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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Project-Finishing Week - Kindle Sleeve

  So as I mentioned before, I had some scrap fabric from an apron-sewing class I took last year.  I was tired of it just sitting there taking up space and definitely couldn't stomach the thought of just throwing it out (yeah, so I'm a bit of a pack rat), so I decided to use it to make a sleeve/pocket for my Kindle.  

  So I started by measuring my Kindle.  It's a little over 11", so I added some in for ease and seam allowances and cut it out.
  Isn't it pretty fabric?
  I started rolling down and pinning the top seam.
  I actually changed my mind and re-rolled this seam about a minute after a took this photo.  It was a little shorter than I liked, so I made it a little wider.  
  Here it is all sewn up.  It took all of two minutes.  Well...after I figured out that I had missed a step when threading the machine and that's why it kept jamming.  I really would've hated to have thrown it against a wall.  But of course it was user error.  Ugh.
  So then I folded it in half, right sides together and pinned it. So terribly difficult, right?  (BTW, remember to reverse when you begin and end stitching to secure your thread.)
  Here I am almost done sewing it up.  It really is that quick.
  I clipped the corner at the bottom so it would turn more easily.  I may still go back and zigzag the edges, but I don't think it's necessary.
  Then you turn it right-side-out.
  Hey, it's just waiting for a Kindle!
  I think I'll just go ahead and slide it right in there. It's not like I'm a little bit clumsy sometimes and tend to drop things...
  The Kindle is safely inside its sleeve.  You may not be able to tell, but trust me, it's in there.

  Next up: making a laptop sleeve, finishing the sundress that is definitely beginner-quality work, and finishing the endless backstitching on the bookmark.  It's not really endless, it just seems that way at 1 AM.  At least I'm making progress, right?

Friday, July 22, 2011

The girl who can't focus

  Do you know anybody who can't seem to complete one project before moving on to the next?  I am that girl. I took an apron-sewing class at the local sewing center, but I still haven't finished assembling it. I also have an almost-completed sundress. I would actually like to complete that before it gets cool again.  Aside from that, I'm currently knitting two scarves, making some Teneriffe lace medallions, cross-stitching a bookmark and some baby bibs (counted and stamped, respectively), and have material to make a few skirts and some other projects.  Actually, many other projects.

Edited to add: I didn't make the lace edging around the
bookmark.  I bought it as is and am embellishing with cross-
stitch.  You can find them at Hobby Lobby or other stores
like it, I'm sure.
  I name this coming week project-finishing week.  I am actually going to get out my sewing machine and work on something every day.  Granted, the knitting will be ongoing, and I very much doubt I'll finish that next week, but I have until it gets cool again to get the scarves done (which in Alabama means maybe November).  I'm riding with some friends to Birmingham tonight to do some dancing and bid a friend farewell, so I'll take the cross-stitch bookmark with me and get a little more work done on it in the car.  I'm also going to take some scrap pre-quilted fabric from the apron and make a pocket for my Kindle.  Then I'm going to go buy some more and make a pocket for my laptop.  That way I could carry it around in my regular backpack and it will still be protected.  And of course, I'll be posting updates as I go.  What about you?  Are you anything like me?  What projects have you left unfinished so far?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pin of the Week - July 10 - 16

  This entry will be short and sweet.  If you're a Harry Potter fan, you likely know the final movie came out Friday.  You may have even already seen it.  I'll be waiting until my husband finishes reading book 6, we re-watch Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, and the crowds die down a little bit.  But this pin...well, it made me laugh.  So here you go, for any who may not have seen it:

  The caption with which I pinned this (and many others have as well) is, "It is obvious that this student deserves an A+."  Have a great week!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Her Name is Lulu

There is in Africa (Kenya, specifically) a little girl named Lulu.  

  She is 9 years old, has 5 siblings, and lives with her father and step-mother.  The average income there is less than $25 a month.  Can you believe it? That's approximately 1 restaurant meal for me and the husband, and that's all they earn for a month.  But you know what?  There is hope for Lulu.  Lulu goes to church at a Compassion site, and that is how we came to sponsor her.  By $38 per month she is supported and Compassion is helped to bring sponsorships to more and more children in poverty.

  From the Compassion website:
    "Your sponsorship allows the staff of <Lulu's> Child Development Center to provide your sponsored child with Bible teaching, medical screening, home-visits and academic support.  The center staff will also provide income-generating activities and support groups for the parents or guardians of your sponsored child."

  We don't just send money to Compassion/Lulu's family, though.  We're more engaged than that.  Last year for her birthday, we bought a greeting card in which you could record a message and sang Happy Birthday to her.  The letter we received after she had listened to the card expressed amazement that we had included her name in the song.  The letter said (Compassion workers help write/take dictation for the younger children), "she feels very honoured and further tells you that God wonna reward you for making her feel so special."  I almost cried when I read that.  Just a simple birthday card, but it made her feel special and loved.  All children should feel special and loved.  Another time, I wrote to her that I was teaching preschool.  She wrote back that she wished I could be her teacher.  I did cry at that.

  Last year we were not doing so well at writing letters, so we've now made it a monthly recurring event in our calendar.  Tonight we'll be writing her a letter (something simple).  We'll tell her about the warm temperatures and our garden and whatever else comes to mind.  If you sponsor a child, consider writing them at least once every other month.  There's an electronic form on their website which makes it incredibly easy.  The children want to know who these incredible people are that sponsor them.  They want to know you.

  For those of you who haven't heard of Compassion, or who have and weren't sure how they worked, I'll be posting some more information soon, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, consider clicking the Compassion link to the side and sponsoring a child greatly in need of your support.  It's not just $38/month.  It changes lives - theirs and maybe even yours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pin of the Week - July 3 - 9

  So, this post is only 4 days late... sorry about that.  Do you know what it's like when you're trying to clean your house for company and then ten (or a thousand) things pop up that you HAVE to do, and then you realize there's only a few hours until company arrives and you're still not ready, or is that just me?  Anyway, the house is still slowly getting more organized.  I've finally figured out what to do with a little table and hutch that so far has been a catch-all for things we have nowhere else to put, and I'm working on that.  At least one shelf is going to be a mail station.  I'll keep stationary and stamps there, as well as incoming mail to deal with/respond to.  Thus, this last week's pin.

  I love that it's something I could personalize and make all by myself - or at least with help from the husband, dad, or combination thereof.  I mean, I'm sure I could make it myself, but it would take a whole lot longer and they have the tools.  I'm sure they'll be overjoyed to help me with this! (Where's that sarcasm font?) Here is the link to the step-by-step instructions if this projects interests you too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red, White, and Blue Cake

  Happy Independence Day!  Can you believe it's already the 4th of July (and the day is almost over, to boot)?  We've had a rather relaxing holiday weekend here.  My Uncle Dieter came for a visit (from Germany), so we had a nice family gathering for Sunday dinner.  Uncle Dieter isn't actually related to us by blood or marriage, but by a foreign exchange program that occurred years before I was born and has developed into a strong kinship with our whole family.  When Chris and I were in Berlin almost two years ago, we made sure to visit with his family.  Dieter was here to drop his daughter Andrea off just outside of Atlanta for her own two-week exchange experience.

Andrea, Dieter, Daniela, and Felix
  At any rate, this special visit combined with a holiday weekend necessitated a special dessert.  Now, if you look online you can find a variety of patriotic-themed desserts (and is that odd? I'm not sure I'd want a patriotic German dessert...).  The problem for most of them, though, is that they're decorated with berries, which I really don't like (yes, I know I'm a bit odd - just remember, more berries for you).  This problem was solved when my mom found a recipe for Blue Velvet Cake on Pinterest.  She proposed this: I would bake the blue cake, she would make her Red Velvet Cake, and we would exchange layers.  I was, of course, agreeable.  She cut each of her layers in half, and assembled with the frosting she always puts on her Red Velvet.  I didn't cut my layers in half and used the frosting from the Betty Crocker site.  It got great reviews, and I'd not tried one like it before.  I'm not entirely sure what went wrong, but it wasn't really easily spreadable.  It tastes fine, but I'm not sure I'll use it again.  Maybe I'll just blame it on the weather.  Anyway, here's a very low-light picture of the cake.

  You can find the recipe for the Blue Velvet cake and frosting here.  My mom's recipe for Red Velvet is included below.  I hope you all had a wonderfully enjoyable day.  And you know what? I think I could deal with a dessert the colors of Germany's flag if it were devil's food cake with peanut butter frosting, and maybe red frosting decoration?  It's not quite right, but I guess I have until October 3 to figure it out.

Red Velvet Cake
Cake Ingredients:
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks) - softened
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring
2 teaspoons cocoa, leveled
2.5 cups cake flour (from a box)
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare cake pans.
Cream first three ingredients.  Make paste of cocoa and food color and add to mix.  Combine flour and salt, and buttermilk and vanilla.  Add to creamed ingredients, alternating wet and dry, starting and ending with dry.  Place baking soda on top and pour on vinegar.  Fold in - DO NOT STIR.  Bake in 2 prepared 9-inch pans for 30 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

Icing Ingredients:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup butter (2 sticks) - softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix starch and water.  Cook until thick over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Cool completely.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla and cooled cornstarch.  Beat until like whipped cream.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pin of the Week - June 26 - July 2

  I know it's been a rather quiet week around here, but I've been working at VBS.  Do you know how exhausting that can be?  Well, it's finally over and life is getting a little bit back to normal.  I have a few neat things that I'm planning to do over the next week or two, and hopefully I can blog about those soon.  Cleaning and organizing is still slow going, but at least it's going!

Anyway, here's my pin of the week.

  I love to read.  I tend to forget about anything else when immersed in a good book.  That not necessarily a good thing.  I don't hear people when they ask me or tell me something and sometimes I forget to eat.  

  Toward the end of May, the website offered a 2nd generation Kindle 3G.  I went for it!  I had been considering purchasing an e-reader for a while.  I wasn't convinced I would really love it, but the thought of being able to carry around multiple books on one small device... well, it appealed to me.  My Kindle arrived a few days later and I Fell.In.Love.  I take the darn thing everywhere.  I have over 50 books loaded in my account, most of which were free (Free ebook collection -> Limited Time Offers -> sort by price: low to high).  And though this Pin has been accurate since I learned to read (I used to check out 15 books from the library at a time when I was little, read them all in about 4 days, and anxiously await the next week when I would wash, rinse, and repeat), it's especially accurate again now, because I've finished about 8 books since I got the Kindle... some of them around 4 in the morning.  What can I say, sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  What about y'all?  Have you been reading anything recently?  Got any great recommendations for me?  And as always, you can find my pins at Laura's Pinterest Site  and comment here if you'd like an invite.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Getting Organized

  I am not what anybody would really call organized.  Growing up, my room was always a mess disaster area.  My parents were always after me to clean up.  I would spend hours in my room, going through piles of old school papers and books and get distracted as I went.  I wound up reading old assignments from years before or reading whole books and getting absolutely NO cleaning done.

  Household chores were only slightly better.  I hated washing dishes (probably because the dishwasher was broken throughout my childhood), and drying them was only passably better.  (Vacuuming, however, was always a fun task.)  Laundry wasn't horrible, but I wouldn't get around to it until I had nothing clean left to wear and once it was washed, you could forget me actually folding it.

  So clutter, mess, and disorganization was my life through grade school, college, and into married life.  I had a great admiration for people with beautifully clean homes, and wondered why I wasn't one of them.  I was ashamed of the state of my room/house and always wanted to be better.  I'd start cleaning, but the effort to keep it clean only lasted for a week or two.  I would buy books about cleaning, organizing, and decluttering, but never would follow-through.

  I did learn a lot about myself, though.  I learned that just because I was a Girl Scout and "Be prepared," was a great motto, it didn't mean I had to keep anything I might possibly ever have a use for in the future.  It is okay to throw things away and let it go.  I learned to fight the perfectionist inside my head that would say, "There's too much.  You'll never get done, so don't even start.  You don't have the time to finish it right now," when I looked at a messy area instead of just spending 10 or 15 minutes doing what I could and eventually getting it clean a little bit at a time.

  It's still an uphill battle.  I fight the urge to buy all the cute organizational supplies, because right now it would be a waste of money because I would never use them.  It would just be more clutter.  A few weeks ago, I restarted the Flylady system for maybe the 6th time.  This time, I'm not being so strict.  I'm adapting it to fit my life a little better.  I know what doesn't work, so I'm just trying to build habits that do work.  I've printed out some chore charts to keep me (and the hubby) better on track.  Eventually I'd love to make them all pretty and laminate it so we could mark with dry-erase marker instead of me having to print a new one each week, but that's the perfectionist in me.  If I waited til then to do it, it would never get done.  This way, my house is getting cleaner and my life more organized little by little until I have time to make it pretty.

  So for right now, you're not going to be seeing any pictures of my house.  It's not gonna happen.  But after a while longer, I hope to be able to show you things that are working for me, and explain a little better about how I got to that point.  In the mean time, why don't you share with me some of your tips.  What works for you?