Four Favorites Friday

Here are my four favorite finds of the week:

1. Extra's Strawberry Shortcake gum. I've seen this on The Biggest Loser, and I was skeptical. After eating my weight in Muddy Buddies this weekend, I decided a 5 calorie stick of gum wouldn't hurt--even if it didn't curb my sweet tooth. Thing is, it actually helps!

2. This amazing recipe for egg's Benedict. If I'm not successful... well I'm in Paris staying with a chef who's training at Le Cordon Bleu. Ooooh PJ! Feel like cooking?

3. The Le Pliage bag from Longchamp. I've seen these bags around & always thought one would look cute hanging off my shoulder; only now do I know what brand they are. I wasn't pleased when I saw the price, but a nurse I work with told me they're about 1/3 the price in Paris. Hopefully! I'll let you know. The tote is in graphite, and the folded up tote is taupe.

4. This pretty pillow is on my to-do list. I'm hoping to make two of these for my bed after returning from Paris. So feminine, simple & lovely.

One lesson I learned this week: Don't be shy; people are quite interesting if you open up the dialogue.


Tea Cozy/Sleeve Tutorial

Frequent the local coffee shop? I do. Instead of using one of their coffee cozies (my name for the thing they put on so you don’t scald your hand), why not make your own!
According to the dictionary (definition number five under “cozy”), a cozy is: a padded covering for a teapot, chocolate pot, etc., to retain the heat. This will work for the thing that prevents burning of the hand too, I suppose. These make great gifts! Once you’ve made one of these puppies you officially have permission to hit up the local tea/coffee shop, and snuggle up to a piping hot cup of love (that will not burn your hand). I recommend an almond latté or a London Fog latté (which is Earl Grey tea, vanilla, and steamed milk… i.e. heavenly... or make your own). Don't drink caffeine? These work well for Crystal Cappuccinos (as my favorite Sisters call it) also (i.e. hot water). It’s still cold outside, so these are perfect, but don’t worry coffee and tea are good no matter the weather.
You will need:
2 pieces of fabric (you can use the same print or two different)
Sewing machine
Cotton batting
Velcro/elastic/button (whichever you prefer; I love that vermilion button)

To make a hand warmer thingy, I based mine off of one that coffee shops actually use (i.e. I saved one from a previous drink). I placed the unfolded cardboard on some fabric and traced around it as a template. I then cut out this fabric & used it as a guide to cut out the interfacing, batting and fabric. I used one piece of interfacing ironed to my Robin Egg Blue fabric, cream fabric, and one piece of cotton batting. [I'm sure this would work with two pieces of interfacing and two fabrics, but I thought a little extra cushiness & fabric would put more layers between your hand and the hot cup. Your choice! I am going to try one without the batting.]
After cutting, iron interfacing onto fabric according to the directions on the package.
Layer the cozy with cream colored fabric, elastic loop side in, top fabric pattern side down, and on top batting [optional].
Sew around three edges (including the one with elastic).
Turn right side out using the open side.
Top stitch around. The loop should be sticking out of one of the sides now. Hand sew the button onto the top side of the fabric (the edge without the loop). Now attach to a cup & grab some Joe!
Here's how mine turned out:

This looks about as delicious as a cup of coffee! Enjoy!

mmm button


Letter Writing Week: Reflection

Letter writing week 2011 has come to a close & here are my reflections on it. As I mentioned, Griffin & I relished in letters during the first few years of our relationship. Being in a long distance relationship, letters were tangible evidence of the abstract love we had for each other. We learned to love the adventure of dropping off parcels in the mail and unlocking our mailboxes in search of the next treasure. Sometimes we would include random tidbits in each letter. I remember putting some confetti in a letter to him from the AFC Championship game 2007 where the Colts beat the Patriots. He would include the heart from his favorite cereal: Grape Nut Flakes. It was endearing & I hope one day our future children will find them interesting when we show them how we managed to love each other from a far distance away.

Letter writing, like any relationship, takes time. In order to get something out of it, you have to put time into it, and that means making time. I learned that this week. After three & a half years of a long distance relationship, writing letters every week has been transformed into daily 10-15 minute conversations and occasional video chatting. I really had to plan for these lettters, make time to write them each day. It was time for Griffin & time for myself. Overall, this was a good reminder that 10-15 minutes each day isn't going to cut it. Letters are, in some ways, more intimate than phone conversations. You get to see pen on paper from someone who spent time carving out each letter individually; it's much more concrete than an email.
So, that being said, I will revert back to my snail-mail fetish and be a letter-writer once more. For me, it's easy to get lazy, but I'm really going to try. Those who will be receiving long overdue letters from me will be my college roommate, my four-year daily Mass friend from Creighton, and my grandma.
Long live letters!


Sleepytime Eye Mask Tutorial

Here's another lovely travel accessory that will come in handy on a long plane ride or during an afternoon nap. I love taking naps; just ask my college roommates! Here's a quick homemade project you can do with leftover material you have. I made pajama pants for my friends & family for Christmas, so I have plenty of leftover flannel, which seems like the perfect softness for the eyes.

Cotton batting
Fabric marker
Sewing machine
Optional: corresponding fabric to cover the elastic

To make the design of the eye mask, I used an old eye mask I had on hand & traced around it on the fabric leaving generous space. Cut this out of the fabric

Use this piece of cut fabric to cut the opposing side.  Place upside down on the right side up fabric and cut (this will ensure that the eye pieces match up perfectly). Cut out one piece of batting using the pattern.

The flannel I used was white, so I needed a dark fabric to help darken the eye mask. I used a dark blue. Lay the darkening fabric down first (if necessary), then the flannel, design up. Lay the second piece of flannel pattern side down. Place batting on top & pin. Sew around the top & bottom, but leave both the sides open (this will make attaching the elastic a bit easier). Flip right side out.

If you choose to cover the elastic, cut a piece of fabric that is double the width of your fabric + 1/2 inch and about 3 inches longer (this will create a bunched look). Fold in half right sides together & sew along the open edge using 1/4 seam allowance. Flip right side out. Use a safety pin to pull elastic through.

Stick each side of the elastic into the sides of the eye mask, pin & top stitch.

Grab a cup of Sleepytime tea, find a cozy place to cuddle up & get some zzzz's.

Here's the one I made my sister:

Catch a Glimpse Button


Four Favorites Friday

Four Favorites of the week Friday:
1. This recipe for fried goat cheese. So rich, so gorgeous, and teetering on sinful. I will make this recipe tonight. I will put it on top of a salad & dig in.

2. Working out with Beto. I've only done this in the comfort of my own living room. Not quite sure how I would fare at a live Zumba class. Ha!
3. Pushing Daisies. This lovely show was only on for 22 episodes before it got the boot. I love it & I know that it had a huge fan base. I ♥ Netflix because they have both seasons on instant stream & no commercials! (Only two episodes until I’m done watching the series… tres triste).

4. Savory Spice Shop. I bought some vanilla beans along with some delicious spices from this lovely place. I'm hoping to make my own vanilla extract using this idea. I'm excited!


One lesson I learned this week: don't hesitate going to the doctor when you feel sick.


Luggage Tags Tutorial

More travel accessories! Our trip to Paris is only 8 days away! I can hardly beleive it! Here's a tutorial for some cute bag tags. One of my mottos is to use what you've got. I couldn't find my stash of interfacing so I used some cotton batting instead.

Thin elastic
A few different fabric scraps (size is up to you)
Thin-tipped Sharpie
Scissors, a sewing machine
Interfacing/batting/old gift card/cardboard

So, here's what you do:
Cut 2 rectangles out of the fabric (fabrics 1 & 2). Cut a rectangle out of the interfacing that is just slightly shorter than fabrics 1 & 2.

Cut a smaller rectangle out of the canvas (use what you have on hand). This is fabric 3. Print all the information you want onto the canvas using fabric ink and stamps or a fabric marker. I used a thin-tipped Sharpie & it didn't bleed on the canvas. Turned out quite nice.

Cut about a 6-8 inch sized piece of elastic (this is what you'll use to attach the tag to your suitcase).

Sew fabric 3 onto fabric 2 using a zig-zag or other decorative stitch.

To assemble, place fabric 1 right side up on your surface, place the loop of elastic on top of fabric 1 (with loop facing inward), lay fabric 2 right side down on top, and interfacing on the very top.

Sew around three sides (including the elastic side). Sew back and forth over the elastic a few times to strengthen it.

Flip right-side out.

Sew a top stitch over the fourth side to close the tag up. Or you can top stitch all the way around. This is your finished product! Now go find a suitcase that needs some love.


Passport Cover Tutorial

For Christmas I bought my sister (and myself) a ticket to Paris. We leave January 20th and are so excited to traverse the globe a little bit. Not to mention I will be catching up with a best friend from college who is studying there at Le Cordon Bleu!

So, what better reason to have a hand-crafted passport cover than a trip abroad! I'm crafting these cuties & will give one to her as a gift on the way to the airport.

You will need a few medium sized pieces of fabric (your chance to be creative, use two or three different patterns), a sewing machine, scissors & pins.

Here's what to do:

Lay out your open passport out and trace with 3/4 inch space all around.

Cut two pieces using this measurement. Place right side together and sew all the way around leaving a 2 inch hole. Turn right side out and press (don't worry about the hole, you will sew it up later). I like to poke my corners out a bit using my crochet hook.

For the sides the passport will slide into, measure 1/2-3/4 of the passport's length. Cut out four pieces with this measurement. Sew two pieces right sides together around three sides & turn right-side out. Repeat for the other two pieces.

Pin the sides to the larger piece you sewed earlier. Pin to the side you want to be the outside and put the inside face down.

Sew all the way around. Flip the sides in & slide your passport in!

Bon voyage!


Old T-shirt to Trendy Tote Bag

Who doesn't have an old t-shirt looming around and taking up space in their closet? Let's be honest, I have too many. Most have some sort of sentimental value, so the idea of trashing them or getting rid of them makes me a wee bit sad. Here's an idea to up-cycle an old t-shirt that holds a special place in your heart. Convert it to a tote bag and it will have a special place for your groceries to nestle up inside. I originally saw this idea on Martha Stewart and have since seen many ideas for this project. I'm going the classic route & using an old t-shirt. You can also use up some fabric scraps to add some fun (& color). [I suggest adding embellishments at the beginning of the project; it makes things a bit easier]

Start with a flat, inside-out, washed & ironed t-shirt. Pin along the bottom of the shirt & sew. I like a rounder bottom, so I sewed an arc by the sides. Cut off the excess fabric.

Cut both sleeves off the shirt. These will be the handles.

Use a large bowl to trace around the neck of the shirt. Cut out the half circle you just traced. This will be the opening to the bag.

Now turn the shirt right side out and you're ready to load the new bag up with a change of clothes, some groceries, or books to return to the library. Here's my bag stuffed with books. It's quite stretchy & has a lot of room. A traditional tee works well too!

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!


Paint sample mantra mosaic

I’m all about color. I love adding color to just about everything. For this project you’ll have the opportunity to add some chromatic goodness. Got some paint samples from your last remodel of the bathroom? Yeah, me neither. I just pick them up whenever I pass the paint aisle because I think they’re pretty & awesome. What started out as a daydream about making a music video to Regina Spektor’s “Blue Lips” ended with a fascination for paint samples. Needless to say I’ve accumulated quite a few. What better way to use them than a CRAFT project!

a piece of cardboard, a canvas, or a piece of cardstock (I used the one that came in the frame itself)
an assortment of paint samples (hit up Home Depot or a paint store for the motherload of colors)
double-sided tape squares
a colorful quote

After brainstorming a quote or word you love, cut up you paint strips into squares, circles, or whatever shape you want. Arrange them on your cardboard (or what you’re using) & begin adhering them with double-sided tape. Keep it up until every square inch is covered in colorful goodness. This last part is up to your discretion. You can write the quote in Sharpie, being as creative as you please (I haven't done mine yet, so thank you computer editing software). You could also print a quote or word out & glue it on letter by letter (if you’re like me and don’t have a Cricut cutter). You could use patterned paper and cut out letters. You could paint your quote on. ANYTHING. Be creative. After you’re done and the paint/decoupage/sharpie is dry, apply another layer of decoupage & let dry. Now you’ve got a beautiful thing to smile about in 2011. Put it on your desk, in your closet, on your mirror, or your wall & live your motto!
Here's the semi-finished product:

And here's the saying I actually will put on it. I love (no pun intended) how the word love is up to interpretation. Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Guess it's up to the reader.


Letter Writing Week: A Challenge to You.

Today (January 8, 2011) begins National Letter Writing Week. If you’re anything like me, you love snail mail. My boyfriend and I thrived off of letters while courting each other. As the years have accumulated our letter writing has decreased, so we vowed to reinitiate this wonderful form of communication at least for this week. We will write each other one letter a day for one week.
You should try this too. Maybe you don’t want to write seven letters to one person, but rather seven letters to seven different people. Need ideas? Have any friends you’d like to reconnect with in a more personal way? Try writing them a letter. Got any grandparents? They love letters! Parents, significant others, someone across the world, your neighbor, your postal worker, etc.
I hope that after a week of putting ink to paper, you come to appreciate the delicate art of letter writing. After this week is over, I’ll let you know how it went. Why not let me know how it went for you too. If you’re reading this and it’s not January 8-14, try it anyway. Any day is a good day to write a letter. It’s an easy commitment, just seven days.
My favorite letter writing style is stream of consciousness. Just go with the flow, literally. Enjoy!



2011 Goals
Allow yourself a few mistakes. Bake more. be a better Catholic. Drink tea. Embrace messy hair. Forgive & forget like Jesus. Give the gift of time. be Honest (with yourself & others). Include everyone. Joke around. Kick up the dust & run. Love as deep as the ocean. Make mundane tasks magical. Never pass up the opportunity to go through a revolving door. be Open-minded. be Present. Enjoy Quietness. take Risks. Stand up straighter. take control of your Temper. be more Understanding. make yourself Vulnerable. Write more letters. eXamine your life often. you are Young & wild & free. be your Zany self.


Ribbon to headband

For my first few entries, I thought I’d copy Real Simple’s brilliant idea of using what you’ve got to make something useful/wonderful. Start off the new year with a new project & a green heart.

Ann Taylor LOFT had fabulous ribbons on their bags this holiday season. I did a lot of shopping there and couldn’t bear to see these lovelies thrown away. I decided to make something with them. Have any old ribbons you’ve been saving but don’t know what to do with? Try this.

Grab a thick ribbon & a sewing machine for the world’s easiest headband. (Mine was about 30 inches long by 2 inches wide).

Iron the ribbon flat getting out the kinks.

Fold the ribbon in half and iron. Pin down the length of the ribbon & sew. Since this ribbon has a variety of hues I used a plain stitch but if you had a plain ribbon it might be cute with a zig-zag or more decorative stitch.

Ta-da. The two minute headband/retro ribbon.