Thursday, September 29, 2016

In Loving Memory

We said goodbye to Miss Little Bit yesterday morning. Things took a turn for the worse on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning, we knew, it was time.

A friend had told me about a veterinarian service called Lap of Love who would come to our home. I just couldn't bear the thought of having her last moments filled with any fear. There was no fear, just peace. The vet, Dr. Christina, was so loving and kind. For such a difficult situation, it could not have been handled better. I was able to be with her, and I felt her take her last breath. Loved and protected to the very end.

One of my favorite pictures. I love the look of disgust. She didn't mind the coat, but she hated those boots. I had just been telling her how cute she looked and she flashed this look at me. 

Happy times. Hiking, one of our favorite things to do. This was taken on Thanksgiving, 2014. We hiked a trail in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado that morning. 

I'm a weepy mess. But, I know my tears are there because she was so loved. If only every person, and every pet could be loved as much as Little Bit, what a wonderful world it would be.

I wanted to share the news, as so many of you have sent such kind words our way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

As for now, yes, I'm hurting, my heart is broken. But in time, I think that the memories of Miss Little Bit will be so sweet. I have cherished each and every moment I have had with her. She brought so much joy and happiness into my life. 

Little Bit


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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Wednesday Showcase

A friend's good fortune is a blessing.
The above quote is from the movie Seven Years In Tibet, and, one of my favorites. This could not be more true today. 

There's a wonderful man who lives in Barcelona, Spain. Creative, kind, and handsome, he is truly one of the last real couturiers, and master pattern makers. 

Social media is a buzz as Francisco Peralta, or Paco, has just released 2 beautiful patterns with Vogue Patterns.

In his traditional, sleek and tailored style, Vogue 1527.

While I enjoy the model pictures, it's the line drawings that I love the most. The pattern features a long jacket/coat, wrap skirt, and a tie blouse. The jacket could easily be shortened to a jacket style. So very versatile. 

The second pattern, and my favorite, Vogue 1526.

The pattern features an over-jacket which could be worn on its own, sleek straight leg pants, and a very sporty top. Take note of the in-seam buttonholes. A trademark of Paco's. He has a beautiful jacket pattern which I've made that has the same feature. You can see the Unique Jacket pattern HERE

For quite a few years, Francisco has been producing the loveliest of patterns. Each pattern is hand drawn by Paco and comes delivered on vellum. A treat for the eyes, hands and mind. 

Below are a few that I have made and love. All can be found in his Etsy shop HERE. I have made the blouse on the right, the draped blouse, a number of times. It's a great, go with anything piece. 

So yes, a friend's good fortune is a gift, a blessing, as Paco's patterns are now available without the high shipping fees from Spain. But, if you don't mind a little splurge, by all means, order one of his original patterns as the experience is well worth the shipping fee. 

I'm looking forward to making up Vogue 1526. It will be the perfect addition to my fall/winter wardrobe.

Congratulations Paco!!! I could not be happier for you.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stella Has A Secret

And the secret is...
I finished up my Stella Bag for the sew along last week. WooHoo!!! You're getting the first sneak peek! I think she is so pretty! Next week I'll include pictures of me carrying the bag to give you a better idea of the size. In the mean time, pop over to Swoon Patterns. If you like the Stella Weekender Bag, I bet you'll like lots of the other patterns too. 

This week's post is up on the Sew News blog and you can find it HERE. We are diving head long into all the pockets.
There's a front zippered pocket. In the post I talk about reinforcing the bag prior to inserting the zipper. PLEASE do not skip this step

We also attach the cargo pockets. This is one of those projects where you may initially feel a little intimidated, but once they are attached...nothing but pride :) 

We also attach the handles as the handles should be attached prior to putting the bag all together. I did not use the stiff interfacing in my handles that the pattern calls for. I don't like anything in my hand that feels too hard. Just a quirk. So I used the fusible cotton interfacing on both sides of my handles and I feel that the handles have plenty of stability.

I took Bunny of La Sewista's direction on reinforcing the handles. Not only does it help to secure the handles, I think the "x" design looks rather pretty as well. Thanks Bunny! You can take a glimpse of Bunny's Weekender Bag HERE, HERE, and HERE.    

When I was asked to put together a year of sew alongs for Sew News, I knew that they would like a bag included in the line up, so I began to search for something that I thought was special. For the life of me, I don't remember how I found Swoon Patterns, but I'm glad I did. The patterns are well thought out and the results are amazing!
If you are making a weekender bag, I hope you too are enjoying the process. 

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Night Reflections

A delay is better than a disaster.
                                                                                 From the movie, "Sully"

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Eating For Your Future/Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Soup

Not only do I find some wonderful recipes on Pinterest, sometimes I also find a great inspirational story. The recipe I'm sharing today comes from Dara of Cookin Canuck. She's a Canadian who now lives in the United States. Not only does she have some wonderful recipes on her blog, her weight loss success story is very inspirational. No magic, just changing her diet and adding a good workout routine. You can read her story HERE.   

The temperatures are beginning to change here in Chicago, and while I enjoy soup year round, I especially enjoy having soup on hand for a quick lunch and an easy supper. This one appealed to me because of course I love vegetables, and I especially enjoy barley.

I also love throwing all the ingredients in a slow cooker and going on about my day. 
This recipe has carrots, sweet potato, green beans, celery, onion, canned tomatoes, and barley.

The result is a very satisfying bowl of soup. You can find a printable version of the recipe HERE

I will make a couple of changes the next time around. The addition of a bay leaf would be nice, and 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms would also be a great. Mushrooms and barley just seem to go together to me.  

Hope you'll give the recipe a try. You might want to make up a pot and invite a few friends over for a bowl. I think they'll love you for it. I know I would :) And If you want an easy dessert to add to the meal, try out the Apple Tart I posted HERE.  

Happy Fall!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Dressmaker

I had the wonderful opportunity to see a screening of The Dressmaker on Wednesday evening. While the clothes are central to the movie, it's about so much more. A bit of a Shakespearean tale of love and revenge. But, it also is a lesson on hate, jealousy and how both can destroy those who seek to destroy another.   

Kate Winslet plays the role superbly. I loved that she is not this tiny little wisp of a woman, but a woman with curves, and it's the curves that really make the clothes come to life. There's a line early in the movie where one of the town's people says, "a dress can't change anything." Kate Winslet's character replies, "watch and learn."  

I love this picture. The power of a sewing machine and how it can not only transform a piece of fabric, but a person's entire life. 

I've included the trailer, In my opinion, the trailer really doesn't capture the true essence of the movie.   

There's a motto that I live by, "No weapon formed against me will prosper." What I have learned, is that for a period of time, those who hate us and want to see ill come our way may seem to have the upper hand. But, in time, in time, right will prevail. The truth will be made known. And this is the true essence of the movie.

The movie is funny, dark, haunting, sad, and uplifting. This is a movie that I look forward to watching again. It's a rich story that I think will have a little something different to say each time I see it. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Wednesday Showcase Gift

It seems that when life deals up something a little difficult, it always gives you something sweet as well.

Before I explain, I would first like to say thank you to so very many of you who left a note on THIS post where I talked about the difficulties of the summer and the negative Wednesday Showcase experience. Your well wishes, support, and concern so very deeply touched my heart. Thank you really is not enough, but I do thank you.

So the sweet, and it's not only a little sweet, but super sweet :) 
I received a message from Kim of The Material Lady letting me know that she and  "The Management" were planning a trip to Chicago. I offered an airplane ride as I think that seeing Chicago from the air is just the best. They jumped at the chance! You can read about their experience HERE, and see a few pictures as well. The picture below was taken post flight, so they survived! 

A word about Kim. See the smile on her face. It's not just a smile, it's who she is. Energetic, fun, and so full of life. She's preparing for a half marathon and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she doesn't pass up many who are half her age. 

Now I just have to share the incredible gifts she brought along. Oh my, it was better than Christmas!

A gorgeous piece of Linton fabric woven in England!!! Either side could be used, but I told Kim that I like the hairy side ;), which you see in the picture below.

It even came with a label. There's enough to do something truly special, I just don't know exactly what yet.

A giant thimble all the way from the Victoria and Albert Museum gift shop. Once I finally get my studio in shape, this will be the loveliest reminder of our visit.

There was a piece of candy, a big piece of candy actually, and a mug from their hometown. All such beautiful and completely unexpected gifts.

I've thought more about the Wednesday Showcase posts and what they have meant to me over the years. I have met some of the most wonderful people. Taking the time to really go through someone's blog, you get a very special glimpse of not only what they like to make, but who they are, and quite honestly, I don't think I want to give that up. For now though, I am going to continue to take a little break. As I said, I am working on something that has been on my mind and heart for quite some time and I think you will enjoy it. I hope so anyway. 

Before I go, I have a secret to share, so shhhh! Kim refers to her husband as "The Management." Guess what, he's really just a very sweet teddy bear. Spending the day with the 2 of them was a priceless experience. It was truly a Wednesday Showcase gift :)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I just couldn't resist the subtle reference to Marlon Brando yelling for Stella in the movie, a Street Car Named Desire :) This Stella has a much brighter, and happier story, the Stella Weekender Bag from Swoon Patterns. The bag I made for the magazine will soon have a new home. My niece was over this past weekend, loved the bag, so of course nothing will make me happier than to send it home with her. She loves anything vintage, and since this bag is made out of barkcloth, it has a bit of a vintage vibe. 

The next post is up on the Sew News blog, and you can find it HERE. Bunny of La Sewista has been working on a Stella bag that she is giving as a diaper bag to a new mom. Here's a glimpse of her lovely work,

Look closely at the stitching she did on the handle. I really like the added reinforcement that she did. 

When Bunny told me that she was working on the bag, I asked her if she would share some of her thoughts. You know, two heads are always better than one ;) One point that she brought up is that while the Stella bag is perfect for the addition of piping, no instructions are given in the pattern. So in this week's post, I tried to walk you step by step through the process of how to make piping and how to add it to the bag, as well as how much piping you will need.  

Bunny also found a wonderful group on Facebook called, Swoon Patterns Group. It's a closed group, but all you have to do is ask to join and you'll be accepted. There's a lot of great info on the page about all the wonderful bag patterns from Swoon. In fact, the devotees call themselves "Swooners." What fun! 
I added a little info on a cutting aide that Bunny shared and you can find directions on how to find it on the post I did for Sew News.

I'm excited about my new bag. I had just enough fabric. This one is going to be really bright and fun.

 If you've never made piping, I encourage you to give it a try. It's fun to make, and it really adds such a nice touch to bags and clothing alike.

If you are making a bag, let me know and send a picture, I would love to see and post your work!

Happy Sewing!

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Night Reflections

A Challenge

Go 24 hours without complaining, not even once...then watch how your life begins to change.

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Healthy Eating/Easy Pasta

Some years back, sundried tomatoes were everywhere. Regardless of the restaurant, it seems that every chef found some way to incorporate them into a recipe. Now it seems that they are no longer the hot item, and in fact, I rarely see them mentioned. But, I LOVE sun dried tomatoes. So, if you like them too, here's a super quick and easy pasta dish that not only makes up for a quick supper, I think guests would enjoy it as well. 

Sun Dried Tomato, Feta and Roasted Walnut Pasta 

1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
3 oz. package sun dried tomatoes (julienned)
2 tablespoons olive oil  
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 pound of fettuccine cooked to package directions (I used a spinach fettuccine) 
salt and black pepper to taste

While bringing water to boil for pasta, heat olive oil. Add chopped onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add julienned sun dried tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until pasta is ready.

Prior to draining pasta, add 3 tablespoons of pasta liquid to sun dried tomato and onion mixture. 
Place pasta in a serving dish and top with the sun dried tomato and onion mixture.

Top with crumbled feta cheese. Toss all together. Cheese will begin to melt and become creamy.

Top pasta with fresh chopped chives and roasted, chopped walnuts.

Dish up and enjoy!

There's little that I enjoy more than a satisfying dish of pasta, a lovely glass of red wine, all served and enjoyed in the garden. Just the loveliest ending to a day. 

Hope you enjoy if you give it a try!

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bags That Make Travel a Breeze

Over the weekend of September 30th, and October 1st, I will be in Peoria, IL doing a 2 day seminar. The first day will be an entire day of sewing. Fun!
I was asked to do a bag where the participants would insert zippers as many are just not that comfortable with inserting zippers,after all, zippers can be a little intimidating. The large bag will be our primary project.   

The bag is fairly basic, but very user friendly. I have always wanted a truly coordinated traveling set, and now I have one! 

To give a little more stability to the bag, there is a facing along the top. Hanging free from the facing is a large interior pocket with a zipper.

On the front of the bag is a slide pocket, no zipper, that will easily hold your I-Pad.

And here's my favorite feature...
The back of the bag has a zippered pocket that will slide over the handle of a rolling suitcase. So no more killing your shoulder trying to carry the bag.

As I said, the pocket has a zipper, so easy access to your boarding ticket and identification.

To coordinate with the larger bag, I made a toiletry bag and what I call a lipstick bag. The small bag is really meant for anything small that might get lost in a larger bag.

The toiletry bag features an outside zipper, great for combs, cotton pads, etc.

Both bags have a wide bottom.

The challenge with each of these bags is inserting the zipper where there is a piped edge. It's really quite easy to do.

If you live in the United States, I purchased everything for my bags at Joann Fabrics, even the fabric. They have some super fun prints in the Home Dec section.

I will be giving you the pattern dimensions, and a how to in an upcoming Fabulous Free Pattern Friday post. The pattern for the small bags will soon be available for purchase.

The Friday class for the Peoria ASG Sew Special '16 is full, but if you are anywhere near Peoria, and have a little time on October 1st, pop on over. You can read all about the day and sign up HERE

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Life and The Wednesday Showcase

It has been a difficult summer. At one point, I sat down to dinner and told my husband that I feel like Job, you know, the guy in the Bible who lost is family, all of his money, ended up covered in boils, and whose wife told him that he should just curse God and die. So much for a supportive wife!!! Well, life has not been that bad, thankfully! But, below are just a few of the issues I've had to deal with this summer.

There have been family issues, which are always heartbreaking. We had a major gas leak to deal with. The good news about that is that we didn't end up on the national news, or worse, dead. But it was a major project to get it fixed. We had an electrical fire. Our contractor was amazed that the entire house did not burn down. It happened while we were away, so had it been worse, we would have lost the dogs as well as the house. 
There was the accident with the airplane when a tire blew out as I was landing. While far from a major accident, it was frustrating at best. Because the plane was disabled on the runway, the airport was shut down for 3 hours while they moved the plane off of the runway. Boeing is based at my airport and of course this was the moment that they wanted to get one of their jets out. And as fate would have it, 2 other private jets were ready to go, so no one was happy with me. As for the blow out, it wasn't my fault, it happens. And the good news is that I handled it beautifully, and no one was hurt...or dead. 

The plane was due for its annual inspection. So since it was disabled, I had to arrange for the mechanic to come to me. Getting this arranged was not an easy task. In order to move the process along a little faster, I helped with the maintenance. Of course this always comes at a time that really isn't convenient. But it was accomplished, and.... 

I have been back in the air, and doing aerial tours. This picture was taken by a couple whom I took up for a ride back in June. I had no idea the picture was taken. They said they couldn't believe my concentration.

I hurt my back. When I went to the doctor, I was asked if I had ever had damage to my hips, or had been in an accident. Nothing that I could remember. Then I went home and began to think about it. I remembered that after having all the injections in my hips for fertility treatments, my hip muscles burned when I would go for my morning walks, and that it lasted for about 3 years. My morning walks are not a stroll. Many have told me that my walk is more like a run, so I'm really moving. When I went back to the doctor, I told them about what I remembered, and they now feel that I have deep tissue damage that surfaced due to all the heavy gardening I did this summer, 

as well as the extra work I was doing to prepare for the marathon in October. 

I am now going to rehab twice a week. The marathon is off for this year. The good news is that since I won the lottery, I can move my position to next year. The doctor feels that there are muscles that can be strengthened around the damaged area and that the pain will go away and I should have no problem doing the marathon...next year. I'm disappointed, but this is hardly the end of the world. 

As I've shared with you, Little Bit was diagnosed with cancer. She's old, almost 16 years old, so of course things go wrong at this point, but it's heartbreaking nonetheless. We had two bad nights a few weeks ago, but she has rebounded, at least for now. 

I began doing the Wednesday Showcase posts probably about a year after I started blogging on a regular basis. I was so very grateful (still am!) to have anyone read my posts and I wanted to give a little something back, so each week, I would showcase 2 bloggers. Some you knew well, others were new to blogging. Over the years, I have met some of the most amazing people, and I've even had the opportunity to meet a few in person. I've been doing the Wednesday Showcase posts for about 5 years, and during that time, everyone who has contacted me has been very happy to have me showcase their blog. That was not the case recently. The post was as all my showcase posts have been. I linked to the blog, showed pictures of their beautiful work, and encouraged readers to check out the blog. I heard from the blogger who was quite angry, and went on to tell me all that I had done wrong. I was shocked to say the least, and quite honestly, very hurt as well. I apologized and said that it was only meant to try and promote their blog and say thank you for following my blog. To add insult to injury, this happened on the same day that Little Bit was diagnosed with cancer. 

So many of you have told me how much you like the Wednesday Showcase posts as you enjoy learning about new to you bloggers. After the recent incident, I have decided to end the posts. Of course, one should not spoil it for everyone, but as I thought about it, I decided that maybe it's time for something new. I have been working on a new project that will begin in October. It won't happen on a weekly basis like the Wednesday Showcase posts did, at least, not for now. But I think it will be fun, and it will give me the opportunity to introduce you to some of the fabulous people and the things that they are doing in the sewing world. This is kind of a situation of where when life gives you lemons, find a way to make lemonade. 

So, to all of you who stop by, thank you. And a big thank you to all of you who do blog. There was a time when I thought I would see the end of sewing as a creative art. But thanks so all of you who blog and sew, and even those of you who don't blog, but still sew, this extremely special art has not died. 

Happy Wednesday :)

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Monday, September 12, 2016

A Bag To Swoon Over

I thought I would preempt our usual Monday Morning Inspiration post and let you know that the first week of the Swoon Patterns Stella Weekender Bag Sew Along is up on the Sew News blog

In this week's post, I've tried to show you every aspect of the bag, all the pockets(and there are many), the handles as well as the shoulder strap.

You also find info on a few aspects about the pattern that might be confusing. A couple of the pattern pieces have to be folded down in order to obtain other pattern pieces. There are also a few pieces that you will have to draw out. Don't let that scare you. The pieces are just simple rectangles, so super easy.

I've also given you a list of all the supplies that you will need. So a good running start even if you don't have the pattern yet.

Bunny of La Sewista is making the Stella as a diaper bag for a new mom. Be sure to pop over to her blog as you'll be able to see the beginnings of her bag. During the sew along, I'll be sharing pictures of her bag as well as some of her insights on construction. She mentioned that nothing is said in the instructions about piping. Piping is not necessary for the bag, but if you look at my bag, you'll see that I did add piping. In next week's post, we will go over piping. We'll talk about how to make piping and where you might like to pipe this bag.

In case you are wondering about the fabric that I used for my bag, it's a barkcloth fabric. I LOVE barkcloth and I have a few pieces of true vintage barkcloth. You may remember the fabric that I used for the Amy Butler Beautiful Belle Bag that I did for my very first sew along for Sew News. It's a piece from my collection of vintage barkcloth. I love this bag!

The fabric I used for the Stella Weekender Bag came from a fun little store here in Chicago called Oak Fabrics. The fabric is sadly not upon their website, but I will do my best to stop over this week and see if I can get a link to the fabric. Both were in stock the last time I was in the store.

If you think you might like to join along, you can find a PDF version of the pattern HERE on the Swoon Patterns website, and for those of you who prefer paper, you can find a paper version HERE at Shop Sew It All.  

The bag is a little challenging, lots of pockets and zippers, but I think that I will be able to walk you through the process and you'll end up with a fabulous bag. After all Swoon Patterns are fabulous :) There's even a group of devoted fans who call themselves Swooners! What fun :)

Have a wonderful week!

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