Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sewing while Sick...

might not have been the best idea I've ever had.

As I mentioned a few days ago, my sinuses are killing me... it's not an infection just a really bad virus/cold thing. But I was desperate for some relief (owing to the fact that asthma prevents me from taking most OTC drugs made for sinus congestion)

Then I remembered reading a great (and simple looking) tutorial for making a warm sinus pack. I swear I read it on The Magic Onions but I can't find it now (sorry). It's small, quick, useful and simple. Perfect! It also sounded like heaven for my sinuses.

I dug out the few small fabric scraps I have, and found a really nice fleecy soft fabric that I liked. (And in the process convinced myself this was going to be a piece of cake!)

See this- this is what happens when sewing tries to intimidate you. And make you think it's in charge instead of you.

Somehow all that thread that should have charged the bobbin is wrapped around the thingy (yes I'm totally up on my technical sewing terms) that the bobbin rests on.

Only I was so proud of myself for actually having got the spool to start winding thread to the bobbin (unlike the 4 or 5 times I tried before this) that I didn't notice the wasn't thread actually on the bobbin until I stopped.

After unwinding about a mile and a half of thread (and almost throwing in the towel then and there) me and my fevered, stuffy brain gave it one last try. And this time it worked!

Bobbin charged. Machine threaded- and I was ready to go.

Clear off the edge of the fabric that is.

I managed to get all the way down on side (it was pretty messy though).

And even managed to get the next two sides pretty straight.

Although I think I had more thread carnage leftovers than I actually sewed with.

I stuffed one half first- then sewed down the middle so it would fold over my nose easily. I don't understand why I had bits of thread sticking up at the end though?

Once I stuffed the other side I had to hand close the seam.

And in case you were wondering my hand sewing isn't any better than my machine techniques.

Ahh sweet relief!.

I loved this little thing- feels great on my sinuses, plus I added a little lavender so it's nice and soothing! I'm really proud of myself for actually sewing it (although it's a really small and about as basic as you can get). It did take me a ridiculously long amount of time to complete (about an hour), I could have hand sewn this in less time- but all that matters to me is that I used my machine!

I will admit that being sick it probably wasn't the best time to try even a small sewing project- but I sometimes you just have to jump in. And besides if I made it when I was well I wouldn't have had any excuse for it taking so long (and believe me it probably would have).

Anyway if your curious about what I put in it- here is another tutorial from The Magic Onions for an aromatherapy pillow- it's the same idea only smaller. I put this little sinus think in the micro for only 15 seconds.

And Thanks for everyones suggestions from my last post about what to sew. I keep changing my mind but for right now I think I'll try curtains. I'll let you know how that goes!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sewing: Perhaps the universe is telling me something?

Lately I've been thinking about my poor neglected sewing machine.

I really, really wanted one so a while ago (ok... fine "a while ago"might mean a few fine!... 4 years ago) I got a basic starter machine. I'm a little ashamed to say I've only used this machine exactly 4 times (in as many years). It's mostly been stuck in a corner exactly the way it was when I last used it, totally forgotten (Sad, I know).

When I got it there were big plans for that machine. New pillows for the couch (not these ones that came with it- but totally don't match anything else in the living room).

Curtain for the door

Curtain for the other door

Bags... lots and lots of handbags. Maybe a cute apron and some hems for all the too long pants I'm always needing to bring to the taylor.

And did I mention the handbags? Definitely. Handbags.

Problem was I forgot how intimidating sewing has always turned out to be for me. I had lots of fun when I would practice making straight lines by running paper and little scraps of fabric through my grandmother's machine. But as proved by the awful (very, very awful) ruffled pillow it took me half of 7th grade "home arts" class to make- when it comes to actual projects I get totally and completely freaked-out.

In proof of freak-out I present exhibit A -

The remnants of the one and only project I started, then abandoned with my new machine. It sort of began with a pattern, then it got a way from me and sort of went "free form". Quickly followed by the "oh crap how am I going to fix this" stage. Then I looked at it for a day or two at which point it went to the "let's pretend this never existed" pile. And that's where it (and the machine) have been ever since. 1 bad, half done project in 4 years... pretty pathtic!

(If I could find all the pieces of it I'd show it to you)

Funny thing though- ever since I've started thinking about my poor little castoff machine I started seeing things about learning to sew and how sewing machines work.

And I'm starting to think the universe is trying to tell me something...

  • First it was this sweet story from Laura and Katydiddys about teaching her daughter to sew. It brought back what a wonderful feeling it was to use my grandmothers machine when I was a little kid.

  • Then there were these great animations Tracey found and posted on her blog Chubby Mummy. I'd never really thought about how a sewing machine makes a stitch but it was really cool to see it.

  • And one day while looking at all the great ideas featured on one pretty thing I found that Chica and Jo are doing a fabulous "sewing 101" video lesson series. They're up to lesson 4 but I went back and watched them all. They are amazingly helpful for a total novice like me. I especially love that they went over some good basic must have tools. (Which I own almost none of... maybe that's why my sewing is so bad?)

  • Then last Wednesday Tracey posted about this funny (but very educational) video she found about "The secret life of a sewing machine".
So, I'm giving myself permission to forget about the bag that's had me paralyzed (I don't even really like the fabrics anymore- it's been stalled so long my taste has changed!). I know it's silly that this one little thing has kept me from using my machine but it's definitely been a roadblock for me.

Then... I will sew something!
(And I'm going to use the fact that I'm publicly declaring it to hold me accountable. Hopefully that will work.)

Finally, I'm going to ask any of you sewers who are reading this for a little help... What do you think I should start with? Pillows, Simple Curtains, something else that's an easy beginner project?

I know there are lots of sewing out there so please... help. Any advice at all would be great!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Cupkins: Guinness Spiced Muffins

It's March the month that's in like a lion out like a lamb. I can't wait for the lamb part of the month... because it means spring is right around the corner!

St. Patrick's Day (the last of what I think of as the "winter holidays" because it's often so cold and snowy still) is just a few weeks away and it's this month's theme for Cupkins (a cupcake and muffin collaboration between Joanne at Ready, Set, Craft! and I).

I was really, really pleased with how these came out. I used Guinness to make these fit the St. Pat's Day theme and I had no idea using it would make such delicious muffins! (I may have to bake with beer more often)

Hubby said it smelled "homey" while they were baking and he couldn't wait to try them. He's normally not a spice flavored dessert type of guy (he goes for anything chocolate instead) but he loved these.

Here's how to make them:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray. This recipe will make 6 large muffins or 12 standard sized- I used the over sized muffin tin and made 6.

You'll need:

  • 1/2 cup of Guinness (you can make 4 batches of muffins from one 12oz bottle)
  • 1.5 Cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 of a tablespoon of cinnamon (I actually used a full tablespoon because I really like cinnamon but I think most people would like a little less cinnamon).
Put dry ingredients (except for spices) into a mixing bowl. Add all the wet ingredients (put the beer in last).

Mix just until combined. Then add the spices and stir until incorporated evenly. Divide batter evenly into cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted into each muffin comes out clean.

The batter is thick and bakes up into a moist airy muffin (even thought there's hardly any oil in this recipe). The Guinness really compliments the spiced cinnamon flavor perfectly. I hope you give them a try! (and please let me know if you do)

Now to really indulge your sweet tooth and head over to Joanne's by clicking on the Cupkins logo at the bottom of the page. She has an awesome recipe for Double Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes! (oh boy my mouth was watering just hearing that title)

Don't they look good... and perfectly decorated for St. Pat's Day. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sniffly Sunday

I know I've been a little light on the posting lately...

First I was in NY on business

I love Bryant Park- and it was so pretty the morning I took this picture, all foggy and snowy.

Then I got sick. It never fails that I get at least one sinus thing every winter. I almost made it thru this year... but wham here is it. I've been laying on the couch all sinus-ie and asthma-ie all weekend.

Since tomorrow's the first monday of the month (March already- wow!) I'll be back tomorrow with Cupkins (a cupcake and muffin collaboration with Joanne from Ready, Set, Craft).

The theme for March's Cupkins is St. Patrick's day... and I've got a really interesting muffin to share, so check back tomorrow!

I must be starting to feel a little better because I'm thinking about knitting and crafting again... I've been looking at the white yarn I spun (yup it's finished!) and thinking it might be a good candidate for a cabled celtic scarf (speaking of St. Patrick's Day).

And in other exciting news... Olivia from Olivia and Me made me her feature blog of the week. Thank so much Olivia!
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