shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, as you prefer)

Combine liquid ingredients and chill (if necessary).  Freeze according to ice cream maker directions.  Add nuts, coconut, and chocolate during last few minutes of freezing.

With all the extras in this ice cream, it was stiff enough that we could have eaten it right out of the freezer bowl, but I put it in a tupperware and froze it some more. Still very tasty later on :)


Sunday, August 23, 2009

178 - Bitty

178 - Bitty
Originally uploaded by renidemus

I made the bitty bag here (from this tutorial: on Friday afternoon. Y'know, to keep all those "little things" in a woman's purse in one place.

It's rather cute, I think.

Then I made a nice big dinner for Taylor and one of his philosopher buddies.

On Saturday I spent most of the morning (while T was proctoring a test) knitting a mitten (which I would have finished if I hadn't had to undo the thumb twice). I even managed to make a delicious (!) roast chicken and clean up the kitchen.

Today I cleaned up the kitchen (some more) and made lunch AND a nice dinner while T read me Water Babies (I've never read it before). All in all, a domestic weekend. Details to follow this week.

Maybe :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Then There Were Two

I had so much fun making my purse on Monday, and it turned out so well (and I have been so happy with it), that I decided to make another one for my good friend in TX.
I used the last scraps of my pretty flower material, the strap material from Summer's mei tai, and some polka dot material I've had for years (but couldn't figure out anything to use it for!).
R said she wanted something that was both bold and neutral. I think this works alright, huh? :)
Oh, and (of course) it's reversible.
(click on the picture for a larger view)
[I'm mailing it today, R, so you should have it early next week!]

Showing Off

Ok, I admit it--this post is just going to be a show off post. I mailed my sister's mei tai to her on Monday and she received it yesterday.
Apparently she likes it! Since I got these pictures from her last night (which means she had to take the pictures, upload them to her computer, and send them to me in an email--no easy feat with two vivacious kiddies).
Summer and the non-sleeper, Carrick
(hopefully the baby carrier helps to put him to sleep!)
Summer picked out the material with me online and
I put it together.
This carrier is also reversible (yay for reversability!).
It reverses to the teal and brown material in the hood,
so that it can be "manly" when Mic wears it :)
Carrick seems pretty pleased, too :)
(don't you just LOVE his red hair?!)
In a back carry. I suspect this is how Carrick will sleep mostly,
if he does :) That way, Summer can also get lots of work done.
You can't quite see it here, but I did some decorative
stitching around the hood and on the outside edges of the body.
All in all, I'd say it was a success :)
Now if my sleep-prayers that I sent with the carrier work too,
we'll be in business!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"A Useful [Purse] keep things in."
--Winnie the Pooh, on Eeyore's birthday present
After I made my practice mei tai, I put it away--I haven't been able to try it out so far because there are no babies in Boston :( It will be safe in my hope chest, though, until there is a real baby to practice with, instead of a pillow... :)
166 - Mei Tai
But in the meantime, I really wanted to show off the fabulous material I found for it. Since I can't use the mei tai, I thought, I'll make a purse. A girl can never have too many purses, and homemade ones are always so much more fun that storebought ones (after all, if you're going to have something you don't "need" (like a purse to match every outfit and occasion), you might as well be thrifty and make it yourself!). For some reason, no matter how much I like a purse at the store, I can rarely justify buying a new one when I have others at home... oh well :)
Anyway, I downloaded the pattern, cut and pasted the pieces together and then (get this) I actually finished the purse in one night! I was completely shocked when (albeit at midnight) I knotted the thread on the last decorative button.
But here's the other funny thing. I love reversible things. I hardly ever reverse them to whatever-color-is-on-the-other-side, but I love to have things that are reversible. Maybe because I feel like the thing is finished better if it's acceptable for the outside even on the inside? So I made this purse reversible, too.
And don't forget the pocket on the back (that's on the inside when the flowers are out):
Of course, the purse isn't perfect by any means, and I could point out several flaws. But Most people would say that give it "character" (or something). That's fine with me :) I don't mind a purse with character.
Especially if it's so pretty.
This afternoon Taylor and I are wandering up to Cambridge to spend time at 1369 Coffee House and to browse our favorite furniture store, Asian Dynasty Furniture. We're currently saving up (or, at least we're thinking about saving up) for a Japanese kaidan tansu (a step chest). You can see some good examples here (scroll down to read about the history of the step chest--quite interesting, and very sneaky!). What I love about these chests is that they are also reversible (hmm, can you see a theme here?). That is, the doors and drawers and cubbies open from both sides so it can act as a room divider or so you can arrange the steps any way you want. Someday we'll have an awesome (useful) tansu, to keep things in.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I have taken screen shots of my iGoogle homepage before with my happy ladybugs cheering up my screen. This morning, when I was looking at National Geographic's picture of the day (which is just awesome in itself), one of my ladybugs was sitting in just the right spot.
Certainly made for a double-take and a happy smile for me :)
In other news for us this week: We attended St. Clement's Dormition Mass and the beginning of Perpetual Adoration in Boston (after a 40 year hiatus!). The liturgy was lovely and it's so good to have PA so close again--I was very spoiled growing up. I could visit the Blessed Sacrament Chapel anytime I wanted. I'm glad to have it again :) I hope that Boston can keep it up!
I also finished the mei tai for my oldest sister (I'm still waiting for the last piece of material for Bethany's mei tai) and will mail it off today. I'm not too worried about her finding out either, since her little ones keep her pretty busy and she can't check online as often as I do :D
I've been keeping up my 365 project pretty consistently (yeah, I've fudged on a few days, but no one can tell but me). Check it out if you're interested.
I have successfully rearranged the bedroom to fit our new dresser! I found the piece on Craig's list and am so happy with it. It's larger than the one T had before and it has room for (almost) all our sweaters (which means we can stop keeping them in the drawers in the living room :P). I know--I'm a total geek for blogging about our new furniture, but hey, it's what I do. Still trying to sell off our living room furniture, though... annoying that no one wants it!
Still crafting here and there. Finished my niece's birthday present; want to start a bag from the leftover material from my mei tai; haven't looked at the kimono in months; mending keeps accumulating. But I've done a good job or re-organizing a lot of my material, crafting notions, card-making accoutrements, and general house-hold-stuffage. I guess I missed spring cleaning and have made it late-summer cleaning :Þ
Life in general is going well for us. T starts law school at the end of this month (should be an intense year, but we're not too worried about it); we've had a productive yet relaxing summer and we got to see lots of friends and a lot of our family; we'll have Thanksgiving at Daddy's house this year; C'mas (probably) at T's parents' house; (New Years in Hawaii?); spring break in the Virgin Islands (I know, you're probably wondering: "WHAT?!" Well, you'll just have to wait and see).
That's all for now.
Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just Cute

T and I had some popcorn yesterday (with butter, what a treat!), and I noticed the butter (which I use to grease pans and sometimes ends up in funny shapes) looked like little houses. So I lined them up :)
Rather like a little row of hobbit houses, huh? Well.. maybe not :) (Hobbits build houses in the ground, not out of butter.)
But aren't they cute anyway?
The popcorn was pretty darn tasty, too :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Five Months

It comes in waves. I will be fine for several days, sometimes even a week or two at a time. And then it washes over me anew and I just have to ride it out. During the waves I cry a lot at little things; I get irritable; my body is more tired than seems normal; I am listless. I still manage to get a few things done, but I do them reluctantly and very slowly. I spent a lot of time online, looking around at various things, basically ignoring any responsibilities pressing in on me.
At other times, life seems to continue normally. I still miss her, but it feels more like "Oh, I haven't called in a while--I should do that soon--but I've been so busy." Of course, thoughts like those are fleeting and quickly brushed away by the persistent reminder that I can't call her anymore. Ever. Feeling "normal" isn't a normal "normal" anymore. I'm not trying to complain, that's just the way it is now.
Normal means laughing and having a good time, praying (always), doing my chores and spending time with Taylor, talking to my siblings and Daddy, Rejoicing!, sewing, knitting, going to work :Þ, visiting with friends and family. But always in the back of my mind, I am reminded of her, things she would like, things I would like to ask her, things I'd like to tell her, just to see what she thinks.
"Normal" is life without her. But not entirely without. Not only does she live on in many ways in each of the people she knew, but she is with us all more closely now. I often find myself talking to her (not crazy-like). "Look, Momma, I made a pretty dress." or "Look, Momma! My cookies turned out just like yours." and "I miss you, Momma" (always). It helps me to think of her smile and remember how proud of me she is. It hurts, and it makes me cry, too, but "not all tears are an evil."
5 months. That's nearly half a year. Will it always be like this--like she died just yesterday and yet ages and ages ago? Will I eventually get used to her being gone like this, or will I always find myself thinking about calling her to chat about sewing or cooking or my work day?
I don't know.
We love you, Momma.
And we miss you...

Saturday, August 8, 2009


T saw this out our kitchen window this evening (over dinner with Burke). We're on the very top floor in the reflection, second window in from the left. That's our kitchen. The next two windows are our living room; next the bedroom (over the main door to the building).
Kinda fun to see your whole house in a window, huh?

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Some of you may remember that our good friend Mandy came up to my dad's house to take our family pictures in May (no small feat, since we have 25 people (almost half of whom are children) and that's a lot of faces to get to smile all at once).
Well, she's updated her website with some adorable pictures of her little girl (check out Bath Time under her portfolios tab), and I wanted to let you all know that I'm getting pretty excited to see her magic touch on our family photos :)
Here is a small sampling of some of the photos she put up on facebook (please don't copy these or use them elsewhere--they're copyrighted!)
this one's my favorite :)
And here's Carrick:
And Noni:
So, needless to say, I'm pretty excited to see the other pictures Mandy took. She's quite possibly the best photographer I've ever encountered, and we're very happy to have had her do our family pictures :) Thanks, Mandy!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Yep, that's me. I've already had a conversation with my sister about this, and I'm still convinced I'm right.
Many of you may recall the many and varied handmade cards I've sent for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, new babies, etc. I have thoroughly enjoyed spreading out all over our living room floor, creating one unique card after another, lovingly personalizing each aspect of the card.
But alas, for whatever reason, my creativity of late has been waning and I cannot seem to "pump out" as many cards as before. But I also can't bear the thought of not sending cards at all or buying them (T still doesn't like that idea, and it'd be way spendy for us).
And so, I have contrived a compromise.
Photo cards:
157 - Cheating
I know technically these are still hand made cards, but they're so easy to put together I do feel like I'm cheating a little bit. I am justifying this to myself because of the fact that these are all pictures I took myself. Even pictures that I like :) So that's good.
The best part is that I shouldn't be late in sending out cards anymore (did I mention that I have a card made for all our family and friend birthdays/anniversaries/foreseeable-card-appropriate-events through June next year?) I still have to add some stamping to the cards, and sign them, write where the photo was taken, etc. But having the basic card already made will make a world of difference for me as I continue to settle in to this year.
At least, here's hopin'!
[Now all I have to do is remember to take the cards out and finish them at the beginning of each month!]