PJ bottoms

Well, scratch PJ bottoms off the my growing list of projects to complete. My pictures leave something lacking, for sure. I wasn't feeling creative, nor was the lighting good, but I wanted to post the finished project. I am going to try my hand at a real tutorial soon and post how I made these. They are so easy and after searching the internet for a free pattern I took two tutorials, pieced together the instructions and made my own pattern. Once you have the pattern you can make them in about 30 minutes, even with trim. I made three out of really soft, cottony men's shirt fabric I found at my favorite Dominican fabric store. And, then just for pure fun I made a girly pair for my 18-month old niece. Big E liked them so much he wants a matching pair for himself. I am waiting for my Mother's Day copy of Weekend Sewing to make down here in the mail before I tackle that one.
And, just for kicks I am sharing this ridiculously, hilarious picture of Little E sporting his new jammies. Big E thought it would be funny to pull them up to his armpits, like an old man. He didn't seem to mind...

On another note, I made some yummy muffins the other day I am going to share the recipe when I have time. And, did I mention we don't have lemons down here, just limes? Who would have expected the Caribbean to be void of a such a common citrus fruit staple? Well, I have been making limonada or limeade lately to satisfy my craving for lemonade. YUM...and I REALLY wanted to make a margarita the other night, but the colmado doesn't carry tequila, so we couldn't get it delivered (although they said they could get me some...haha only in the Dominican Republic...and I was too lazy to go buy some. Definately on my list.


Summer Sanity-Savers

OK...anyone with kids has absolutely got to look at THIS BLOGPOST immediately. It's from one of my favorite blogs The Long Thread. There are so many ideas for crafts and activities to do with kids of all ages. I am already making a mental list of the things we are going to do....

homemade bubbles

painted picture rocks

vacation memory jar


Oh, the fun we are going to have on those stir crazy days!


New Bag!

I made a fabulous new bag to carry around. I found the tutorial HERE from "My Spare Time" awhile back and had been looking for just the right fabric to make my new bag. I finally found just the right fabric at my favorite store. It was so easy to make! I mean it. Her directions were great. Thanks for the tutorial!

On my list of things in process are:

- headbands for a friend and a new baby from HERE

- PJ bottoms for Little E and my niece from my own pattern

- more fabric boxes from HERE (I am going to download her customizable pattern)

- new dress from a de-constructed dress pattern of my favorite beach/pool dress ever (it's stretchy cotton t-shirt material and I'm a little scared to start because it's new territory for me)

AND, I am slowly collecting old dress shirts from my Big E to make THIS for Little E. It's pretty sad that I am almost happy when he comes home with a dry erase marker stain on his shirt from a teaching mishap.


Fabric Box

Well, here's a little something I made this morning that I am super excited about. My mind is swirling with every little thing in my house that needs to be contained by these super cute fabric boxes. There are little trains and matchbox cars that need a new home on the toy shelf, a very unorganized and quite unsightly desk where I am currently sitting, all of my sewing supplies that are stuffed into a box way too small to stay organized, etc.
I found this little goody on the Sometimes Crafter blog. She has very clear and easy directions for the tutorial, and this box literally took a large scrap of two kinds of fabric, plus some stablizer inbetween to make. I need to work on one of the sides with the iron to get it to hold it's boxy shape a little better, but naptime is over and I am working on stolen moments even getting this post up. You know how it goes. She also sells a PDF pattern that shows how to customize the pattern for whatever size box you want. After making this little one I am definately going to buy the downloadable pattern so I can make more in all different sizes.
Just a little side note. You might notice two things about the picture. 1. Little E was pushing his trains around the table at just the right moment to look up and smile for the camera, a new talent of his which I hope is going to make taking pictures of him a lot easier, since most have him sucking his thumb. 2. My new little fabric box is sitting on top of 1/2 of my Mother's Day present...a quilting board with this awesome acrylic grid ruler and rotary cutter. This has made measuring and cutting a breeze. What in the world I did without it, I do not know. The other half of my gift is on it's way and I can't wait to pick it up from the mail service!

A Twist on Black Beans and Rice

I am much more of a cook than I am a sewer. I love to do both, but I am more confident in the kitchen than I am behind my sewing machine. I have been reading about all of these great summer recipes using in season fruit. Living in the Caribbean it's summer all the time, but there are so many good summer fruits we miss out on...peaches, strawberries (although we do get some in the winter months, nectarines, plums, blueberries, etc.) How I would love a fresh peach cobbler on my table tonight for dinner, but alas there are no peaches to be found here unless you buy them from the canned fruit aisle (which under desperate measures I have been known to do to get my cobbler fix). SO, I thought I would offer a tropical summer spin on an old favorite in our house.

I usually use a fabulous recipe for black beans and rice from my friend Kristi. Today I took it for a little spin around the local block and added pineapple. I would have sided it with a good ripe avocado, but they are a little hard to find around here right now.

Here's the adapted version I created for our lunch:

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup pineapple, cut-up into bite sized chunks
juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine water, brown rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and put lid on pan. Simmer for 40 minutes. Then, add can of black beans and return lid to simmer for another 10 minutes. Mix in tomato, red onion, parsley, pineapple, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. That's it!

We served it with grilled chicken. But, it's pretty good by itself or could be good with fish, as well.

The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup grated cheese, which gives it a creamy, cheesy texture and goes so well with the onion and other flavors. Here are some other ingredients you could add that would taste yummy:
lemon juice instead of lime juice
chopped mango
green onion instead of red onion
and, of course the avocado


Feeling Skirty

I am "feeling skirty" most days. I live in a tropical environment and most days I am trying to stay as comfortable and cool as possible. Shorts can sometimes be...less than flattering...although I am liking bermudas these days and have already made one pair of white cropped pants into bermudas. BUT, skirts are always comfy, most always flattering (if you find the right style that works for you), can be dressed up or down, and always fun! Oh, and they are so easy to make, too!

This is my latest:
I found this fabulous fabric at our local fabric warehouse. So many fun fabrics, so cheap...so many ideas in my head...oh mercy. Well, here is a close up of the fabric.

Now, let me tell you a little story about this skirt. I cut a pattern from my all-time favorite A-line-Gap-sale-rack-skirt. I have made it three times already and will most definately make more in the future. All I did was fold the skirt in half and lay it on a big piece of paper. I traced around the skirt leaving a little bit all around to accomodate the seams and hem. I marked where the fold would be (since you actually have a quarter of the skirt that you are tracing). I then cut out two of the pattern in my fabric, making sure to be aware of alignment with the design of the fabric and to lay it on the fold. (If your fabric is a lighter weight you will want to make the same exact skirt pattern in a lightweight lining fabric-see note below). For this skirt I made it a couple of inches longer than the original skirt.

If your skirt has a zipper and you are not making a lining you will want to cut a yoke out of the same fabric for the waistline. I have found the best way to do this is to cut a 6-inch long version of the skirt. You just follow the curve of the waistband and only make it 6-inches long (this is kind of hard to explain, but you want to have a little more fabric weight at the waistband so that it lays flat). Yours might have elastic which doesn't require a yoke. Also, a skirt with a lining doesn't require a yoke either.

The rest of my directions are for a skirt that includes a zipper.

Ok, so you zig-zap stitch or hem the bottom of your yoke, pin it to your waistband right sides together (RST) and stitch. Press the seam open with an iron, turn right side out and press the seam so it lays flat.
Next, you need to mark how long your zipper is and sew up the side of your skirt RST only until that point. Sew up the entire other side of the skirt.

For installing the zipper, I will let you follow the instructions in the package of the zipper or in the instruction manual of your sewing machine. I find that using an invisible zipper is nicer looking and actually easier to sew in.
All you have to do now is try it on and pin your hem length. Turn the bottom under twice and hem.

There you go! So easy! This is my first time to explain something like this, so excuse me if it's not so clear. You can always leave a question in the comments.
Note about lining the skirt: To make a lining, cut two pattern pieces from your lining fabric. Start by sewing your sides together, remembering to leave room for the zipper. Then, pin your lining to the skirt fabric RST at the waistband and sew together. Press the seam open and then turn the lining inside of the skirt and press the waistband flat. You might want to topstitch the waistband to make it lay a little more flat. I don't remember what I did with the skirt I made lining for, but I don't think I did this step. You should have all of the unfinished seams from the skirt and the lining facing each other inside of each other. Next, when you sew in the zipper, you will need to sew it into two layers, both the skirt and the lining. Lastly, you will want to hem the skirt and the lining separately and it helps to hem the lining a bit shorter so it doesn't show at the bottom.


Project Near and Dear to My Heart.

I have been volunteering little bits of time with a ministry I have come to adore here in the Dominican Republic called The Cercadillo Project. My friend Ina (who has the coolest name ever, if you ask me) moved here 3 years ago to devote herself to a small village outside of the capital. Cercadillo has no running water, no electricity, no schools, and really no self-sustaining jobs for the people who live there. In the short amount of time Ina has been there she has been able to coordinate a group to put in a city well and start a program where kids can go to school in the neighboring community. If you want to read more about what Ina does click here.
The project that has captured my heart is her sewing and handcraft ministry she has started with the women. All of the men leave the village in the morning to find work leaving the women behind. Some of the women buy meat scraps from a butcher, carry them in a tub on their heads and sell them to whoever they can find keeping the profits they earn, which as you can imagine is not much. Ina had a dream to start some kind of co-op where the women could sell things they make and have some sustainable income. SO, every Friday morning she and a few volunteers set up at her outdoor community center with donated sewing machines and a generator and they teach the women how to sew and make handcrafts. They have been crocheting necklaces lately that they have been selling to volunteer teams as souvenirs. When one woman in the project received $100 pesos (the equivalent of $3.50) for necklaces that sold she started crying saying she didn't know how she was going to feed her family that night and that day she would be able to. This ministry is changing lives and helping people meet critical needs.
I have developed two patterns for a very simple bucket style bag that can either be made long and worn over the chest or shorter to be worn over the shoulder. Soon the women will be able to sew these bags with donated fabric and make ever more money to take care of their families.
As I was testing out the pattern I made several for two friends who work with other ministries headed back to the United States for the summer months. They eagerly agreed to donate the money they would have used to buy the bags from the women to the ministry instead of paying me for making them. So, 21 bags later I think I have the major kinks worked out of the pattern and I've been able to help out both the women in The Cercadillo Project and my other friends. I never in a million years thought that the sewing skills my grandmothers taught me could be used to give back to others and the Lord.
It's an exciting thing and I hope you take a look at Ina's website to see the short video about Cercadillo.


I'm coming back.

I know I sound like a broken record (which we don't really have in our culture anymore), but now that we are settled into our new life in the Dominican Republic and are finding our own groove I have decided to give some new life to this blog. As my life is growing and expanding each day I am going let this blog follow along. What started out as a blog about making your own baby food is going to grow into much more. I am going to use this blog as an outlet for all of my "from scratch" things from cooking, baking, sewing, crafting, creative play time, and baby and kid food, too. I hope someone will follow along or decide to visit every now and then. SO, here we go...

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