Friday, January 29, 2010

Wrote a song about it, wanna hear it? here it goes....

I don't know why I have been thinking about this David Allen Grier character for a while, maybe it is reloctating to the Blues area or America.

But anyway, It's Friday. Kev works from home on Friday, and both girls are in usually in school in the morning, so it is quiet time. However, today there was no school because we have been hit with a wintery mix (cold rain with some slush). So we are all at home chilling. Kev is still unpacking the office, Rena is playing cars in her room, and Evie is in her "art studio", which is the sunroom that has been overtaken with the girls craft supplies and some toys.

Evie was all sorts of upset today when there was no school. Mainly because she just got her new Bento Box last night for lunch.

During the week, I can only really sew at night, after the girls are in bed. OK, so here I sew a bit on Monday and Weds and Friday mornings if I don't have errands and both girls are in school. It is a little piece of heaven to be able to go to the grocery store by myself. Anyway, this week I did a few little projects, the first being last night when we got Evie's Bento Box. I made napkins from some scraps.

This is Evie's BentoBox from laptop lunches. For the past few weeks, I have been trying to make reusable snack bags to go into the lunch bag I had made her. I have been making sandwich wraps for a bit, and thought it would be great to be able to pack a lunch that was less wastefull and saved money (baggies are expensive, and when they go in school lunches they end up in the trash) soooo.... after finding out that reusable snack bags are cute and good for occasional use (I'll still use them for Rena's snack) They are a complete pain to clean, and sometimes things get crushed. A friend from the mommy board I am on suggested laptop lunches. Evie picked out the flower one, and the set came with everything you see (except the napkins, which I made) for $40. I used the code ideal55 for 20% off.
The napkins are just 2 12 1/2 inch squares sewn together. I made about 8 last night just because I love using up my scraps!

Here is a table runner I made for my sister in law. She changes her decor often and for each holiday, so I have made her a few runners for her buffet or dining room table. This is from a kit my mother in law bought me last year from The Quilting Squares Quilt shop in Franklin, TN, where we lived at the time. If you are ever in the area, it is the best shop ever! Seriously, They have a dollar fat quarter bin that is always full, and a clearance area. This kit was 50% off because it was after Valentines Day. Plus the ladies there are awesome. Can you tell I miss the shop? It was my second home when we lived there!

This isn't the best pic, but I made a charm school bag from keykalou designs.  I love her patterns, my favorite of hers though is still the lots of pockets.  The fabric came from my friend Chris, who a few months ago sent me a huge surprise package of fabric she had. Some of them are huge pieces, some fat quarters, but nothing was smaller than a fat quarter! Some was her grandmothes, some she had bought for projects and never got around to using. This fabric she had the most of, over a yard in pieces. I like how the bag came out! It was a project for my mommyboard, they have a fit club and us crafters donate prizes for the winners.

I am also working on another table runner, I hope to be able to post it next Friday!

Sew, what is on your cutting table?

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


My great grandmother, yiayia Evangalia Orphanon, (jusy yiayia to me) passed this time last year. Growing up, we lived upstairs from her, in the house that my grandmother grew up in. Even back then in the 80's, Chartiers Street in Canonsburg was mostly Greek. A few homes on the street had been sold to non Greeks,  but Adams, Blaine (where the Greek church was until the 90's) and Chartiers was mostly Greek. There was Parkee's Store, where you would run and buy candy or a slushie when you got your allowance, and Loution's grocery, where you were sent for eggs or meat or whatever was needed.
In the house, which was split into two apartments, things were tight upstairs, and yia didn't like to be alone, so I slept down with her, and ended up spending a lot of time downstairs. I would come home from school most days and have a glass of orange juice (tropicana, only OJ she ever bought) and some koulouthia while she sat and had coffee with one of the ladies on the street, who would come and visit and jabber away. I would sit and do my homework at the other end of the table, while the ladies clucked away in Greek. She loved company. She loved feeding people.
Her kitchen was teeny tiny, almost an afterthought in the house. She had jars of dried herbs from her garden all over, including my favorite, the mint jar. When I was sick she would make me Camomile tea that she grew, and add a piece of dried mint. It always smelled of baking bread, she made prosphora often, and made her own bread for the house at least one a week. The only bread outside hers that she would allow in the house is sliced Celone's for sandwiches.
I loved baking with her, and learned most of what I know about cooking from her in those years we lived above her. All I need to think of that time is smell koulouthia baking, and I can see her small kitchen, her aluminum kitchen table with the enamel top, where we would sit and roll the cookies. I can walk through her house, even though it is not there anymore. The smell is magical.
Needless to say, I love making them with my girls. They only met yiayia Orphanon in a nursing home, and with Dementia. Evie only knew she was named for her. At that point she didn't remember english, and didn't really talk at all. I wish they could have met the yiayia I knew. I also wish we lived closer to family so they would have more memories of family. But I know the memories they do have are wonderful.

So today, being in the mood I'm in, Rena and I set out to make koulourakia, and since some have asked, I will share my yia's recipe :) I put it in my instructions, she mixed in a bowl with her hands, I use my kitchenaid.



3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup butter flavor crisco (she used reg crisco, I use the butter flavor)
1/2 cup veg oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup TROPICANA orange juice
3 big teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 pound bag of flour

sesame seeds if you like
1 beaten egg for egg wash on top

In a bowl beat the 3 eggs, add sugar. set aside. In mixer, mix butter, Crisco and Oil togther, then add egg mix, vanilla, and OJ. Then baking powder and soda. Slowly add flour. You will need the whole 2 lb bag, but might need a little more. dough should be tacky but not sticky. If it is sticky, add more in 1/4 cup incriments. I have never had to add more than 1/2 cup though. If you want, you can add a little nutmeg and cinnamon.
Roll your cookies, place on metal GREASED cookie sheet. Brush with eggwash.

cook at 350 for about 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Most importantly, don't let your 3 year old eat all the dough! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


So, for Februarys guild meeting, we are to bring something from our sewing room to share, a tool we use or something we find indesposable.

I have been thinking about this for the past few days, and I have only been quilting about 3 years, though I have sewn my whole life, I feel like I have only really gotten into it the past 5. If I ever met Doctor Who and was offered a ride in the TARDIS, I would ask him to take me and leave me with my grandma and great grandma in 1985 so I could make sure my little self listened and learned all I could when I could. But back to the point, I haven't been at it as long as a lot of the other ladies, so I don't have anything brilliant to share. But I do have a box and jar of items i keep going back to, if anything often for inspiration.

The cigar box belonged to my Aunt Despina, who sewed and knit. The cigar box came from Uncle Sammie, who smoked stogies. Whenever I think of them, I think of Red Pop. When we would go over to visit as kids, she would always give us Cherokee Red Pop. But in the box, which my mom gave me after Aunt Despina passed, is a treasure trove of snaps, needles, and sewing knick knacks. I love this box. and her safety pin tin. When I use something of hers, like the beautiful mother of pearl snaps she bought (from Hills, which went out of business in the late 80's) I have her with me in my sewing room.

I love the box most. I swear I find new things everytime I search through it!

The next thing I always keep handy is the chalk wheel that was my grandma Arla's. I used to sew on her machine, which is now Agape's to learn on. It is a Singer from the 60's, the machine that will never die (my grandkids will probably inherit it one day!). Anyway, this chalk wheel is what I use constantly, to mark hems on stuff for the girls, to draw out patterns when quilting, you name it, this little thing comes in handy. Again, when I use it, I have Grandma in my sewing room. She taught me a lot about sewing, and in college I would go visit and she would let me use the machine to fix things and work on my creations.

I have 2 things from my great grandma Lissa, who was the one who really taught me the basics.

The first is this needle book. The needles in it were made in occupied Japan (as it says on the back) and are still in great condition, I use them to hand sew.

The next is what I will probably take with me.

Her button jar. Now, I had to replace the jar, I dropped and broke the original to my dismay. But this jar holds buttons that have been on items she wore, my dad and granddad, and even me. she was a resuser. You never knew when you would need a button. The jar is full of wonderful buttons. All colors, shapes and sizes. From all over the last century. When Evie was young, and now with Serena, we used to grab a handful and sort them in different ways. Both girls love the button jar. When I have a purse I make that needs "something", I can usually find it in the button jar. When I just need a little inspiration, I check the button jar. The idea for my mom's fruit quilt

came from a red platic button I found in the jar with fruit on it. I love my button jar. My great grandma passed when I was 18. We used to spend summers at her house on Keuka lake in Penn Yan, New York. She would make clothes for our dolls and taught us how to handstich. She would make homemade apple sauce that was divine. She had a "junk room" in her house that was the best playroom ever, had hats and dresses that Chrissy and I would play dress up in for hours. She had an amazingly interesting life, one I didn't understand what she went through until I was much older. But more than that, she was a creative soul. She liked photography, painted a little, knit and would sew. Kind of like me

So I think I am taking my button jar. It doesn't have a great trick I can perform with it, but it is mine, and my sewing heritage.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

great balls o'fabric!

So this morning Rena and I were playing with my scraps. We just moved to Mississippi, and are working on getting our house in order, and that means decorating too. On our dining room table I have a big white bowl as a center piece. Before kids I would fill it with candy or candles, depending on my mood. After having the girls it went away for a while, but now that they are older it is back. But I have been agonizing on what to fill it with. Rocks? na. fake lemons? na. would look good, but they are fake, and would cost about $15. Real fruit? eh. would need replaced, and Rena would probably take a bite out of every piece then put it back. Yesterday at Target I was looking at those ball things they have, but a set of 3 was $20, and well, I just am not ready to commit to $20 worth of ball things. Then I remembered the pattern I had printed out from Grand Revival Designs Blog (She is wonderful, her fabric is wonderful) for a fabric ball.  So with Rena's help, I fished out a few scraps and got to work. There are 3 different sizes to the pattern, and I used the small two, because the largest is huge.These took about an hour or so to do all, and they used scraps. I stuffed them with leftover quilt batting, so they are a little lumpy. But, to make them smelly, I dabbed a little piece of the batting into liquid potpouri (apple cinnamon) before I stuffed them. So they smell wonderful, and are a bit of my personality instead of just "decorate balls".

So here they are. I didn't put potpouri in the penn state or the green one. I am happy with it, I like that they are something I made, so they are definately "me", and also that I didn't spend any money, which appeals to my frugal nature (yeah, I'm a cheapskate, plus that $20 could better be spent on more fabric.

and here is my helper posing with the balls. Silliness.

this is what the fabric was left over from, a diaper bag I just finished last week for a friend.

Ah, now off for some playdough time with Rena. She wants to make "cookies"....

Lunch bags

So here is the tute for lunch bags. I made 2 different sizes and in 2 different ways to see how it works. Though I like the soft bag, an insulated bag makes more sense and keeps great shape. The small size is perfect for a preschool snack, the larger for an adult lunch.

So here it goes:


for small bag

10.5 by 8.5               2 each of lining and main fabric
6 by 4.5                    1 of lining and 1 of main for flap

large bag

14.5 by 12.5            2 each of lining and main
8.5 by 5.5                1 of lining 1 of main for flap

then use those pieces to cut out interfacing and insulate. don't forget to cut out handles if you are doing cloth handles, for the sample I used 1 inch belting.

first, take your ruler to the bottom corners and cut out 2 inch squares (2.5 for the large bag) at both sides.

then use the ruler to make a 45 degree angle on the flap, do both sides. make sure the flap is wider than it is longer! If you don't want to do this way, you can take a quarter and round the edges.

Here are your pieces so far. Iron on the interfacing to the MAIN fabric.

Then with quilt basting spray, you are going to attach the insulate to the lining.

like so. Trim so that there is no overhang from the insulate or interfacing.

center a 1 inch strip of sew in velcro about an inch or so from the edge. sew down. Pin and sew with right sides together the flap

Then you can topstich 1/8th inch around. the edge. Topstiching just makes everything look better.

take the other piece of velcro at the top edge of the front piece of main fabric and center it about an inch or so down, on the big bag I did about 2 inches.

sew the sides and bottom of the lining and main pieces

box your corners.

attach flap. I fold the flap in half finding center, then find center in the back of the bag, pin and sew. Sew at 1/8 inch, so when you sew the bag together you don't see that seam.

choose your handle length. I did short ones. Pin to main fabric, centering with the seam. Leave about an inch over, to reenforce.  sew at 1/8th inch.

Place the main fabric into the lining so right sides are together. pin carefully, especially at seams. Sew around, leaving at least a 4 inch opening in the fron to turn. Turn right side out.

Carefully topstich at 1/8th inch, closing the opening.

reenforce your handles. Trip your threads and you're done!