Monday, September 20, 2010

Finally Done!!!

These three lovely bags were made for a dear friend of mine. Little did she know that it would take me the entire summer to finish them when she gave me the fabric in May!. The heat, the kids, the camp schedule, the heat again.....need I say more.

Anyways, the bags are based on my "backsack" bag I sell in my Etsy shop. It's a drawstring closure for the most part. I added a button to the third bag because I made it wider and a little shorter in height.

The fabric was provided by my friend and it was pre-quilted with a backing. So I had to figure out how to handle the pockets and unfinished edges. I treated it like a quilt and put a binding on all those edges.

I varied the shape and size of the pockets too. Now to make more for the shop!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My New Model

Here's my new model- Miss Gracie.
I made her a "buttercup" bag and she insisted on modeling it.

Miss Gracie says you will be seeing more of her on this blog since she has an exclusive contract with me, her mom.

By the way, if you like the bag you can get the pattern here. So far I have made two of these. Maybe I'll get to make one for myself one day!

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Healthy Banana Bread/Muffins

I have been baking banana bread since I was around 10 years old. We always had tons of bananas around since my dad drove a delivery truck for a local banana distributor and would always bring home bags of them. It wasn't a very exciting job until he told me stories of how once in a while the bananas came in with tarantulas in the boxes!

My recipe for banana bread has evolved quite a bit since those early days with mom and dad. It seems every time I make it I add something new. Lately I have been sticking to the following recipe where I have tried to make it a little more healthy by adding some whole wheat flour and flax seed. It is one of the few things my son will eat that I bake so I love to pack it with nutritious ingredients. I also use this recipe to make muffins which are great to pack for a snack for work or school.

Healthier Banana Bread/Muffins
makes 2 loaves or 1 loaf and a dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs,beaten
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 large mashed bananas
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 TBLS. ground flax seed
1 cup oats (old fashioned or quick)
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350.
  • Combine sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add eggs, vanilla and bananas, stir well.
  • Sift together both flours, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Add to banana mixture and stir well.
  • Now add flax seed, oats, coconut, raisins, cranberries, nuts & chocolate chips to the mixture
  • and stir until combined.
  • Spray loaf pans with non- stick spray such as PAM and/or line muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Fill baking pans and bake muffins for approximately 20 minutes and loaves for 45 to 55 minutes, until tester (toothpick) comes out clean.
  • Cool on rack for 5 mintues and then remove from pans and place on rack to cool completely.

Hope you get a chance to try it. Have a great day!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I don't know about you but I love blowing bubbles and so do my kids. My daughter loves it when I do the bubble blowing and she gets to catch them.
She did become the little actress when we decided to take pictures.

We had lots of hot and humid days on Long Island this summer. Those are the best for bubbles. If it is too dry the bubbles pop quickly.

As the last days of summer vacation go by have some fun doing something fun and free!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Homemade Birthday Gift

Last month one of my daughter's friends celebrated her 6th birthday. I wanted to give her something special this year as a gift. I know they all love their toys and clothes are not high on the list. But this little friend loves "fashion" so I took the plunge and made this cute dress and handbag outfit.
The handbag pattern was from a fellow blogger It's called the buttercup bag. Very cute and easy to make. If you like it you can download the pattern here.

The dress is my version of a "pillowcase" dress. Instead of using a pillowcase I used 44/45 width cotton fabric. Took one of my daughters dresses for a length measurement. Cut straight across the fabric (folded selvage to selvage) the length I needed. Then I cut in from selvage up the length of fabric on an angle to give the dress some shape. (I followed the angle of one of her dresses again) And lastly I cut "J" shapes on either side of the top edge for the armholes.
The armholes were fine for size but I was trying to think of an easy way to hem the edges. I decided to just turn the fabric over twice - about "1/4 each time- and stitch it in place. I did clip the curves a bit on the first turn. Then I turn under the top edge (twice- 1/4" then 3/4") for a casing for the drawstring.

I did the side seams as french seams. Meaning I stitched the dress together wrong sides together first, turned and stitched again with right sides together. This leaves no raw edges.

Then I made the drawstring - 1 1/2 strips - 44/45"of a contrasting fabric cut 2" wide, ironed 1/2" edge down into center on both long and short sides, then folded together, ironed and top stitched.

The ruffle length was cut approximately 2 1/2 times the wide of the dress which was 44/45". So that was about 110" and the height of the strip was 4 1/2". I stitched the strips together, then I turned down one long edge 1/4" twice, then top stitched. Now you can "ruffle" the strip by your preferred method - I like to run a long stitch across the edge and pull the threads. Then I attach it to the dress spreading the ruffles evenly. And lastly I overlapped the seam with a zigzag stitch.

Hope this inspires you to create your own homemade gift for someone special!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Working with Laminates

Has anyone tried the new laminates that are out there? The Amy Butler ones are gorgeous! I made this large Metro backpack for one of my customers on I even lined it with a laminate- customer's idea. I don't know which was prettier - the lining or the outer laminate.

Sewing these laminates was pretty easy except for the urge to pin and iron- you cannot do either very well. Finger pressing worked pretty well and a press cloth on the wrong side with a dry iron also worked. As for the pin problem, I used paper clips. As long as you had the right sides together, the back of the laminate is cotton, the paper clips slide on easily. I also just used my regular walking foot on my sewing machine. A friend suggested a "teflon" foot- but I did not find it necessary.

Can't wait to make some more things. Have you made something from the laminates? I would love to hear about it. You can also go to Oilcloth Addict and find some great patterns. The laminates are similar in "touch & feel" but are vinyl coated cotton. They are great for lunch totes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

My fellow blogger at Discovery the Me in Mommy has been kind and sent me this award. Now it is my turn to tell you 7 things about me and pass on the award to other bloggers. I must admit that listing 7 things about my self was not easy but here it goes:

  1. I live in a house that is 106 years old.
  2. I speak a second language - Ukrainian- but not very well at this point in my life.
  3. I love to sit at the beach and read a good book. Right now I'm reading "Eat, Pray, Love".
  4. I always wanted to be a professional photographer.
  5. I took piano lessons for 10 years when I was a child- not that I can play now.
  6. I own a cat named ZuZu named after "ZuZu's Petals" from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" not the mechanical hamster toys.
  7. Ice Cream is my favorite dessert. I don't really have a favorite flavor- I love them all and that's probably why I'll never be thin!
And now the award goes to:


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Easy Fruit Tart

Has your summer been super hot? Does the thought of turning on your oven make you melt? When it's hot like it has been this summer I usually have no desire to cook or bake -even though I love to do both.

But sometimes you need to have a dessert for that barbecue/party and you want it to be special. You could go the ice pop/ice cream route - definitely easy and no turning on the oven. Unfortunately that is not me. If there are to be adults at a party I want to give them a real dessert. One of my favorites is a fruit tart. The only baking required is the shortbread shell- 25 minutes in the oven and it's done!

After that all you have to do is add the filing- cream cheese and fruit.

I hope you are staying cool and having a great weekend. If you need that quick dessert, here's the recipe:

Easy Fruit Tart


1/2 cup confectioner sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes


1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

zest of one orange


Strawberries, blueberries, etc. – whatever you like

2 to 3 TBLS. Apricot jam/preserves

Preheat oven to 350.

Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until dough forms a ball. Remove and place in a tart pan, pressing against bottom and sides. Prick with a fork and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.

Make Filling by beating softened cream cheese with sugar, vanilla and orange zest until smooth. Spread onto cooled crust.

Top with fruit.

Heat apricot jam and spread on top of fruit as a glaze.

Chill before serving.

Note: you can substitute instant vanilla pudding for the filling. Prepare according to package directions and just add the orange zest.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Workshop at Rosie's Handmade Revolution

Well, it has been ages since I last posted anything on this blog. As my mother used to say "long time no see". My excuse is simple- busy and tired!

May and June were full of a ton events at my children's schools. If you have kids, you know what those last weeks of school can be like. July brought vacation in South Carolina and Virginia. Then we were off to camps and swimming lessons. This week has been slower, but then my son came down with a summer cold/flu. So here I am at home trying to catch up on all my postings on Facebook and finally doing my blog!

In the last three months of madness I managed to produce a bunch of coasters for teachers gifts. No picture. I think you've seen enough of them. I did make two sets of hooded towels with coordinating bodysuits, bib and burp cloths.

If you like these and are interested in doing a workshop to make them, then you are in luck. Amy from Rosie's Handmade Revolution in Bellport, NY (here on Long Island) has asked me to do a workshop on August 19th, 7:00 pm at her shop. If it sounds like something you would like to do give Amy a call at 631-803-8029. Amy's shop sells all sorts of handmade items from sellers like me. So check out Rosie's Handmade Revolution on facebook and here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

More Coasters

A friend of mine's birthday came up very quickly this year and I wanted to give her something handmade. She's a fellow quilter and I knew she would appreciate something made by me. But the problem was time- not much of it on top of my kids' crazy schedules. So I whipped up a bunch of cute "cat" coasters. Made 6 in no time. Added a jar of my homemade strawberry jam and it was a done deal! Love the coasters, they are a fast and fabulous gift to give.

If you have any great quick handmade gift ideas I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Umbrella Girls

Well it is spring and I am finally getting some spring cleaning done. One room that was need of some help this year was the old nursery that my daughter Grace moved out of last fall. With all the school stuff and holidays I never got a chance to do anything to this room until the other day. I took down the baby quilt and hung up my first applique (and only applique) quilt I made many moons ago. (Yes I did forget to put a quilt label on it and I'm am totally mystified as to when I exactly finished this quilt- lesson learned - always label!)So this tiny 8' x 9' room will become a sort of office. At this point the desk is there and my quilt is up. No chair yet or printer or office supply stuff. I'm getting there. Maybe by the next season- summer. For now I am happy to just look at my "Umbrella Girls".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Camera Strap

Here's my new camera strap that I made for my new camera. I have been eyeing these straps that several shops sell on Etsy and I had to make one. There's a great tutorial for it on SewCute Shop. I used Moda's Neptune fabric from a jelly roll I recently bought at a quilt show. The tutorial calls for 3" x 24" strips of fabric but my strips were pre-cut at 2 1/2". It worked. I just had to use a scant 1/4" seam and I topstitched very close to the edge.

Thanks SewCute Shop for the great tutorial. You should check it out. There are other fun tutorials as well on her site. I plan to make the headbands next. Check it out.

Have a great day and make something!

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Design- The Metro Backsack

In the last month or so I have had very little time to sew. I sketched out a design for a new backpack and cut the fabric back in early March. Well this week I finally got to make it. And here it is- the Metro Backsack.
I changed up the opening and back straps from the "metro backpack" I currently sell in my shop on Etsy. I incorporated the the back straps into the top closure. To close the backsack you simply pull on the back straps. You can adjust the length of the back straps by knotting the ends of the back straps that hang in the front.

I also placed a pocket in the front. I think the next one I make I will add a zippered pocket in the back as well. Outside pockets are a must.

I'm in love with this new design. I hope to make some soon to sell in the shop.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Strawberry Jam

Soon it will be strawberry picking season here in the northeast. I thought I would get a jump start on things and pick my strawberries at the store and make some jam to give away as gifts for Easter. It is very easy. I have been watching my favorite show on FoodTV- the Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten (I worship her)- she has the best recipes. One for strawberries with some blueberries and one that just uses strawberries. I did a combination of the two using the blueberries, apples and lemon juice. The basic strawberry recipe has great tips for knowing when your jam is ready. You need to get the jam up to 220 in temperature but, if you don't have a candy thermometer to tell you that you can just put a plate in the freezer- get it real cold- then put a bit of the hot jam on it and run your finger though the middle. If the jam stays put and doesn't run back together- it's ready!

I liked doing the plate method better than the thermometer. Last time I made this jam I thought I cooked it too long trying to get the temperature up to 220 and my jam looked very dark in color. I like a deep crimson red for the jam. This was something my mom was always striving for. She never used a thermometer or the cold plate. Her jams were good but never consistent in color.

I hope this inspires you to try to make some jam. It really is easy and it tastes great!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Spring!

Hope Spring in your area of world is treating you well this holiday weekend. I love Spring with all the trees and plants coming back to life. The color is so wonderful after a long and snowy winter. I also love Spring because my birthday is in late March. This year my wonderful husband bought me a new SLR camera (Nikon D5000) that I have been wanting. You see photography was my thing for a very long time. My Dad bought me my first SLR (Olympus OM-1) when I was fifteen and it was the one I used until 5 years ago when I got my digital "point and shoot" camera. It was an Olympus as well but it was a simple "view finder" and it never got the richness that I was used to in a shot. Every time I uploaded a picture of one of my projects to this blog I was disappointed. My projects looked so blah! Well now I hope you can see the difference. I went out and took a few pictures of my spring garden. I started with the Daffodils....

Love the new camera! Now I have to get started on all my sewing projects so I can take a picture of them with my new camera and share them with you. I just have to get the kids off to school next week. Love them but Spring break seemed to last forever this year!

Here's to Spring and great holiday weekend.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Well, the weather has finally perked up here in the north east. 70's in March! The great sunshine has given me a bit of a boost in energy and I'm actually doing another post within two weeks of my last one.
When I made those great place mats I had some leftover fabric from the backing. It was such a small amount that I knew that there wasn't much I could use it for. I had an idea. I had been seeing these cute coasters selling on Etsy and thought that well, I could make some too!
You can make these as well. All you need is a strip of fabric about 5" wide and 40" long. Cut 8 5" squares. Cut 4 5" squares of interfacing. I used a fusible fleece. Fuse the interfacing to one wrong side of 4 squares. Layer up the pieces- wrong sides together. Sew around leaving a small opening on one side for turning. Turn, iron and stitch around the outside edges. This will close the opening and add a nice finish. Done!

Enjoy. I think this was one the easiest and quickest projects I've done in a long time. Sew up a bunch and give them out as gifts to all your friends. They make a cute gift with a set of mugs and some coffee/tea and biscuits.

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I have to apologize for being such a lazy blogger. Mind you I have the best of intentions but for some reason my ideas and thoughts never make it to this blog except for once a month - if I'm lucky. There are so many of you out there that do such a great job posting all the wonderful and fun things you are creating. I wish I could be you, but there's no changing me. I'm a procrastinator at heart and having two kids that keep me constantly busy - even when they are not home - just side tracks me even more.

That being said, I am finally posting these great place-mats I originally made for a gift but decided that my patio table needed them more.

Each place-mat is different with respect to the fabric placement. This one is my favorite combination.

The pattern is so easy! It takes 4 different fat quarters plus 1 yard of fabric for backing and 1 yard of fusible interfacing. I like to use a fleece one.

Layer the fat quarters on top of each other. Measure and mark 5" in from the top left and 3 3/4" from the lower right. Align your ruler with the marks and cut diagonally through all layers. Take one of the pieces from the top of one stack and put it on the bottom so that each layer now has two different fabrics. Sew these two different fabric together for each layer. Press seams open and re-stack layers with the seams roughly on top of each other and aligned.

Now measure and mark 2 1/4" in from the bottom left corner and 3 1/4" in from the upper right corner. Align ruler with marks and cut diagonally through all the layers. Shuffle pieces by taking the right top 2 layers and placing them on the bottom of the pile, making sure that each layer now has all 4 fabrics. Sew to make new rectangles. I try to align the center seams but it doesn't always work out that way.

Once you finish sewing, press the seams open. At this point you can cut the rectangles down to whatever size you prefer for a place-mat. Cut the backing and interfacing to match in size. Fuse the interfacing to the pieced top of the place-mat, layer the backing, sew all around leaving a 5" opening for turning. Turn, press and top stitch as you desire. I use a decorative stitch along the seam lines.

I hope these directions are easy to follow. Once again, if I was a good blogger I would have taken some pictures of these place-mats in progress to help you along. I'm striving for that for my next little tutorial. Wish me luck. I need lots of it these days.

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spinach Roll

I think it is time for another recipe. I had been making this yummy spinach roll as an appetizer and bringing it to parties throughout the holiday season. It's very simple and has lots of flavor from the fresh herbs and feta cheese. I used to make it from refrigerated crescent dough but I discovered that frozen puff pastry works a lot better - no little triangles to try and pinch together to make one large rectangle! I got a few requests for the recipe so here it is finally.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (it takes about 40 minutes to thaw on the counter)
1 TBLS Olive Oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 10 ounce pkge frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley
1 TBLS chopped fresh dill
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small jar marinated artichokes, slightly chopped
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Heat a medium skillet and coat with olive oil. Add the chopped onions and red pepper and saute until softened. Turn off heat.

2. In a medium bowl mix together thawed spinach, parsley, dill, feta, and mozzarella. Add the onion and red pepper mixture and chopped artichokes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Lightly flour puff pastry and roll with a rolling pin to flatten seams.

4. Brush pastry with beaten egg. Then with a sharp paring knife make cuts approx. 1" wide, 1/3rd of the way into the pastry dough on the long edge. Do this on both sides. Then place spinach mixture in the center of the pastry dough (uncut area). Flatten slightly with the back of a spatula making sure mixture extends the length of the dough but not onto the cut strips.

5. Bring cut strips of dough across the top of the spinach to the center and connect them together. (the egg wash will help them stick together) Sometimes I twist the strips as I bring them over the spinach. In the picture above I did not do that.

6. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Teeny Tiny Doll Quilt

It's be ages since I posted a thing and that's because it's be ages since I did much more than get my kids to school, clean the house, shop (X-mas is a killer for me because both kids and my husband have their birthdays around the holidays!), picked the kids up from school, go to Daisies, go to dance, playdates......I could go on more but there is a real post I would like to do.

Well back in the late summer I started a tiny doll quilt for my daughter which I finally finished around Thanksgiving. And now in January I am finally posting it. A nice simple nine patch with some machine appliques. Who would have thought it would take me so long.

I am always amazed at the women who blog and do it everyday and post amazing stuff. I wish I had the time and energy for that. I want to know their secret!!!

I do have motivation for the new year. So be on the lookout for more blogs. I know you probably don't believe me but I think I can redeem myself. Have a great day