Giveaway from Sew Fantastic

I just got a goodie in the mail that I ordered and I am so excited about it. I had seen the Sew Fantastic blog with so many fun things awhile back when Sew Mama Sew had their giveway. I fell in love with her carryall clutch and was waiting for the chance to order one. Well, I finally did and I am already feeling more organized.

AND, when I went to her blog to thank her for it I found that she is hosting an amazingly generous giveaway to celebrate 1000 sales on Etsy. What an accomplishment! And, as someone who would love to have my own Etsy shoppe one day I really am in amazement at her success!

So, stop by HERE to enter the giveway...and if you don't win you should consider ordering one of her carryall clutches from her Etsy shoppe HERE to get yourself organized. Afterall, it's a new school year and that calls for new modes of organization.

* one note: I asked and the $50 bill does not come with the clutch.


My new favorite fridge calendar (and it should be yours, too).

I was looking for a template for gift enclosures to make for Little E to use on birthday presents, since cards are expensive and often annoy me. Well, no luck (so if you have any you know of let me know), but I did find this great blog (that is now in my favorites) with this awesome calendar. It's already at home on my fridge with dates filled in until next spring. Thanks Cottage Industrialist!

Click HERE for the calendar post on her blog.


Count me in.

I'm ready to join the pajama party, are you? Sew Mama Sew is hosting a pajama making party as their virtual project for the month of September. I have had a 4 different fabrics set aside to make new PJ's for my boys for a couple of months now and this is just the push I have needed to get it done. As you might remember I wanted to do a make-your-own-PJ-pattern tutorial awhile back but have procrastinated as the pile of fabric to made into PJ's has grown right along with it. SO, here's to a PJ party in the making!
If you are interested HERE is the link for the sew-along.

Headband Tutorial

I've been making these headbands a lot lately, as they are addictive to make once you get started. Part of the appeal is that you can't have too many headbands, and also it literally takes scraps of fabric to make them. I had been using the wonderful free pattern found HERE on Heather Bailey's blog, but decided to remake a pattern that would work better for me, as I don't always like the flair of the tie sticking out of my hair in the back. I know this is a very basic pattern and you can probably find a zillion free versions somewhere online, but I thought it would be a great chance to spread my wings and try my hand at a tutorial. Please do extend me a little grace for not being as clear as I could have been with the instructions, AND I know the pictures are a little blurry, too. I am very open to comments, espcially from those that have experience with tutorials. So, here we go:

Step #1::

You will need a rectangle of fabric measuring 17"x4" and one measuring 12"x2". You will also need a piece of 1/2" wide elastic measuring 6". These measurements should fit the average women's head. Play around with the measurements and you could make one for a child or adjust to fit a smaller or larger head.
Step #2::

Fold and pin larger rectangle on the long side with wrong sides of fabric together and sew a 3/8" seam (which should be the outer edge of your presser foot). Make sure to reinforce the beginning and ends of your seams.

Step #3::

Repeat step #2 for smaller rectangle.

Step #4::

Attach a safety pin to the opening of one of the sides of your tube and wiggle it through to turn the tube inside out.

Step #5::

Repeat step #4 for other rectangle.

Step #6::

Iron both tubes flat with the seam in the middle of the back side of the tube. Fold in ends of larger tube only and iron flat.

Step #7::
Take your elastic piece and anchor one side with a safety pin to one of the open ends of the smaller tube. Attach another safety pin to the other side of elastic and wiggle through the tube.

Step #8::
Unattach safety pins and anchor the elastic onto both sides of tube with a few alternating forward and reverse stitches. Don't worry if it's messy, as this seam will be tucked into the larger tube and won't show.

Step #9::
Your tube with anchored elastic should now look like this:

Step #10::
Stick one end of the smaller elastic tube inside a folded end of the larger tube making sure that the seams of both tubes are on the same side.

Step #11::
With your fingers tuck in the ends of the larger tube on each side so they are the same width as the smaller tube. In preparation for sewing you might want to anchor with a pin or hold together with your fingers as you move over to the sewing machine. I don't use a lot of pins, so I find holding it together and laying my presser foot on it does the trick.

Step #12::
Carefully (this seam will show) sew together to anchor smaller elastic tube with larger tube tucked around it using forward and reverse seams. Tie off and trim thread to finish.
Step #13::
Repeat step #12 for other side, making sure you don't get the headband twisted.

Voile! You are done. Here's what a few of my finished products look like:


Update on things creative

I'm still here (for the three people that check this blog out). Between daily electricity blackouts and a cranky child who thinks every time I get on the computer it's his chance to watch Thomas the Tank Engine videos on You Tube I have hardly had the time or energy to update.

Little E and I just whipped up another batch of the Oatmeal Cookies I shared in my last post. We actually omitted the white sugar and just added the brown sugar to cut back on the amount of sugar and they worked great. Not as sweet, but still great. Now, I can certainly feed them to him for breakfast without feeling guilty, right?

I have been crafting a little lately, mostly utilitarian projects like making Little E's long PJ's into shorts (did I mention it's hot as blazes here). We went to my all-time favorite beach with Big E's family two weeks ago and I made headbands for each of the Tia's and Prima's on the trip. Didn't get a chance to take a picture of all of us together and was too rushed trying to get out the door with all of our things beforehand to take a picture.

The big project I have been working on is THIS felt barn with animals. My friend Mandie came up with idea to make the farm for our boys and I just kind of went along for the ride because she wanted to make it. Well, it's been a fun and challenging project for me, because it's a lot of hand sewing and there are so many little pieces. I think I will probably work on it a little here and there and save it for a Christmas present for Little E. I am also making THIS doll for a friend of mine who is having her baby today! I am still sewing on the mouth and need to make the dress, but it should be ready to pass along to new baby Daniela by the time I visit her.
I am still LOVING my time with the women of Cercadillo on Fridays. We are taking a break from sewing for right now as the director is out of town. I have had a couple of requests from relatives and friends to buy or sell the bags the women are making. They would make a great Christmas present if anyone is thinking about it. Each bag comes with a tag that includes the name of the lady who made it. They are selling for $20 and all of the proceeds go back to the women of Cercadillo.

Here is a picture of the bag I actually purchased myself:


Kid-Friendly Cookies

I made some pretty yummy cookies yesterday. One of Little E's first words was "coco" which is his version of cookie. We buy these cracker cookies here called Marias that are a Latino staple and because they are like a sweet cracker I didn't feel so bad giving them to him. But the other day I was thinking about the nice hint of coconut I tasted, thinking to myself that of course they taste like coconut because I am in the Caribbean. THEN, it dawned on me that they taste like coconut because they are most likely made with coconut oil, the death oil! So, I decided to make cookies from now on (well, mostly from now on), so I can control what kind of oil and stuff we are putting in our mouths. Now, I LOVE to make cookies (thanks to my college friend Julie who I made thousands of dozens of cookies with back then), but they always spread out too much in the oven down here with all of the humidity. So, the other day I broke down and bought the $4.50 chocolate chips, rolled up my sleeves, put on my thinking cap and apron and adapted a recipe so that the cookies would keep their shape and I wouldn't be forced to substitute Crisco, the other death oil. AND, they worked out and are worth sharing. Of course, because they have natural sugar, oatmeal and raisins I feel like they are "healthy". Actually, Little E is munching on a few for breakfast right now...yikes, don't tell that his mama is letting him eat cookies for breakfast!

OATMEAL COOKIES (my own recipe adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

1 cup flour
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/8 cup sugar (I used raw sugar called "Azucar Crema" here)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup of any mix-ins you want (I used 1/4 cup each of raisins and chocolate chips, but you could use nuts or other dried fruits)

Sift together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Set aside. Cream butter & sugars together in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add to butter mixture egg & vanilla and blend. Add in flour mixture a little at a time to give time to incorporate. Then, add in your mix-ins & oatmeal.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes. This recipe will yield about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

ALSO, since I am in a cookie state of mind (as I usually am with my sweet tooth), here is another somewhat healthy kid-friendly cookie recipe I made the other day. I say kid-friendly because it has molasses in it, which is loaded with iron and has immune boosting properties. Of course, that is if you take it by the tablespoonful. It probably loses some of those properties when you mix it with butter and sugar, but oh well. They remind me of the ginger snaps I had when I was a kid at my Grosmama's house (paternal German grandmother).

GINGER SNAPS (from the Joy of Cooking)

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest (I used lime zest)
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Sift together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, & cloves. Set aside. Cream together butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, molasses, zest & lemon juice and blend. Add dry ingredients a little at a time to fully incorporate.

Form dough into tablespoonful balls and arrange on a greased cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. You can sprinkle each ball with a bit of raw sugar if you would like a little extra sweet touch. Balls will flatten in the oven. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. This recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies.

NOTE: Both of these recipes are adapted from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. If you are looking for a classic, informative, basic, never-fail cookbook this is the one you should buy. I have the 75th Anniversary edition. This is the cookbook that has truly taught me how to adapt my own recipes and has never once failed me!

This is a bonus picture of Little E with a mouthful of those yummy cookies I let him eat for breakfast.


Visiting Cercadillo

My heart is singing today because I just got back from Cercadillo. I have been going out for the past couple of weeks to help the women of the village sew. What a beautiful ministry my friend Ina has with these women. They live in a campo outside of town with no electricity and only water accessible by a well put in by the ministry. The campo consists of very simple colorful wooden houses bleached by the sun that are scattered all along the dirt road and a colmado that does triple duty as the grocery store, hardware store and beauty salon. The bumpy dirt road is lined with people walking on foot as there are very few cars, if any at all. Moms carrying water buckets on their heads from the well, kids running barefoot with sticks chasing our jeep, a group of althetic boys jogging toward the baseball field wearing their hopes for being scouted by the American leagues with every flex of their muscles.

When we drove up to the ministry site today the Bible study was already in full swing, women sitting on green benches and yellow plastic chairs listening intently. A few children were running around from one mama to antother, dirty shirts and shoeless feet smiles a mile wide. The open air pavillion we meet under is painted bright yellow and turquoise with a concrete floor.

After the prayer time ends it's time to get busy and set up the sewing machines and work tables. Eight sewing machines are set up and plugged into the bright red Honda generator that soon hums to life. Everyone retrieves the projects leftover from the past week out of the big blue plastic bin and starts to get to work. Some are cutting out patterns, some are pinning their seams together and some are at the sewing machines. Patterns become bags before our eyes as these women use their new talents to create something they can sell. The money they earn from selling their bags will feed their families.

It's a beautiful thing to see these women learning a new skill that brings them a sense of confidence they can use this to change their future. Some sew with relative ease, while others struggle with the simple things like sewing a straight seam, but all are diligent and eager to do their work. The finished bags made from a pattern I helped create lie in a neat pile with colorful tags attached bearing the name of the person who made them. What a gift it is to help them for a few hours, using the basic sewing skills my grandmothers taught me, helping Yaquelin tear out a bad seam and then helping Dona Carmen (a sweet grandmotherly woman with weathered hands and cataracts) finish her bag on the sewing machine. I've learned new words to help them along...hilo (thread), tejiras (scissors), agujas (needles).

Today I walked away with a new bag sewn by Marleni and a necklace made by Yaquelin, everytime I use them I will think of their faces. But, as tired and sweaty I was returning to my home I wore a smile for the rest of the day because I knew my time spent there nourished my soul. Lending a few hours and a hand once a week is a small sacrifice, and yet I am doing something that is making an immediate difference in their lives. It's hard to say who is more blessed...me or those lovely ladies of Cercadillo.

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