Monday, November 28, 2011

This week...

This week, I'm on a little trip visiting family and friends! I won't be posting much, but I will be back full force next week with some tutorials and lots of fun pictures!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving: Think it Through Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's what I've got going...

Every week our Pastor writes an article and sends it to the congregation. It's on all kinds of topics, this week was the history of Thanksgiving. The entire article should be available on our church's website soon, I'll post a link when it's there!

Here is just a small part of it, but I thought it particularly meaningful today. What a heritage we have in this country of Godly leadership! Something to pray for in the years to come.

On November 29, 1623 three years after their [the Pilgrims' ] arrival and two years after the first Thanksgiving, Governor William Bradford made an official proclamation of a day of thanksgiving.

“To all Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes and garden vegetable and has made the forest abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the meeting house on the hill between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime on Thursday, November 29 in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, in the third year since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock there to listen to the pastor and render thanksgiving to Almighty God for all His blessings. William Bradford, Governor of the Colony”

On October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued a formal proclamation, passed by an Act of Congress, initiating the first annual National Day of Thanksgiving. Part of what Lincoln said is as follows: “We give thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens….it is announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord….It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ho, ho, holiday cheer!!

It is Santa's Workshop around here right now! This is the first year I've ever had to travel over the holidays and losing that extra week or two (a whole week without my sewing machine just after Thanksgiving then a bunch of extra days before Christmas) definately shortens Ms. Santa's Christmas prep time.

I dont' know about you but if I wait until the last minute to do my shopping, it is a free-for-all and I spend waaaayy more than I intended to and more than I would have if I had been organized and done one thing per person/couple and shopped sales.

I also really love to make gifts, but I never know how people are going to feel about handmade gifts. Are they honored or do they feel like "geez, another homemade gift?" Do they ever think people only make handmade gifts as a sort of indirect boast? So much to consider!! I personally love them! I guess I have to figure it out on a case by case basis and just do what I can!

Here is a little Christmas treat I've been working on for my nephew. He requested a Santa suit in a size 5, by Thanksgiving. I'm just kidding about the time deadline, but he did, very sweetly through his Mama, request a Santa outfit in a size 5. Luckily, I had a great pajama pattern that I had just picked up at the Hancock's 99 c pattern sale. (I'll do a separate post on that and give you a little pattern review). It has basic, elastic waist pants and a button down top with a collar. I cut out all the pieces except the collar (the shirt had a self-facing in the front and a little separate facing piece for the back of the neck.). I made this out of a soft, knit (it feels just like sweat suit) because I wanted it to be comfortable and warm and durable. The fur is plush felt. Have you guys discovered this stuff?! It feels so good and soft, but it's synthetic felt and it's $4.99 a yard regularly priced! It doesn't fray and it has lots of body, perfect for costumes. I used it on the cuffs and the peter pan collar. The belt is just black felt with a set of d-rings. I chose 7/8" black/brown buttons for the front.

Pretty quick and easy, although I did break two 90 gauge needles sewing through the many layers of knit and felt and I took the collar off like 3 times because I wasn't happy with the way it closed in the front. I'm one of those sewists who just can't let something go--even if it's only a costume!

These pants are so simple, just two pattern pieces. I stitched down the middle of the elastic casing after I ran the elastic through to keep the elastic from flipping over.

I put a little twill tape loop in the back of the pants to help my nephew figure out which is which.

Yay for the holiday season! Christmas is coming!!

Anyone else watched White Christmas yet?


Oh, yeah, me neither...

Monday, November 21, 2011

The weekend!

Oh my! We had a wonderful weekend! My in-laws came to visit and we always have fun.

W and I spent some time poring over the tour guide to find some new restaurants and interesting things to do (besides the general fun and hanging out that we always do).

Saturday morning was begun with a pot or three of coffee at home (Starbucks Costa Rica Tarrazu!! finally carried at Winn Dixie). Then we hit the road and drove across town to Faubourg Marigny/ Bywater area to a little diner called Elizabeth's Cafe, a locally owned place in an old house.

I have only two words for you: Praline Bacon.

I didn't take a picture, but it was amazing! Crispy, salty bacon drowned in ground pecans and brown sugar syrup. In the words of Uncle Jessie, "Have Mercy!!"

I ordered the "Elizabeth" which was two perfectly toasted slices of french bread topped with bacon, a beautiful poached egg and some incredible hollandaise sauce with a side of cheese grits. I also need to mention the Irish Coffee with Bailey' new fave brunch beverage! Ashley, Brittany and Sarah, we are going there when you visit!

We had a relaxing afternoon, several naps, then took a nice walk around Audubon Park  with P on his tricycle. After that we went for an early dinner to Jacques-Imo's Cafe. I know I sound like a broken record, but it was absolutely to die for. When you walk in the front door you're in a bar--the entire ceiling is crowded with framed paintings, it looks so cool! Then the hostess gets your info and leads you THROUGH THE KITCHEN. Literally, you walk through the kitchen where they're cooking up the food you're about to eat, into the dining room. Lots of small tables, close together, dim atmostphere, the walls are painted with murals. The one in our room was a forest, and the tree limbs continued up the wall and onto the ceiling. I ordered Salmon with black beans and ginger cream sauce. It sounds like an odd combo, but I promise it was the best thing I have eaten since I've lived in New Orleans. I can't wait to go back! We had P with us and it was the perfect noise level and relaxed atmosphere so that he didn't bother anyone else. I can't wait to go again!

This little guy can't talk yet but he can still run the show. He just points his little finger and we all run to see what he's pointing at. Here it was a lake and lots of interesting ducks.

It was a wonderful weekend with family, we are so fortunate!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fabric Envelopes

I love getting packages in the mail! Especially if it's something fun from a friend, or a care package when I was in college. When I decided to sell baby clothes on Etsy I wanted the packaging to be really unique. Here's what I do...

I stitch up a really simple muslin envelope. When you open the top flap, you see the goodies you ordered peeking out. There's a tag with information on caring for the garment, the size and all that fun stuff. I'd be pretty excited if I opened up a boring mailing envelope and found this inside! Especially because it's a size 2 and that's what Baby P wears!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Think it Through Thursday

A few months ago, P and I went on a long road trip with my sister-in-law and her sweet children. We spent eleven hours in a mini-van with a one year old, a four year old and a five month old. It actually was not half as hectic as I had expected, it always seems that way after the fact. One of the things that kept the two older kids entertained was a CD of Veggie Tales singing familiar praise songs on repeat. Now, while the vocal quality was perhaps not ideal (squeaky broccoli and asparagus children must not have access to voice lessons) my nephew loved this recording. He knew all the words to every song and sang them at the top of his lungs. His favorite was, “I Can Only Imagine.”  I’ve heard this song many times, but those words have never affected me the way that they did when sung by this child with his clear, soprano, boy voice. Every time the chorus came around, he raised his chin and almost shouted with excitement and abandon:

“Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing, hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine!”

It wasn’t long before I had tears rolling down my cheeks.  I was not only touched to hear a four year old singing about the Savior, but his absolute delight was such a picture of what my hope of heaven should be. (I was sitting in the backseat crying while my sister-in-law gave me questioning looks in the rearview mirror...)

In a recent sermon, my pastor said “Heaven should be more real to us than the air we breathe.” Too often, Heaven seems like a distant dream or safety net or something that stands between me and anxiety for my life or the lives of friends and family. The thought of Heaven can be comforting if we have lost someone dear to us, but Heaven cannot be just comfort in a world that is full of sin and pain. It’s not just a place we will go to escape death or to be reunited with loved ones who have gone before—as true as those things are, they pale in comparison with what we have been promised.

In Heaven, we will stand in the presence of the Father and the Son. We will be glorified, not even a shadow of our old desire to sin will remain. We will worship with abandon and rejoice in the majesty and power of God and His amazing work of Salvation.  This is what we should long for with every fiber of our beings! This is what we should be thankful for with every breath!

Thanksgiving is coming up next week.  Many families have traditions that involve each person listing something that they are thankful for. We have lots of blessings to name, all for which we should be truly thankful--God’s good gifts like family, friends, church families, health, jobs, this country, and a place to live. But, even if we had none of these things, we would still have cause for real thanksgiving. As children of God, no matter what the circumstances, we have the hope of Heaven. We should throw our arms up, tilt our heads back, dance and shout with joy because we know that we will one day stand in the presence of God. This Thanksgiving, enjoy family and good food and good wine, remembering that as good as these things are, they are mere crumbs of the feast that we will enjoy eternally in Heaven with our Lord and Savior. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Version of Faux Gyros

A few months ago, I saw a post on the Tasty Kitchen blog with a recipe for faking your own gyro sandwiches. This is my version, and it's definitely one of my "go-to" 20 minute dinner recipes!

Sorry these pics are oddly colored, I was cooking dinner and it gets dark so early now!

Ingredients: (serves 2 people and a toddler)
3 thick slices of deli roast beef, just under a pound
pita pockets
romaine lettuce
fresh diced tomatoes (there were no good ones at the grocery so I just left it out this time)
feta (optional)
1/2 of a diced cucumber
3 T. diced onion
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
lemon juice
1T. dill (fresh or dried, I buy those tubes of fresh herbs! Such a cheap substitute!)
cooking oil
onion powder
garlic powder
chili powder

Start by making the tzatziki sauce. Combine yogurt, dill, a couple of T of lemon juice, and the diced onion in a food processor or blender (I use an immersion blender). Remove from blender and add the diced cucumbers. Salt to taste. Set aside the tzatziki so it can get even more delicious and get started on the gyro meat.

Take the deli roast beef and cut into slices. (this is just enough for one, my hubby was busy at work!)

Heat a little cooking oil (only about a tsp) in a non stick skillet. Add the roast beef.

Add to the beef a dash of lemon juice
1/2 tsp each of cumin and paprika
1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and oregano 
1/8 tsp coriander
black pepper to taste  (wait until it's done before you salt, sometimes deli meat is very salty)

Cook on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring often until the meat "gets a little color on it" and has a bit of crispness to it. (without being burned)

Toast the pita bread, spread pitas with a little tzatziki, add the meat, lettuce, tomato, feta and drizzle with more tzatziki. Yummy, yum, yum!!

I added some crispy, waffle fries! Baby P liked it too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spankin' New Overalls

                       Here's my newest listing on Etsy! This is a pattern I drew out myself, I made a couple of pairs for P first and have really liked them (and liked the fit). Now, I think they're ready to go home with some other lucky, little kids!

This is the first pair, I love them! The winter here is so warm that we don't need full length corduroy every day. I'm kind of in love with knee patches lately too!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've been playing around with applique a lot lately. Experimenting with new techniques, trying to figure out the best stitch length and density, best iron on interfacing, using fusible fleece, mixing fabrics and combining applique with hand embroidery.

I like the way that applique can elevate a simple t-shirt, blanket, stuffed animal, or pair of overalls to something really special.

Knee pad patches, I'm in love with these for fall and winter! I backed them with fusible fleece.

Here are a couple of things that I've found:

1) Simple shapes are the best. Lines, gradual curves (tiny circles can be on the tricky side)...Simple also tends to come out cleaner and more modern looking. It's amazingly easy to make your own designs and templates. There are great ideas out there on the web and you can adapt them to your own taste. Keep a disappearing marker handy so you can sketch then look at your proportions and adjust!

2) To "apply appliques," I use a zig-zag stitch (I have a Pfaff Expression 2.0) set on about 2.8 stitch length and 0.8 or 1.0 stitch density (0.8 if I'm using a fabric that frays really easily like seersucker or on clothing that will be washed and dried very often , 1.0 is fine for less fussy fabrics or purely decorative items. I have also found that turning my thread tension down to around 3 really helps avoid wrinkles. I'm sure this varies from machine to machine. I have also seen other sewists suggest turning down your presser foot pressure, I haven't done this but it makes a lot of sense. Just depends on the machine, practice on some scrap fabric first!

3) Use fusible interfacing to back each piece of your applique. I generally use a medium weight. This not only keeps your fabric from fraying as you stitch, but helps it to survive the long haul or the laundry! Sometimes I use a fabric gluestick to secure my applique to the background fabric before I start stitching, it's completely water soluble but really helps keep things in place!

4) It's really important that the background fabric does not stretch as you stitch on your applique and maneuver around any curves. Definitely use a stabilizer (either tear away--although be careful using this on things like corduroy because the fibers can stick to it and pull through the fabric...I have done this...ugh...) or a medium to heavy weight fusible interfacing--I usually snip off the excess after I'm done so the garment doesn't feel too stiff.  I find that as I'm maneuvering the layers of fabric through my machine, it's best if I keep my hands flat on top of the applique and be sure that I can always feel that piece of stabilizer behind my background fabric, never tugging just guiding and letting the feed dog do its work! This is especially important on fabrics like jersey.

This square is backed with fusible fleece instead of interfacing. It gave the applique some dimension after I "quilted" the squares in the middle. I used a 1.0 stitch density on this one, but I probably should have done 0.8 so that those stray threads didn't find their way through.

The tee below is done with a 0.8 stitch density, I'm happier with the results.

Just a couple more examples:

I'm loving the woodland animals these days. I'll have a tutorial coming up using these appliqued squares, but I can't tell you what they are yet!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Think it Through Thursday: Reactions

Do you remember being in school and learning: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction?" I do, and I think that I've applied it to all of life since that day.

Just kidding, sort of.

I think a lot of us, myself included, have the tendency to feel entitled. We are entitled to this-or-that kind of service in a restaurant, common courtesy from strangers, not having to wait in long lines at the fabric store (Grrr, Joann's, get it together!), free healthcare (don't get me started), or for whatever we think is "fair." If I feel that I've been slighted or haven't gotten my due, I can react with an "equal and opposite reaction" and competely justify it in my mind.

I act grouchy and cold to the lady at Joann's because she was on the phone to a friend and the line was kept waiting half the day. My husband accidentally steps on my foot, I respond angrily.

The problem is that I'm not entitled to any of these things. As people of God, we are commanded to humbly consider others better than ourselves and "look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4), but nothing in me is deserving of special treatment and I shouldn't try to demand it from anyone else. In fact, I'm supposed to be a servant. To give up my place in line to an elderly person (even though I'm trying to placate a fussy toddler who is eating the stickers off of my spools of thread), to respond sweetly to my husband when he swings the baby around and P's huge head knocks me in the eyebrow (I had a very large bruise for a very long time), to smile at the person giving me the evil eye for taking pictures in a restaurant.

In short, I need to NOT have "an equal and opposite reaction." Thank God that He decided to extend grace to me even as I betray and hurt the Savior with my sin countless times every day, He went to the cross for me. Rather than the death that I deserve, Christ took my judgment upon Himself. He "made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. [...] He humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:7-8)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I haven't posted in a couple of days because I have been so busy! Two of my very dearest, old friends flew down to New Orleans to visit me. We have been friends for 12 years, I am so blessed to have them! We had a great time, and packed in the activities. We walked around the French Quarter, toured a plantation, ate some lovely food and did lots of talking.

Here we are having a great breakfast and celebrating S's birthday!

Lake Pontchartrain! Gorgeous.

Here we are by one of the Pontalba buildings, you can see that C is sporting an adorable baby bump!

Mardi Gras masks in the French Market. Look how C and S are smiling mysterious little smiles, but I didn't ge tthe memo.

We had a really nice dinner at one of Emeril's restaurants. "Tiny portions, weird sauces." That's a quote from Gilmore Girls, but it doesn't really apply here. I just wanted to say it. The food was really interesting and the sauces were decadent and delicious. My favorite thing of the night was an "Escargot and Yukon Gold Fondue." It was served with slices of toasted French Bread and you scooped up the escargot and the amazing creamy sauce with them.

After Emeril's we took a little trip to Pat O'Brien's for....

A Hurricane for S.


S and I were smooched on the cheek by some passing, middle aged inebriated ladies, who also gave us the beads.  

Then S had her fortune told. She is apparently going to fall in love soon...she's been married for 5 years.

We started off the next day with fantastic crispy, sugary beignets at Cafe du Monde.

Then it was off to the plantations. Here C and S are posing for senior portraits.

We put the camera on some roots and I ran to get in the picture.

Yes, me and C posing in a Civil War tent. I'm trying to look menacing but I just look suspicious.

Gorgeous! The trees are so much more impressive than you can convey on camera.

So fun, it was over too soon!