Friday, October 30, 2009

Have you seen my muscles?

This morning I made tags for my reusable grocery totes on Etsy. They are made from unbleached cotton ribbon. I printed the text on iron-on sheets, cut them out and started ironing away. They were turning out great until, suddenly, my ironing board seemed to be sinking to the floor. I finished the one I was working on and backed up to see what happened.

I was pushing so hard on the iron that I actually bent the metal leg (the one that goes from top left to bottom right.) If you compare it to the bottom of the window or floor board, you can see the lovely new angle the top of my ironing board sits at. Not helpful. I am pretty sure I got this ironing board when I first went off to college (for $6), almost 10 years ago, so I guess it has lived its life and served its purpose. I'll put a new one on my list. I think I got the iron at the same time as the board, so hopefully that doesn't quit on me now.

It's easy being green

The new shop is live! I have a few things I'm holding back and a few things that I need to finish up, but for the most part the totes are up! Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One of those days

This morning I looked at the clock when I got up to use the restroom to see how much time I had left to sleep. It was 8:13. I am supposed to be at the office at 8:00. Whoops. Luckily I have a great boss and when I called, he was totally cool. I rushed around to get ready and when I left, it was pouring rain. Boo. I stopped at got coffee at the closest (but my least favorite) place. It's not fit for human consumption, but I drank it anyway. When I finally made it into the office, the whole building smelled like skunk. They think it's in the clean air duct or something like that. So much for clean air. I opened my window in my office and it rained all over some papers. Whoops again. Nothing that important.

Now that that's out of my system, I've decided the rest of the day is going to be better. I am having lunch today with some good friends at one of my favorite lunch spots and I took tomorrow off from the day job. Two good things to look forward to. Tomorrow my mission is to get all the new totes up on Etsy for my new It's Easy Being Green shop. I am very excited. I think I have 20 bags ready to go and 4-6 of those are already sold, so I need to get a few more made this weekend. I'll definately post as soon as it's all live. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's not a bill!

It's always exciting to get things in the mail that aren't bills or junk mail. The latest non-bill/junk I received was fabric. New fabric makes me very happy. I just want to lay it all out at look at it for hours. Dork, I know.

These are all from the Country Fair line and are light weight canvas. The top three are from the porch color scheme and the bottom two are ginger. I like the idea of coordinating fabrics instead of matching for a set of totes. They will all look good on their own and great together. Which is your favorite?

Tonight the World Series starts and, as the Phillies are playing, it will definately be on our television. Baseball is great - at the stadium. Baseball on TV - not so much. Hopefully I can get a few totes made tonight while periodically checking the score instead of watching the whole thing. Go Phillies!

Monday, October 26, 2009

One Lovely Blog

Thanks to Justine from Just Nibbles who gave me this One Lovely Blog award this month. I'm so happy you enjoy reading my blog!

I'm supposed to pass the award along to other bloggers who I enjoy. It's taken me a long time to come up with this list but here it is:
1. Vietti View
2. Olive Bites
3. Maya Made
4. My Kitchen Cafe
5. Aubut Life
6. Buttercuppity
7. Fabric Shopper Online
8. Urban Cheese Craft
9. Cabin and Cub
10. Breaking the Recipe Rut
11. Going Home to Roost
12. Ink and Spindle
13. Pale Pink
14. Little Nanny Goat
15. My Pretty Picks

Many, but not all, of my picks have Etsy shops and are all very creative people who inspire me to express myself through original, handmade items. THANKS to all of them!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Queen of totes

I went to another Halloween party last night. The weather was dreary, but that kind of sets the mood for a creepy costume party. I did get a picture of my entire Queen of Hearts costume before we left and here it is!

What do you think? Here's everything that went into it: I made the crown out of fabric and cardstock. I sewed the jacket from a 99¢ pattern and put in the grommets for the gold rope lacing. (The tank top I already owned.) The skirt is my skirt that I sewed last year for my Mrs. Lovett costume; I added the hearts for this year. The shoes came from the Salvation Army and I painted the gold swirls and black stripes. I had heart earrings I bought off Etsy and my pendant is a 97¢ clearance charm from Michaels. Money spent: about $15.

Today I also made three totes from Premier Prints' Illusions in Sweet Potato. Here's a preview of one:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today is brought to you by the letter P and the number 2

I made two totes last night out of Premier Prints' Illusions in Sweet Potato from I didn't get the trim and handles on so no picture of the actual bags yet. I was planning to hold off until November 1st to list the totes on Etsy, but I think I'm at the end of the Halloween orders due to shipping time constraints and, if I am feeling ambitious, I might try and get what I have done listed this weekend. I'll let you know if I have time so you can check them all out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

For the birds

This might be my favorite tote yet. (Both pictures are the same tote, back and front.) The fabric is heavy-weight canvas from Ikea. I had the same problem with this fabric as I did the orange bird fabric. The print runs the opposite way than most, so if I cut it like I normally do, I'd have a bunch of dead birds, laying on their backs, and that just wouldn't make for a very cute tote!

I have enough of this fabric to make one more bag. I need to figure out the best placement so the cutest part of the print is on the most visable part of the tote. I didn't have enough brain power last night to figure that out twice and make the second tote.

I also came up with a great idea for a stocking stuffer for people who sew: thread, in every color imaginable. I am only 5 or so blocks from our local fabric store. I go there several times a week, usually in the middle of a project because I've run out of thread or don't have a color I thought I did. Having to stop in the middle drives me crazy. But don't buy those tiny spools that come in packs all together; there is never enough thread on those to do anything with. (That's what I was using last night when I ran out and had to go out in the rain to the store to get more. So annoying!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Going green

I've been really busy today and it doesn't look like it's going to let up before bedtime, so today's post is a bit of a cop-out. I made these two bags on Sunday, but haven't posted about them yet! They are medium-weight, grass green canvas with light blue swirls and lime green flowers. I also realized that by laying them flat, it's hard to judge their size and you can't tell they have gussets at all. So here is another photo of one of the bags filled with groceries. Only a week and a half before I start posting these on Etsy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vampire Vino

Justine at Just Nibbles did a little write up on my Halloween wine bottle labels available in my Etsy shop. Check it out. For more Halloween fun, read my Halloween related posts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Raw cheesecake

Before you read this post, I need to impress upon you my extreme skepticism for food crazes and diet fads. I have never done Atkins, South Beach or any of the other many programs that restrict you completely from eating certain things.

So when I stumbled upon and was reading recipes, for her "28 Desserts You Can Eat Everyday," I wasn't buying it. Honestly, I'm still not sure, but tonight I made Raw Raspberry Cheesecake. It has no cheese and no cake. Also no sugar or graham crackers, two things I think are rather key in cheesecake. The crust is pecans, dates and salt. The filling is cashews, honey, lemon juice, coconut oil, vanilla and water. I haven't eaten a slice yet, but I tasted the crust and the filling and they are both good. I think it's going to be even better when they are cold and topped with raspberries. If this works out the next recipes I want to try are chocolate mint coconut bars and strawberry shortcake.

Nathalie Lussier is the author of these recipes and she's a raw foodie. The basic idea is that foods lose nutrients when they are cooked above a certain temperature, so eat raw. She is offering her 28 Desserts You Can Eat Everyday book as a free PDF download. I am excited to try a few more.Guilt-free mint chocolate fudge balls? Don't mind if I do.

This photo is from Nathalie's recipe book.

It's the little things

Yesterday I bought this June Tailor Spindle Thread Rack. I know it's silly, but it made me really happy. My thread has been living in a plastic bin, all in a jumble. Now that I am using more colors for my totes, I constantly had to dig through and have bought a color I already have a couple of times now. I have also skipped buying thread thinking I had the right color, only to come home and not have it. Grrr. Now my thread is all color coordinated and on display and I love it. It really is the little things!

Besides shopping, I was pretty productive this weekend. I made four totes on Saturday morning then on Sunday I packed each tote with groceries and took pictures for my Etsy shop. I worked at a grocery store in high school and occasionally someone would end up not buying the groceries after they filled their cart (forgot wallet, credit card declined, etc.). Then you'd have to unpack everything from the sacks and "reverse shop" to put everything back on the shelves. It felt a little like that only 15 times over. Boxes, cans and produce in the bag. Pictures. Boxes, cans and produce out of the bag. Repeat. Over and over again. It's done now, which is a relief. I'm not sure my bag of baby spinach survived though. It was looking a little worse for wear by the end.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Running in circles

I have so much I want to get done this weekend, so when I got up this morning I didn't even know where to start. Instead of doing the things I need to do, I decided to do something I wanted to do first. Along with the blue fabric I talked about in the last post, I also bought Circles Topaz by Premier Prints off Etsy. The bags turned out so good. I decided to do red trim because red is one of my favorite colors. I think that the red does a good job of brightening up the bags. Do you agree or think I should have gone with tan or blue?

I am getting pretty excited as November 1st gets closer and closer. I am ready to launch the line of totes on Etsy. I have two more fabrics at home that I want to get bags made out of before then. Yesterday I found a great sale at and bought 9 more canvas prints (and got free shipping). I don't think I'll have all of those done for the November 1st launch date though.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Feeling blue

I am frantically working on getting enough inventory for the launch of my eco-friendly line for Etsy on November 1st. I am getting quite efficient with the sewing of the bags (cutting my time in half for each bag since I started). I'd say about 80% of the battle is actually finding fabrics with fun and unique prints, in the right weight canvas for a price that is affordable enough to keep the bags low cost for customers. I scour the sales fliers and clearance tables for decorator fabric and have been pretty successful, but haven't found anything recently.

I've been looking online and finding a lot of options, but I was nervous because I am a very tactile person and have never bought fabric I wasn't able to feel first. Early this week I decided to take a chance and ordered three new fabrics from various Etsy stores.  All three arrived yesterday and they are all exactly what I was hoping for. I was so relieved and feel a lot more confident about buying fabric online now.

One of the fabrics I bought is blue. I have had an aversion to blue for as long as I can remember. Why? I don't know. The only guess I have is it's my mom's favorite color. Don't get me wrong; I love my mom, but we don't really have the same style. Growing up, I was always striving to be an individual and figure out what being "me" meant. I already knew someone with blue as a favorite color, so that was out. I'm not sure why the aversion has lasted so long though.

Anyway, enough psychoanalysis. I bought the blue fabric because I know that most of the world's population likes the color blue and the pattern was very appealing to me. The fabric is called Blue Leaflet and its by Michael Miller. I made the first bag from it last night and I LOVE IT. It is a bit larger than all the others I've made and I think it will be great for big boxes of cereal or those long veggies like celery and romaine lettuce that are always trying to jump out of bags.

What do you think?

My goal this weekend (one of many) is to go grocery shopping. First, we desperately need groceries. But I also want to take pictures of all the bags I have finished packed full of groceries. They look so great laying flat, but I need to show that they are fashionable and functional.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween costumes

We had our 10th annual Halloween party on Saturday. Many crockpots of soup, balls of cheese and bottles of wine were consumed and, judging by the disaster of a house we woke up to on Sunday, it would appear everyone had a really good time. It's mostly the same people who attend every year and each year I think the costumes get better. I am probably biased, but I believe we have the most creative group of costume-making friends. This year, the clear standouts (once again) were our friends Cavan and Scott. They were Russell and Carl from the Pixar movie Up.

Here are the characters from the movie.

Cavan & Scott in their costumes.

 Close up of the house with balloons that Scott made out of foam core.

This year was a continuation of their Pixar theme. Last year they were Wall-E and Eve from Wall-E.

Amazingly, out of over 160 photos, we didn't manage to take a single picture of me where you can see my entire costume, so you're going to have wait until after the 24th when we have our next costume party to see the whole effect. I won't forget then!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I won!

Thank you so much to all of you who went to Vietti View and voted for my Halloween Etsy shop. I won! Congratulations to Krystal who also won an item of her choosing from my shop. I want to thank Jen at Vietti View for running the contest. Her blog is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lunch in style

I found these amazingly cute and eco-friendly lunch totes at Sugar B's shop on Etsy. They are the grown up version of that plastic or tin super hero box you carried in elementary school, (mine was New Kids on the Block!) only these are much better. I love her fabric choices and off-center placement. My favorite is the pear or the carrot; I can't decide. What's your favorite?

They measure 13 inches high and 12 inches wide and are made with natural unbleached cotton and quilters cotton. The inside is lined with water resistant fabric and insulbright batting to keep your food cold for hours. They are even simple to clean: just wipe with a damp towel or hand wash and line dry. The top closes with elastic cord and a super cute wooden, vintage button.

As I was talking to Sugar B owner, Maylee, she told me she's from the same metro area that I am. I'm very happy to be able to support another Iowa artist and seamstress! Maylee also has tote bags and baby bibs with the same style and quality as the lunch totes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

You can never have too many shoes

Grey suede ankle boots by Manolo Blahnik
It's no secret that I have a shoe fetish. It does matter if I'm at a discount or department store or even a flee market, I must check out the shoe selection. My fashionista friend Staci from recently wrote an article about my collection and shoe shopping tips. Check it out on

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A witching night tonight

Tonight is our 10th Annual Halloween Party! I am very excited and have so much left to do. I have yet to put all the elements of my Queen of Hearts costume on at once and I can't wait to see it all come together. I've posted about the shoes I painted and the crown I made, so I thought I'd give you one more piece of the puzzle - the jacket. It is one of the most complicated pieces I've ever sewn and I am very proud of it. I think it was 26 pattern pieces and I didn't have to rip a single seam or re-cut any pieces! (The clothes underneath are just what I happened to wear to work that day and not what I'll be wearing for the actual costume.)

Hopefully tomorrow I will have party pictures to post and you can see the entire Queen of Hearts costume (shoes, skirt, jacket, necklace, earrings and crown). I also made a Mad Hatter costume this year. Check out the top hat I made and the teacup ring I bought on Etsy from Sugar Rain Drops. I also made a plaid jacket and vest for the costume. I can't wait to see it all come together tonight.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

The Halloween items in my Etsy shop are going like mad! So busy I don't have time to write more. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My first cheesecake

Last night we made this Martha Stewart spiderweb cheesecake. I've never made a cheesecake that didn't come from a box and it was a pain! It was worth it in the end because it turned out really cute. It's in the freezer now until Saturday for the party. I'm hoping the whole "out of sight, out of mind" thing works because I really want to eat it! I am very excited to unmold it and put it on my fancy new cake stand for the party.  Tonight I am making the goat cheese ball and a taco cheese ball that looks like a pumpkin. No one will be able to accuse my party of lacking in cream cheese! I also need to go buy more Halloween bowls (we serve soup for dinner) and pick up both small decorative and large carving pumpkins. Whew, that makes me tired just thinking about it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A little birdie told me

Bag 1, front & back

Bag 2, front & back

2 Bags together, side 1

2 Bags together, side 2
Last night I used the Gunilla fabric I picked up last month at Ikea to make a couple more totes and they turned out amazingly. The pattern on the fabric is really large so no image repeats on either bag. They are a pair but each really has its own personality, which I love. Should I sell them as a set or individually? I love them together but separately, two people will get to enjoy them.

Yesterday I was looking at Etsy to see if any one else had worked with this fabric. I found one other bag, but the pattern was turned sideways, making the birds look like they were lying on their backs. I thought that was really strange until I went to cut out the bags last night. I don't use a pattern. Instead I know how to fold a yard of fabric correctly to get straight lines and the right sizes. Just before I took the scissors to the fabric, I realized that if I cut it like I normally do, the birds were going to appear sideways on the final bags. I had to cut the fabric completely different than normal to get it upright. I am so glad that I saw that other bag on Etsy, which made me look twice before cutting. I am sure that's exactly what happened to the maker of that other bag. Learning from others' mistakes - that's a new one for me. I usually have to mess something up on my own to figure it out!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Queen of Halloween

I finished the Halloween costumes! It's a good thing too because our first party is Saturday. I put the elastic string on my Queen of Hearts crown, the grommets and lacing in the Mad Hatter's jacket, trimmed the top hat and ironed the collars of both jackets. (I had just had my brows down, which is why I'm so red in the picture!)

To make my crown, I took a piece of cardstock and rolled it into a cone. I trimmed the bottom and top to be straight at the height I wanted. I cut a triangle template to draw the points so they were even. The seam of the paper was in a weird spot so I unrolled it all and used that for a template on a second piece of cardstock. I added a tab to that piece in order to connect it into a circle nicely.

While the crown was still flat, I glued on gold fabric (left over from my best friend's Madonna costume last year - thanks, Linds!). I used a hot glue gun to glue the tab to the inside and it was done. So fun. It wouldn't pin to my hair nicely so I took super thin elastic (for jewelry making) and thread it through a large needle. I went through each side of the crown and tied the ends. VoilĂ ! I jaunty little crown that sits just perfectly and all for free!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Help me!

Jen at Vietti View is doing an Etsy shop contest. The Etsy shop that gets the most comments will be featured on her blog. If you like my shop, please post on a comment on her post so I can win! Thanks!

I got it!

This weekend my sister moved to Vernon Hills (Chicago). My parents were out there to help. I asked if they'd stop at the Schaumburg Ikea to see if the Noren Gateleg Table was in stock. It's the table that I blogged about in the post This Table is "Sew" Perfect. I found it up in Minneapolis last weekend but they were out of stock. I was so disappointed, I could have cried.

Anyway, it was in stock and they picked it up for me! My dad will be in town for business later this week and will deliver it. I cannot wait to put it together. (I love assembling things - weird, I know.) It will be nice to have the extra table this weekend for our annual costume party but after that it's going to be my sewing table. Hooray!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lydibug Designs on Etsy

Lydibug Designs is a skilled seamstress on Etsy, but that isn't uncommon. What makes her stand out is her impeccable and unique ability to pick great fabrics and coordinate unusual patterns. She sent me the Funky Flowers mini-wallet (top picture) and I love it.

Lydibug lists these mini-wallets for holding business cards, gift cards, money and credit cards. I took it to a concert with my I.D., debit card and cash and it worked great and I could see the envious looks from others every time I took it out. However, I found a new use for it on a day-to-day basis. It is the perfect size to hold my iPod nano with headphones. I tuck it into my purse, without worrying about it getting scratched up or the battery running low from buttons accidentally getting pushed. These would be a great little gift for a girlfriend, daughter, coworker or teacher. The wallet is 2.5”x4.5” when closed and is reinforced with soft and sturdy interfacing. It closes with a pearl and metal snap.

Lydibug Designs also sells bibs, diaper wipe cases, checkbook covers, list organizers, id badge holders, purses, phone charms and keychain wristlets. Her Etsy shop lists coffee cozy sleeves, car seat strap covers and scrabble tile pendants as "coming soon."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy accident, I think

I made this tote this week out of fabric I had from when I covered my dining room chairs. It's very sturdy and a little more "classic" than some I've made before. On the previous striped bags, I make the stripes on the handle vertical, the same as the bag. On this bag I made them horizontal (sort of on accident) but I think I like it better. You tell me, which is better? Vertical or horizontal?

Also, I am getting enough bags stocked up that trying to keep them straight is becoming confusing. I was thinking of calling the bags by different people's names. For example, the white canvas bag with the green patterned stiletto ankle boot, I could call Lindsay because she gave me that great green fabric. The grey and gold one I posted most recently could be Patricia because that is the fabric line at Ikea that the print came from. Cheesy idea? Do you have any better ideas on how/what to name them? I'd love to hear any suggestions.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Never fails

I wouldn't say I spill coffee on myself every time I have it, but it's a fairly regular occurrence. This morning it was a peppermint mocha down the right leg of my (thankfully) dark jeans. It's sticky and cold now and still going to be visible once it's dry. Great.

I am less irritated about it than I normally would be because I am using my new reusable, cloth coffee cup sleeve that I made yesterday. It's reversable, fun and eco-friendly.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Best ones yet

I made two more matching totes last night out great fabric from Ikea. They turned out so good I don't know if I can keep myself from using them! I have enough fabric to either make a third matching bag for Etsy or to make a larger tote for myself. I think keeping one is winning!


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