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Snail Mail Craft Swap Project- REVEALED!

September 30, 2009

Drum-roll Please...!

Ladies and Gentlemen, my Snail Mail Craft Swap Project for Alia was the Weekender Travel Bag by Amy Butler!!!

After many hours at the sewing machine, +/- 5 denim sewing needles, shedding a few tears, and a custom made box for mailing, the Bag is in Alia's possession (whoo hoo!).

Before purchasing the pattern I Googled the bag and found so many good (and true) reviews by bloggers (here, here, and here) of their sewing experience. I'll be the first to admit that some of the reviews scared me as I had never made a bag, sewn in a zipper, nor made cording, however there is a first time for everything- right? :)
Note- all of the fabric used for the bag was purchased from JoAnn's (on sale!). I used Home Decor fabric for the outside, handles, and cording and I used a great Heidi Grace orange cotton fabric for the lining (I forgot to take a photo of the interior, so you'll just have to trust me that the orange fabric is stunning, or you can venture to this post [last photo] and see the fabric for yourself as I'm using the extra fabric for the apron!).

A couple tips from my personal experience:

  • When preparing the cording, DON'T crowd the cording (Amy's specific instructions, although I had no idea what that meant at the I do!). After preparing the cording you will sew it onto the main panel and then when putting the bag together- every time you must sew to the left of the original stitch, thus if you crowd the cording (as I did) it makes everything that much more difficult, as if you don't sew to the left of the stitch you will see the stitch on the finished bag, which is a bit unsightly.
  • I was not able to find a 30" non-separating zipper, granted I only looked at JoAnn's, however I've come to learn that I'm not the only one to not find the 'correct' zipper. I purchased a 30" separating zipper and hand stitched at the end of the zipper to disable the 'separating' component.
  • I also added inside pockets, as the pattern does not provide instructions to do so. I cut extras of the Main Panel Pocket (from the exterior fabric), I sewed 1/4" along the top with wrong sides together, turned, basted the remaining 3 sides, top stitched along the top (just like the directions for the Main Panel Pocket), sewed the inside pocket panel to the lining a desired (I chose to sew one vertical line making two pockets).
  • I added four purse feet to the bottom of the bag, as the bottom is light colored and I didn't want Alia to have to worry about setting the bag down! I found the purse feet to be hard to find locally, however they are very available online. Supposedly a special tool is needed to make the hole, however I just made a little snip with my scissors, inserted the foot, fray-checked the edges and then added the finishing plate- voila!

I Won the Snail Mail Craft Swap Lottery!

September 29, 2009

I arrived home Monday evening to a box on my doorstep from Alia, my Snail Mail Craft Swap project had arrived! I opened the box with great anticipation, discovering two neatly wrapped gifts, a beautifully sewn clutch with matching wallet and a gorgeous knitted throw! I feel like I just won the Craft Swap lottery! :o)

Before the grand photo reveal...have I mentioned how Alia and I met??? We were both fourth year architecture students in Florence, Italy. Needless to say being in a foreign country with only a handful of American students, we clung to each other like sisters (and I'm so grateful for that!). Alia and I had all sorts of outings, however I distinctively remember the afternoon that we found a craft store in Florence and purchased wire and beads and made our own rings (while in Florence I developed a love for handmade rings)...those were the days! :)

Clutch with matching wallet.

Knitted throw (the colors are so gorgeous and vibrant!).

Thank you Alia for agreeing to my 'crazy' idea (and for the beautiful photos above). I hope to get together again for another Craft Swap, but this time we might have to present our projects in person!

First Christmas Craft Order- Complete!

September 28, 2009

I'm excited to announce that my first Christmas craft order (also my first craft order ever-- thank you Kim!) is complete and will be delivered tomorrow! Five Amy Karol Artsy Clutches adorned with unique buttons- what more could a girl want? :)

Homemade Meal Monday (#6)!

French Dip Sandwiches anyone? I'll be the first to admit that I think Rachel Ray is pretty cool (although sometimes a bit too bubbly for my taste), however you can't beat her 30 minute meals! Today I'm sharing Rachel's French Dip Sandwich recipe, as it is simple, flavorful, and satisfying!

2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 jigger dry sherry, optional
2 cans beef consomme
1 1/2 pounds deli sliced roast beef
Grill seasoning blend for steak, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning Blend, or, coarse salt and pepper
4 torpedo sandwich rolls, split


In a large, shallow skillet over moderate heat, melt butter. Add shallots to butter and saute 2 minutes. Add flour to butter and shallot and cook a minute longer. Whisk in sherry and cook liquid out. Whisk in consomme in a slow stream. Bring sauce to a bubble and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve sandwiches.

Pile meat loosely across your cutting board or a large work surface. Season meat with grill seasoning or salt and black pepper. Set out 4 ramekins or small soup cups for dipping sauce, 4 dinner plates and 4 split torpedo rolls. To assemble, using a pair of kitchen tongs, dip meat into loose au jus sauce and pile into rolls. Set ramekins or cups with extra dipping sauce along side the sandwiches.

Are You Ready For Some Football???

September 27, 2009

Mr. D's (formerly Mr. Made With Love) Steelers quilt is heading to my long arm quilter (thank you Martha!), which means I'm well on my way to finishing the quilt before the end of October (my promised due date; hopefully by the time I attach the binding, the 100+ degree weather will be long gone)!

Quilt Top...GO STEELERS!

Quilt Back

Now I'm off to work on the Artsy Clutch Christmas order (can you believe Christmas is less than 3 months away???)!

Come back Monday for another great Rachel Ray recipe, and Tuesday evening I'll post photos of the Snail Mail Craft Swap project (Alia's package is scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday- yeah!).

1/2 yard, 1 yard, 2 yards?

September 22, 2009

Calling all experienced sewers, I'm in need of your help and wisdom!

I have an itch to build up my fabric stash with an assortment of great fabric (which stems from finding the perfect apron fabric in my stash as well as the need and desire to organize my crafting and sewing items into one central location). I foresee a shopping trip to M&L Fabrics in the very near future! :)

In your experience, how much fabric do you buy when building your stash, 1/2 yard, 1 yard, 2 yards, etc.? Thanks in advance for your help!

Homemade Meal Monday (#5)!

September 21, 2009

Chicken anyone? Rachel Ray's Grilled Honey Lime Chicken is quite tasty, as well as easy on the wallet! The recipe yeilds chicken sandwiches, however I serve the chicken breasts sans bread with chips salsa, and a quick and easy guacamole salad- yum! :) (Note if you like the idea of sandwiches, use the link above.)

1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1 rounded teaspoon cumin
A handful cilantro, finely chopped, about 1/2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, canola, or corn oil
4 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon grill seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper


Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning blend or salt and pepper. Coat chicken in dressing and set aside for 10 minutes. (I prefer to marinate the chicken for +/- 1 hour)

Grill chicken on an indoor electric grill 6 to 7 minutes on each side or pan fry over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet uncovered 6 minutes per side.


I Found My Mojo!

September 20, 2009

I'm happy to report that since Friday's post I have officially found my mojo! It's been a busy sewing weekend...just the way I like it! :)

The baby bib I mentioned on Friday was completed last night (thankfully I didn't TOTALLY wait until the last minute)! Just a quick little "I'm thinking of you gift". As mentioned before, my Mom did the wonderful embroidery, and I assembled the bib (the back is a red solid with white polka dots).

I also made some great progress on Mr. D's Steelers quilt. I finished and trimmed all twenty blocks (see photo below for samples of blocks A and B), which are now ready to be sewn together! The Steelers print shown below will be the thick outside border (I'm still in the market for a thin inside border, but will decide on that after all the blocks are sewn together!).

I went to JoAnn's with my Mom on Saturday (she is so patient)! The patterns were on sale (Butterick=$0.99 and McCalls'= $1.99), so we sat down at the pattern table in hopes of finding patterns for Christmas, as I wanted to send something handmade to three special kids (Mr. D's best friend's children).

We walked out of JoAnn's with a pattern for pajama pants and fabric for the boys (ages 10 and 4).

We also walked out with an apron pattern for for the little girl (see below- the full body apron on the girl with the pink shirt and jeans). We searched high and low for perfect apron fabric (something bright, fun and festive) but didn't have any luck. Low and behold I found the fabrics below in my stash, and they are perfect! The citrus print for the body of the apron, the yellow for the ruffle and pockets, and the orange for the straps!

In Search of Motivation!

September 18, 2009

I must make a confession, as I have not crafted since Mr. Made With Love and I returned home from the cruise (gasp!). I believe the lack of motivation has to do with the fact that my kitchen table is actually clean (getting my sewing stuff out always makes a mess...I'm sure you all can relate!), and the fact that my days at work have been long thus I'm only in the mood to veg after 5pm.

With all that said I do have a couple things on my To-Do List:
  • I have to photograph and send my Snail Mail Craft Swap project to Alia (I'm crossing my fingers that she loves it...PS- keep your eye out for the photo reveal sometime next week!);

  • I must finish a baby bib for a first birthday on Monday (I'll post a photo this weekend as my Mom embroidered the bib and I'm sewing it together [nothing like tag teaming it!]);

  • I also promised Mr. D that his Steelers quilt would be completed by the end of October (since football season is HERE...I better get my booty in gear!);

  • I also have a Christmas order for 5 Amy Karol Artsy Clutches (which is quite exciting!);

  • I also must begin work on my Craft Swap project. [Yep you read correctly; the last Craft Swap was such a success that we've decided to meet again!]. Note- If you are interested in starting your own Craft Swap, it's quite simple and I totally encourage you to take the plunge! Reach out to a couple of your crafty friends (and note if they don't live in the same City you can do a Snail Mail Craft Swap). Please feel free to share the link above should you and your friends need Craft Swap ideas/inspiration. I'm also available via email or comments!

I'm also toying with the idea of opening an Etsy shop, which is exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time! If you're willing, I would love to hear your experiences of opening an Esty shop (the good, bad, and ugly).

While I'm at it, I would also like to participate in Blue Eyed Blessings monthly craft challenge, however with my To-Do List above, the timing may not work out this time. Head on over to Heidi's blog to learn more about the craft challenge, as all this month the challenge is to make something Halloween or Fall themed. All entries are due October 1st.

For all of my local fans, Ginger's Quilt Shoppe is having their anniversary sale this Saturday! I believe Ginger and Linda are offering 25% off all fabrics (with a one yard minimum cut). Perhaps I'll see you there!

A Dog's Life!

September 16, 2009

Ahhh photos from home! This morning I received a photo text message (see below) of Stuart relaxing on his bean bag bed, as Mr. D was getting ready for work...what a life! :)

Smile and enjoy your day!

Homemade Meal Monday (#4)!

September 14, 2009

I had some great authentic Mexican food last week, as we ate where the locals ate (it doesn't get much better than that!). With that, I'd like to share a Chilaquiles Casserole recipe (I LOVE enchilada sauce!) with all, compliments of the Food Network.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 19-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups corn, frozen (thawed) or fresh
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 corn tortillas, quartered
1 19-ounce can mild red or green enchilada sauce
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.

Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the baking dish. Top with about half the vegetable mixture, about half the enchilada sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.


Well Rested and Back in the USA!

September 13, 2009

Hello to all! I'm back with access to a computer and cell phone (yeah!), as well as nice and icy cold Diet Coke (my favorite)!!! A week sure does fly by when you're having fun...

We left last Sunday out of San Pedro, CA and sailed on the Mariner of the Seas to Mexico (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarata) and back. Mr. D and I were welcomed home this morning by a very happy and rambunctious puppy (Stuart), as well as our two dear friends Casey and Heather that graciously house sat and puppy sat while we were away (THANK YOU SO MUCH!).

Mariner of the Seas

The first port of call was Cabo San Lucas, where Mr. D, my sister and soon to be brother-in-law chose to do a canopy adventure excursion (way out of my comfort zone!). Below are a few photos of the zip-lines, bridges, ladders, etc. that both Mr. D and I conquered!

Zip- line

Mr. D crossing the rope bridge (very scary, and I'm not even going to comment about the lovely green water below!).

Rock Wall Ladder

Tarazan Swing (quite fun!).

Mr. D crossing the hanging bridge. (Note- [dear family] due to my past experience of FALLING through a hanging bridge in Hawaii [granted not nearly as high as the one pictured above] I was very NERVOUS, but I made it!)

We (aka the six of us- Mom, Dad, me, Mr. D, sister, and soon to be brother-in-law) spent the day in Mazatlan traveling through the City both by taxi (aka buggies) and foot (it was SO hot and HUMID- ick!). We stopped in Senor Frog's for a drink and some entertainment and then ended the day with a very delicious (and cheap) lunch before heading back to the boat. Oh and PS- we walked around looking for a tequila bottle shaped like a worm for someone in California. If you're in need of one you can find them in the shops at the cruise terminal (the last place we looked before we boarded the ship)! ;)

View of Mazatlan from ship (Port side).

View of Mazatlan from left side of ship.

Puerto Vallarata was also very hot and humid (thus most of the photos are foggy as the camera lens fogged up due to the humidity!). The six of us spent the day walking around the City, looking in shops, we grabbed lunch at a local taco place (quite yummy) and rode the City bus back to the Port (much more economical than a taxi!). :)

All in all the cruise was a wonderful and very relaxing vacation. The food was EXCELLENT, as well as the on-board activities (entertainment, games, etc.). In January my vacation hours will be replenished, thus Mr. D and I might have to look at taking another cruise in the near future! :)

PS- The cruise hosted an art class on Saturday (which I missed because I thought it was a kid's art class- so sad!). From what I gathered the participants used Mod Podge and made a frame for a vacation photo or two- so cool! I've got some unpacking and grocery shopping to do, and tomorrow after work I'm back to my crafting routine! :)

Wood, Paint, and Mod Podge

September 5, 2009

As promised in the post below, the project is complete and thus a little show and tell!

I've found myself to be in awe of (and very inspired by) hopeink's scripture art. I first started toying around with a blank digital canvas in Photoshop, but decided that it just wasn't 'my style', thus the finished project below (click on the photo for a larger view)!

The piece above was made with a very special lady in mind, Jayme, my church small group leader. Just a little parting gift on behalf of our women's group!

Deep Breath!

September 3, 2009

Saturday I cleared off my sewing table (aka the dining room table) and stored my sewing machine, as I've been tinkering with a new medium (wood, paint, paper and Mod Podge)! The 'newness' and 'unknown' are quite exciting, and the 'ideas' seem to flow the most just as I lay my head on my pillow for the night; then comes reality and my fault of perfectionism!

Last night is not one I'm proud of! I was working with my new medium (I'll post photos upon completion), got Mr. D's approval (he determines if someone other than my family would be proud to display my handmade work in their home!) and yet kept working at it until it became a gloppy mess- ugh! I took a deep breath and proceeded to sand the painted section, to prepare to repaint and start over, yet the more I messed with the damaged piece the worse it got. It was about 11pm (way past my bedtime!) when I decided to scrap the project all together and start over- so very frustrating! To think that I had a perfect piece (in its own handmade way), a piece that would have been loved by someone for what it was, yet I kept doting on until it was wanted by no one.

Tonight is round 2- let's hope for a better outcome! :)


September 2, 2009

I wanted to give all fair warning that I'll be without computer access for a week, beginning Sunday, as I'll be on vacation (finally!). I must say that this will be my first 'vacation' in a very long time. Yes, I've taken time off of work, but really haven't had a 'relax and do nothing vacation' in forever!

Sunday we'll board the cruise ship for a 7-day cruise to Mexico (thankfully we'll be missing Hurricane Jimena!). Mr. D's birthday is next Thursday (9/10), which we'll be celebrating in Puerto Vallarta...not too shabby!

I'll meet everyone back here next Sunday with some vacation pictures- deal? :)

Mini Cupcakes!

September 1, 2009

Remember the hamburger and french fries from last week? After studying Bakerella's blog, I went to the grocery store buy cake mix, frosting, and melting chocolate to make mini cupcakes (aren't they darling?)! :)

I enlisted my Mom and Aunt to help!

Make sure the balls are sized correctly for your cookie cutter!

The finished product!

I found the mini cupcakes to be quite difficult (and I don't think I have to mention that they don't look anything like Bakerella's), yet they were enjoyed by all, therefore a SUCCESS!!!