Friday, September 19, 2008

Voila! A Cosmetic Bag

You know the feeling you get when you finish a project you've been lusting after for a long time and it actually came out the way you envisioned? How instead of swearing and lighting a pile of fabric and notions on fire, you actually want to jump up and down and show your 4 year old?
...he was the only other one home at the time...

Backstory: I've been wanting a new 'cosmetic bag' for a while. I've had my current one for probably 5 years and never did like it. While we were on vacation, I looked. Found some I liked, but weren't quite right. Looked once we got home. ...found cheap vinyl ugly ones. Not exactly what I had in mind. Even looked online. Found some REALLY cute ones on etsy. Almost bought. Still not quite right though. (what can I say, my mind's eye is 1. stubborn and 2. picky. Once its there, I can't change it)

I wanted BIG, and box shaped, and colorful and quirky without being obnoxious. So....out of half irritation I typed "cosmetic bag tutorial" into Google. (and this is why I love Google) I found these tutorials: crafster tutorial (this one also links to a more rounded shape bag if that's more to your liking) and three bears tutorial (which is the name of her blog, it is not - in fact - a tutorial for making three bears. fear not.)

I used the second one. The first is next on my list, but....ok the second one looked easier. =P

So now let's walk through the process together before you start your own! I won't get super technical here since you can just refer to the link. Plus....its not that tricky. :) I only made a few small mods - the size of my fabric, used a lining and interfacing, and made tabs on either side of the zipper.

And before we go on, I should point out that I'm a sloppy sewer and this was thrown together as a 'practice' bag. Sewing is not my strength, and I'm envious of those who have pristine corners and tidy edges and everything intersects just so. If you're accustomed to such results, you may want to take a few deep breaths before continuing on to the picture portion of our post. Thank you.

I cut my fabrics to 8"x7" (red outer fabric, medium weight interfacing, blue lining) I also took a scrap of the blue and cut it to 2" wide, fold it in half lengthwise - right sides together - sew a seam, turn it right side out, press it flat, cut in half, and then fold each piece in half to make a tab. I'll show you where that goes in later.

Now for you inexperienced sewers, this is your machine's zipper foot. Now, just to make you all feel better, let's just assume you've never sewed in a zipper before, and had read about said zipper foot...but had no earthly clue what one looked like. You find this crazy contraption in that little bag of odds and ends that came with your machine 5 years ago that you've never used. You could very well use Google to figure out that this is your zipper foot. ...If you needed to. I sure didn't! *hem*

So now you've found your zipper foot, and even got the dang thing on the machine (It kind of goes on off to the side....for you newbies who spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure out why the blasted thing wouldn't go on) Now time to sew the zipper to your fabric. Sandwich your fabrics, (all right sides facing out) and position your zipper and your outer fabric right sides to each other. Sew along the top edge, as close to the zipper as you can (this is easier to explain with the picture of this step that I didn't take...)

Open it up, press it flat and it should look like this... (red outer fabric, zipper, my pant leg)

Ok, now basically do the same again. Make your sandwich, right side of outer fabric facing your zipper. Kinda like...this:

That doesn't help? How bout this one:

See how those top edges line up? Sew those suckers together.

At this point you MAY have to stop to replace your needle. I won't...explain why. Just...if it looks like this...go ahead and change it. It will make the rest of the project much easier.

Ok, once that's done, sew that seam and open and press it flat. Now you have a zipper smack dab in the middle of your fabrics. Great, now what?

Glad you asked! Fold that sucker right sides together again, doing your best to make sure the bottom edges line up. I'm not saying they WILL...but...give it a shot. Now sew a seam there. And if you're like me, your fabrics don't totally measure up (because you didn't cut them 100% accurately in the first place, you lazy slob.) So...for good measure you MAY want to sew that second seam a bit higher up because you noticed not all the blue got caught in the first one.

Ok great! Now...take your bottom seam, and your top/zipper and line them up over each other. Smash it all down flat. ...You could use your iron if you so wish. This is where those tabs will come in. (this is where I had to stop for 5 minutes and figure out how they'd go in. I sometimes get tripped up by common sense...)

You'll want to put them in so the folded edge is inside and the raw edges are poking out. Make sure they're centered, and then sew that open edge shut. If you're paranoid (like me) go back and forth over the zipper and extra time or two. Repeat for the other side.

If you were to turn it right side out, this is what it would look like. You don't need to...unless you want to check your outer seams again to make sure all layers got caught. I did, mine were fine. *phew*

Inside out again....Pinch your corners, pin them, draw a line, and sew. (the more you cut off, the taller your bag will be, the less you cut off, the more 'boxy' it will be. I cut off about an inch and a half.)

All stitched up...

Now cut 'em off! ...Just pretend that raw edge is the telltale 'V' pattern left from pinking shears. I know I should have them, but I don't. I always think "I should pick up a pair" then I stand in front of them at the store, staring at the price and thinking "I should go into the pinking shear business" Its not that they're OUTRAGEOUS. But I have a limited craft budget. (because of stupid things like groceries, and car insurance...pfft.) So when it comes to pinking shears, or more fabric...well, you can guess where my loyalty lies.

So anyway, corners be gone!

Then just trim any extra zipper ends, loose threads, and the like. Now turn that puppy right side out and admire your handiwork!

About this time you'll realize that you forgot to go back and topstitch along the zipper edges. You should technically do that after attaching both sides, and before sewing the bottom seam shut. ...for the record. But you're lazy and don't care that much. You'll keep a mental note for next time though.

You just made your new cosmetic bag, neato huh?

For the record, the measurements above give you a bag that's about 4"wide, 5" long and 2 1/2" tall.

Now, you may be slightly disappointed as you want a bag about twice that size. But you're so smitten with your new creation that you don't much CARE. (I knew rough dimensions going into it, I'll have to tinker with making the larger one)

Because even for its lack of girth, you can fit all of this into it:

And that suits you just fine. (and now you all know my dirty secret. I buy generic makeup from Walgreens....ok its not much of a dirty secret, but its all I've got.)

And there ya go! Pack it full and enjoy it each morning! And if you really do want to make one, ignore my insane directions and go for the clear instructions in that link ;)

There is a way to do this where the lining is sewn separately, then turned in, hiding all the raw seams. But this was practice, and I just wanted to get it done and get an idea of the results, so I didn't worry about it. I would like to make one larger, and I may use that technique.

This was really easy, I bet it took hour? If that, and that included walking back to double check the steps, and tinkering with tabs...and bent needles. You could easily whip up a few in an afternoon out of leftover scraps or a few fat quarters. I think they'd make great gifts - filled with bath goodies, candies, or lotions. For toting matchbox cars or polly pocket/barbie odds and ends. So go ahead and make 10 of them. And then send me a link when you do!


Our trip...was fantastic.

Mind you, the reason for it is not what I would have chosen.... And it did rain darn near the entire trip. But we had the BEST time.

Our travel went about as well as we could have hoped for. We did have one quicker than expected layover in Chicago on the way out. We had *planned* to get to the gate, grab a quick lunch and breathe before our next flight.


By the time we got off the first flight, across the entire stinkin' airport, and to our gate, they were already pre-boarding. So we did a quick tag team bathroom break while the other stood in line, grabbed some sugar (coke for me, skittles for the boy) and got right back on another plane.

Our only other glitch was we'd PROMISED Zach a hot dog on the ferry boat ride. (Martha's Vineyard is an island, and so you have to take a 45 minute ferry boat to get there) All afternoon "If you're really good, we'll get you your own hot dog on the ferry boat" And good he was!

We got on the boat, and headed off in search of the food counter. Finding none. Ok, wait....its not THAT long since I've been out, I KNOW they serve food on the ferry. Know this. Positive. And you can't exactly get lost on a boat, so after a couple trips up one set of stairs and down another, I realized something was up. And after checking with one of the steamship authority workers, who confirmed that there were only vending machines on that vessel....I realized we were on the freight ferry. Ah.

The good news is we were on a ferry, as our main concern was missing the last boat of the evening. The bad news, we were not on either of the regular boats, that serve worn out, hungry little boys who've had nothing but orange juice, half an egg, skittles, and a quaker granola bar ALL. DAY. (read: sugar.)

The good news was that same steamship authority worker was kind enough to snag a few individual boxes of cereal for Zach to choose from. Frosted mini wheats were much more appetizing than vending machine fare. In spite of that, the poor boy was in tears 10 minutes later. Frosted mini wheats only go so far when you've been promised a hot dog all day, and you've been traveling for 10 hours, and the boats horn scared the daylights out of you, and you're plain wiped out and excited to get to Nana's already!

(we'll leave out the part where the 5 minute trip to Nana's took me 45 minutes because I drove us up island before calling my dad - who was still in California - for directions. In my defense, there was a miscommunication in directions.)

The end result, we got to Nana's! (with turkey sandwiches waiting, which were much appreciated by all 3 of us)

Thursday was collecting Papou and Yaya from the boat, and welcoming the rest of the family members coming in town - some of which I haven't seen since I was....10 or 12? Friday was the service, and it was wonderful. Quite a few people spoke and shared stories, his granddaughter sang...and oh my word...she sang beautifully. That night we had dinner at my cousin's house (her home is beautiful. I finally figured out what struck me most about it, was that it was only built a few years ago, but it doesn't scream "new construction". Its placement on the lot, the colors and flow, all seem so natural that it feels like a house that's been there for 80 years)

Zach got to play with my cousins boys - who are 10 and 12 and could have easily decided they were too cool to hang around with a 4 year old - and they were so great with him. He had a blast and I was so impressed with how obliging they were with him.

Saturday we spent most of the day in Oak Bluffs. It was Tivoli Day (unbeknownst to us) and so we walked the streets where all the vendors had set up shop, did some shopping, ate lunch down by the boats, and Zach and Eddie stopped for ice cream.

Saturday night we went to my aunt & uncle's for dinner. My dad's cousins made a spaghetti dinner you'd have to see to appreciate. The best part was they made my Uncle Theo's sauce. Uncle Theo was really my dad's uncle, and he passed away a few years ago. The last time I had Uncle Theo's sauce, Uncle Theo was the one who made it. It was probably....10 years ago. But it was in the same house, and I can still remember him sitting at the counter with a bowl of little chili peppers (he made a regular sauce, and a SPICY sauce). It was just kind of neat to have his kids making 'his' sauce years later, in the same house I last had it.

Sunday...we had leftover spaghetti :)

I also made a stop at Island Alpaca. Its just down the street from where were stayed, so I pretty much stalked the place until I finally got a chance to stop. Its a really neat place. You park your car, and then walk past the pasture to the barn/store. As you go there are signs with information along the way. Then through the barn, and into the store. The store is really amazing because its not just yarn for sale. (Mind you, there IS yarn for sale!!) But there are also hand knits using the alpaca yarn (knit by locals), wraps, socks, the SOFTEST "stuffed animals", throws, goes on.

I picked up a pound of the most amazing roving. Its a beautiful silver-gray, with some darker variations in it. I can't wait until its all spun. (which...shouldn't be long. this stuff is so amazing I think I'd rather spin than sleep.)

I also got a couple handkerchiefs, and a neat vintage camera, and my new favorite refrigerator magnet. Plus, the obligatory "Martha's vineyard" sweatshirt and coffee cup. (I'm a sucker for both, what can I say)

Best of all, we got to spend an amazing time with family. (with the food being a close second...holy cow was it good) It was great to get back and see everyone, and catch up, and just spend time. I love it there, and I'd move in a heartbeat if I could. Don't get me wrong, I love it here too. But the ocean, and the landscape, and the pine trees, and the COLORS. Being there makes me feel like I could sit on the ground and be content to never get up. One of my biggest regrets is I didn't get more pictures.

I also missed going to the Kara Taylor Gallery, which I'm kicking myself over. It was one of the first things I wanted to do, and it got lost in the shuffle the first couple days and then didn't work out. I love what she does and wanted to see the newer stuff. time.

At any rate, it was a great trip, we were sad to leave - its not every day Papou & Yaya are across the hall when you get up.

But, we made it back home safely. ...minus one debit card. Eddie left his in Fairhaven, MA. This was not 3 hours after he 'lost' his wallet (in the car) So Monday was not the day to leave Eddie in charge of things like boarding passes. ;) Luckily, we had mine, and they expired this month anyway, our new ones came in the mail while we were gone.

So....back to laundry, and work, and driving along The Big Muddy Mississippi instead of The Atlantic. C'est la vie. :)

Monday, September 8, 2008


This past week I got the call ( that I've been half expecting - and dreading - for a while now. My grandpa Robbie had passed away Monday evening.

Robbie was not my "biological" grandfather, but you'd never have known the difference. My Papou passed away when I was only two and, unfortunately, I have no real memory of him outside of pictures. While I've always loved my Papou and wished I'd have had a chance to know him, I was lucky enough to have someone like Robbie take on that role.

(I've always called him Robbie, for no other reason than it just fit. 'Grandpa Robbie' always felt redundant, it was just a given and I didn't need 'grandpa' tagged on. I've never called any of my grandparents "grandma" or "grandpa" and 'Robbie' just became his title as well as his name.)

I've always had memories of Robbie that were the first to come to mind when I thought of him. I've been surprised over the last week at all the things I'd 'forgotten'. Of course I didn't forget them, but it seemed like one memory pulled up another, which pulled up another. I was amazed at all of the little things I remember.

He was just so....JOVIAL. I just always remember him smiling, and telling jokes, and laughing. Everytime I picture him in my head, he's smiling. He had a way of being silly with us without being over the top.

Growing up, my brother and I visited my dad's family out east every summer, and every year, we'd talk to Nana and Robbie before we'd leave. Every time, he'd tell us that he'd been out to check the temperature of the pool, to make sure it was warm enough and ready for us. When we'd get there, we'd go out to check the pool thermometer. It was such a small thing, but it became a ritual I almost expected.

I think of him every time I eat a hamburger. I remember one summer when I was probably...10? I was with him out on the deck, while he grilled hamburgers for dinner that night. Out of nowhere he told me the hamburgers wouldn't cook right if we didn't dance. "You have to dance sarahlee, or they'll be ruined!", with faux-urgency in his voice, and started humming and dancing in front of the grill. And he was right, worked like a charm.

He always called me Sarahlee. Always. Sarahlee and Charlie Brown (my brother, Aaron). I don't know that he ever used our actual names :) Whenever I'd walk into the den "heyyyyy sarahlee!"

He used a cane and I can remember him aiming it and making machine gun noises with it. I can remember sitting on his lap, and how he chewed Wrigley's spearmint gum, and putting pennies in an antique golfing 'piggy bank' he had, going to the 4th of July parade, the time I went golfing with him ("golfing" used loosely when referring to myself), and how he had away of putting excitement into everyday.

The last time I got to see Robbie was 4 years ago. On one hand, I'm sad I didn't get a chance to see him again, and for Zach to meet him. On the other hand, time had taken its toll on him, he'd had strokes over the years that had gradually worn him down. The last couple of years were not his best. I'm glad that when I think of him, I think of him dancing in front of a grill and laughing with a 'hoo-hoo' that he did sometimes. I don't think of him as a frail body that had had enough.

We're flying out for the service, and while I wish the circumstances were different, I am looking forward to the trip. Its been 4 years since Eddie & I were out east and I miss it every day. Zach's never been to the beach (a sandy spot along the Mississippi river is NOT the same!) so I intend to fix that. The weather may not be the most ideal, but I'll take it. We'll get to see Papou & Yaya, Zach gets to meet Nana (his great-grandmother) for the first time, along with aunts and uncles who we haven't seen in 3 or 4 years. We'll only have a few days, but I intend to make the most of them! (I'm hoping to acquire coffee syrup, local yarn, and possibly a bit of beach glass.)

On that note, I should be packing, and getting haircuts, and finishing the last minute plans. (Like, how we're getting OFF the island...lesson learned...make sure you check the right dates for the ferry schedule...) I better go do that, huh?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Eat Me - The Long Awaited Granola Recipe

**once again, I appologize for the lack of spacing in this post. I...don't get it.

Phew! I just spent 10 minutes looking for the darn index card, only to discover it was right here in front of me, where I'd left it....go figure.

First I'll give you the origins of my granola recipe, its from Alton Brown -
AB's Granola -
3c. rolled oats
1c. slivered almonds
1c cashews
3/4c. sweet shredded coconut
1/4c. + 2tbs. dark brown sugar
1/4c. + 2tbs maple syrup
1/4c. vegetable oil
3/4tsp. salt
1c. raisins
First time I made this, I left out the cashews (I don't much care for them) and it was good. But each time I've made it since then, I've tweaked and added and changed. To be honest, I don't think I've ever made the same version twice yet.
But the latest - which I think was my favorite yet - is below. (keep in mind its about a double batch compared to the one above)
Sarah's version:
6 1/2 - 7 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. sliced almonds (or slivered, or chopped, or whathaveyou)
2 c. chopped pecans
1 1/2c shredded coconut (plus a pinch or so usually)
3/4 c dark brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup (I use the real maple syrup)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. - 2 c. golden (yellow) raisins
and when I have them a couple of handfuls of dried cranberries.
2 bowls, 2 cookie sheets, one gallon size baggie to store it all in.
*keep in mind, a lot of this is 'eyeballed' at this point. I sometimes add a few TBS of oats, or another handful of almonds depending on what I feel like. But you'll want your mixture to be 'moist' but not soggy or clumping together.
Oh you want directions? That I can do!
Preheat oven to 250. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut and brown sugar. In your second bowl, mix the maple syrup, oil, and salt. Drizzle that over the first bowl's contents and then mix to your heart's content. I've found hands works best.
Divide that between the two cookie sheets (I've found that if you make a circular 'hula hoop' motion with the cookie sheet, it all evens out quite nicely) Stick them in the oven and bake for 1hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half. Stir every 15 minutes. I also rotate my cookie sheets 2 or 3 times but that's because my oven is funny. If your oven isn't dumb, you can probably skip that part. Remove from oven, let it cool a bit, and then add in your raisins/cranberries/dried fruit of your choosing.
The great thing about this is, you can add/omit any nuts or dried fruit of your liking. You can increase or decrease the sweetness by tinkering with the brown sugar/syrup. And there are really a zillion granola versions out there. ...and its really tasty. ...and there are no preservatives or funny ingredients. even more tasty.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How Did We Go...

from this:
to this:
so. darn. fast?

Happy Birthday baby boy!

(I can call him baby boy on my blog, because he can't hear me, and tell me I'm not allowed to call him 'baby' because he is not a baby.....he is a big boy.) And he's right, and when the HECK did that happen? When did my pudgy baby with his 'gi-gi', turn into a 4 year old KID. Who is now sitting on my lap taking my breakfast order, and cooking it on the desk in front of me, while cautioning me that they're still hot and to be careful.

I swear every birthday hits me in the gut just a little bit harder. And not necessarily in a sad way (though yes, going through pictures and finding the bitty baby pictures about does me in) but the HOW? HOW are we here already? HOW is it possible that you're 4 years old. A boy, with favorites, and talents, and opinions of your own. (Like insisting on wearing shorts this morning, even though its 63 degrees and raining.)

Do you feel a photo heavy post coming? I sure do...