Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Couple of Days of Productivity





I don't know how long this will last, but I'm going with it.

Here are the teacher bags, all done.

I followed the tutorial at Rachel Griffith's P.S. I Quilt blog. I blogged about it a couple of posts ago: It's a simple tute, though I got bored stiff sewing 1.5 inch strips together for the body so on one I did four different size strips for each side, and on the other I pieced 3 same-size blocks for the sides.

I stuffed them with some Purell foam, Sticky Notes, a pen, a highlighter, tissues, gum, and candy.

I got really good at making these. I even memorized the tutorial. So, even though I've been looking for the perfect bag for my iPad with Otterbox case (seriously, I've spent about 12 hours total searching the web for an easy-enough-for-me pattern/tutorial that has what I want (not picky there, but definitely no rounded corners, pleats, ruffles, etc.), I decided to give this bag a try, making it bigger.

A month or so ago, I bought this fabric at IKEA (at the time, I had NO idea IKEA sold fabric!). It's heavyweight, almost (but not quite) canvas.

I LOVE THIS FABRIC. So much so, I'm afraid to cut it.

So I decided to practice with scrap fabrics, so that I could get all the measurements and adjustments right and written down.

I'm not good at the math involved in increasing fabric cut sizes in patterns and tutes, so I decided to eyeball it.

I had made my sister, a lover of all things pigs, a table topper one Christmas and didn't like how the first one turned out, so I made her another. But I saved the first one.

I put my iPad on it and it seemed like if I cut it in half and put another equal-sized fabric in between, it would be close to the perfect size. AND it would show off the pigs.

The bag is really busy because of all the scraps, but here is as far as I got today.

The bag is sitting on the liner. You can't quite tell, but I decided to sew the handles onto the body of the bag instead of just at the top because of the weight the bag has to hold. An iPad is light, but the case I have adds about a half- to 3/4 pound more so it's almost 3 pounds. I also want to carry a notebook, my wallet, and my phone, so it had to be roomy.

The dimensions so far are 12 inches tall, 16 inches wide, and 3 inches deep. When I make it again, I'm going to knock an inch or so off the sides and decrease the depth to 2 inches. The straps will all be one fabric, too, but I didn't have enough of one fabric to make long enough straps for this practice bag.
Also, I'm dying to try Soft and Stable because the fusible fleece I used for this isn't as sturdy as I'd like it. It doesn't need to be, though, because I'm not looking for protection for the iPad as the Otterbox takes care of that. But still, I'm just not into floppy purses.

You can see on the left of the bag that I have a phone pocket pinned on. I've already changed my mind; I'll put it on the inside of the bag, because then I can just sew it on with the machine without worry about how it will look.

I am also going to put another pocket inside for my glasses, too, which I'm finding I need more and more. *Sigh* I'm not very fond of the aging process. I don't mind losing a breast, but I do mind losing my up-close vision. I'll split sew the pocket so that I can put a pen in the other. How organized am I?

Here are some things I've learned from this practice bag:

1. Make sure the direction of the fabric is correct for the sides (my pigs are upside down on one side, which can't be helped for the practice bag because I had to cut a table topper in half, and I couldn't very well turn the fabric upside down because then the border fabric would be near the bottom instead of the top).

2. Sew the handles on before I piece the two sides onto the bottom and leave a quarter inch hanging over (on the inside, which will be hidden by the lining).

3. Use fusible fleece on the handles. They're a little too floppy for my liking right now.

I'm excited about my practice bag! I think it's going to look quite scrappy when I'm done, imperfections and all.

Now I have to decide which fabric to use on which parts of the bag. Should I do three alternating wide strips on the sides and the striped fabric as the bottom, lining, and handles? I'm not sure about using any white on the bottom because of dirt. I could put feet on the bag to prevent any problems, but that would mean going to JoAnn's before I work on the new bag.

One more look at the choices:

Or, should I use the black fabric as the bottom and make it a little "taller" than the sides (showing it off more), the black-and-white swirly and chevron fabric as the sides, and the white and green fabric as the lining and straps. I could then use the striped fabric for pockets inside. I'm kinda' liking that option.

Or, same as above but having white and green fabric as the side (showing it off more), and the swirly-and-chevron as lining and straps. I'm just not sure how those swirls and chevrons will play on the straps. But I think that fabric won't show dirt from use (oil from my hands, etc.) as much as the white and green.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Homemade Week

This is what I've been doing all week.

Lynd's fruit farm is on my way/way back from work; they have a peach sale every year: $10 a peck when you buy at least 5 pecks. Last week I bought 9 pecks. It took me forever to get around to canning them. In fact, they were so ripe, I had to freeze about 3 pecks so they wouldn't rot before I could can them. I gave some to friends and we ate a bunch, accounting for 1 peck, so I ended up canning 5 pecks. In case you were curious, 1 peck equals about 5 canned quarts and 1 pint. I did a bunch of pints to give away as Christmast presents.

I gotta' tell you (if you don't already know it), Ohio peaches are awesome! We had a bit of a drought this year, which resulted in sweeter-than-usual fruit. Yum, yum, yum. I used the lightest syrup I could because they're so sweet.

We have friends who moved to Florida about 2 years ago, and I really want to visit them this winter or next spring break; if we do, I want to take them about a half dozen jars. Because living on the water is nice, but canned Ohio peaches...ain't nothin' like 'em! Nice gift, eh?

Next bumper crop...

This is the first batch of tomatoes from our garden. I anticipate that we will have about 20 more like this before the end of the summer.

I want to make and can salsa.

Unfortunately, I don't know if we have enough green peppers on the vines left, and the onions came up months ago, so it won't be quite the homegrown effort I anticipated. Still, I'm hunting for good salsa recipes. I think pints of salsa will also make great Christmas gifts.

I've been wanting to make some "butter 'em up" gifts for BonnieBlue's teachers, so I spent a lot of today making these.

I found the free tutorial at P.S. I Quilt. She calls it a friendship bag. Aren't they darling?

I made one for BonnieBlue two weeks ago, when she asked me to make her a purse (my heart leapt at that moment!). I let her pick out most of the fabrics. Did she or did she not pick the absolute cutest stuff!? Truth be told, I already had the fabric for the handles and the green fabrics, but she picked the others. And they were in the clearance bin! Woot!

I realized just now looking at the picture that I didn't stitch around the top of the bag. I also didn't quilt it. That just adds too much time, so instead, I used WunderUnder to stiffen up the fabric. And thanks to my crafting mentor, Mama Pea, I made a few adjustments, including making the straps like she does. One of my favorite of her tips is to use a contrasting thread and lengthen the stitches for a more professional look.

I have one more bag to make (BB has two teachers and an aide...private school; don't judge me). After I was almost finished with the first bag, I was reading her student handbook and noticed that there was a sentence about not giving teachers gifts. My stomach dropped a bit, but when I read on, the sentence ended with "unless homemade." Whew!

I'm also going to make one for a little girl at church who is 10 (BB is 5) but who is awfully kind to BB; she even invited BB to her bday party this week at a fun-n-games place! It was kind of last-minute, so I didn't yet have a chance to get her a gift, so I'm going to make a bag for her and fill it with nail polish, polish remover, and cotton pads. Cute, no?

And at Christmas, I want to make some for my nieces and sisters. But I'm not sure what to fill them with. Any ideas?

I hope this post isn't a hot mess of incomprehsible drivel. For some reason, my excision site is more swollen than usual and hurts a bit, so I took something for that AND melatonin to help me sleep, two things in combination that usually lead to...well, incomprehensible drivel.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Egg Biscuit "Muffins"

I'm a food blogger wanna-be, but unfortunately I'm a marginal cook with very little time (although a lot of room) for improvement.

This morning, I impressed myself.

I read food blogs with a borderline obsessive-ness, though I only occasionally make any of the dishes/items I read about. It's sort of a relaxation thing, I guess.

I read. I look. I sometimes save in favorites or even copy and paste to my recipe file. I rarely follow through.

Today I followed through.

I had seen a few posts about baked egg "muffins" made with pre-made biscuit dough in cupcake tins. I can't remember on whose blogs I've seen these, and I scrolled through my digital recipe file without finding any recipes, so I can't credit the originator.

I do follow Our Best Bites, and I remember this post about ham and egg cups, using ham slice to hold the egg. A great idea for the gluten-intolerant and low carb eaters.

So, anyway, I've been thinking about the coming school year and BonnieBlue starting kindergarten. We'll be getting up early, on a schedule, the first time in her life. She doesn't like eating first thing in the morning, so I've been trying to think of things she and I can eat in the car on the way to school. She doesn't much like granola or cereal bars, and I wanted something with protein anyway. She will eat bacon and eggs, so I thought I'd try these egg-biscuit muffin cups.

I have moderately high cholesterol, so I didn't want to use a whole egg in each "muffin" but egg white alone is b-o-r-i-n-g tasting. So I mixed whole eggs with egg whites. In addition, my garden harvest is coming in, so I wanted to use up some green pepper, tomatoes and onions. The zuchinni is not from my garden. I love zuchinni, but the squash bugs were so bad this year we decided to take a year off from squash, zuchinni, and pumpkins.

The ingredients:

 It's important to use the jumbo biscuits, and not the smaller non-flaky kind. But, you do have to slice these biscuits down the center, keeping their circular shape, so that you have two round biscuits. I couldn't take a picture because I needed both hands for slicing.

  1. Spray oil in the cupcake tins.
  2. Flatten out the biscuits and lay them in the tins.
  3. Beat two eggs in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of egg white.
  4. Spoon a tablespoon or so into each biscuit.
  5. Add a little bit of each veggie and a bit of chopped bacon.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes or until egg is done.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheese on top.
  8. Loosen from pan. Let cool a bit.
  9. Remove from pan when cool enough to touch and cool further on wire rack.

Unfortunately, BB wouldn't try one, so I had to eat hers. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just Sayin'

I enjoy reading other people's blogs more than I like writing my own.

And I'm starting to like Pinterest. Uh oh.