She believed she could. So she did.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Launch

Today Mudpies and Lemonade launched on Etsy! What a dream come true! Thanks to all my buddies at school. Cassie Cakes with her mad photography skills, Paul my in-house web designer and tech support, and Cathy my cheerleader and life-long angel here on earth. Thank you! You rock! Now go to my shop and buy some stuff!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Little More Than A Red Re-Do

Sometimes karma swings your way and after a good kick in the pants, gives you a little pat on the back--like with this adorable old stool. (First off, can I just say this has Jennifer written all over it. So thank you, Karma. You got it soooo right). It belonged to a how shall I say "less than effective teacher" please read (OMG! A holy nightmare! And see me eye rolling, exasperated, and drinking too many diet Dr. Peppers to dull the pain and reality of it all). Kids crowded my office in packs and parents flooded my voicemail and inbox with complaints, worries, and what-are-you-going-to-dos. Sometimes it would be with things that you would think were completely unbelievable if you hadn't been there. Like..."What do you mean the kids stole your teeth? Why were they on your desk?" Or "Removing your hearing aid is a classroom management strategy that you really might want to re-evaluate." But in all the-never-grade-a-paper or return-a- paper-mess, this little charmer was left behind. After some good scrubbing (I mean really good scrubbing with rubber gloves, scalding water, and hospital grade antibacterial agent), tightening of the joints, and a fresh coat of paint, we've got a great little place to sit in the kitchen while sipping on some morning coffee. Although in retrospect after a great deal of reflection, a few therapy sessions, and more diet Dr. Pepper, I can't say the experience of this teacher was all bad. She definitely taught me how to toughen up and manage difficult and uncomfortable situations. Nowadays, not all that much seems difficult or uncomfortable. (I'm calling because I've gotten some feedback from teachers that your sweet darling may want to consider taking a bath and use a little deodorant. As a mom myself, I would want to know. Or your sweet darling posted rumors about herself on Facebook, Tweeter, and something called Tumbler, and called it bullying. As a mom myself, I would want to know). No, through her abject lack of teaching, she strengthened my conviction of the importance of ensuring the best education we can provide for all students, regardless. Think back. You really only got that one chance in English 1 or geometry or whatever. And then the semester ended, and it was over. After my doctoral work and central office work, I was big-time disillusioned by education policy, funding, egos, and all the red tape rigamarole. At times, I felt like I had gone to seminary and lost God. But being back on an amazing campus (built on foundational educational philosophies) with hard working students and teachers re-energized and re-fortified my beliefs about what working in education or "having the call" should be. So I guess in a way, she gave me a real-life education that couldn't be learned on any page in any book. And tomorrow when I look at the little red re-do sitting in my kitchen, I'll remember my little re-do too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An elf in the Santa Workshop

Christmas Eve around 10pm, I got the notion that Wendy needed one more gift that would be a surprise. A few days before, I made a prototype of a little coin purse from a pattern called Little Purse by Valori Wells. It only took about 15 minutes. The practice purse came out a lot smaller than I had expected, but I didn't think much of it at the time. While making it the first time, I couldn't figure out why the pockets were not lining up with the back, but I just figured oh well whatever. When making Wendy's, it dawned on me that the pieces weren't lining up because I had traced the pattern pieces wrong. Ugh! So it's almost midnight by now and several hello dollies later, I retrace the pattern (correctly), re-cut the fabric and sewed it up. It's a fun little pattern to make. (When you make it right). You just layer the pockets, sew around, and turn. Wendy loved it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Remember when your momma bought new fabric for the kitchen curtains and you ended up with a pair of shorts and a pillowcase with the extra yardage? That's my happy red and white cotton that I got for a steal at Joann's a few days before Christmas. I'm a nut for red. It has found itself on strippy tea towels, an Ali Foster foldover clutch, and an appliquéd heart pillow. And best of all, there's still enough left for some kitchen curtains.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Although everyone is pretty much over peace signs, there's something still so endearing about them to me. The button is my favorite.

Springing Up Clutches

The gloomy days of winter call for a little spring inspiration.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Before and After: Pillow Re-Do

Quick, appliquéd pillow re-do. Fun addition to the sewing studio.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ali Foster Fold-Over Clutch: Take 1 and 2

The first one (red and black) is made completely by the directions. It was fun and easy to make. However, it calls for interfacing to give the bag some body, but I've been using fusible fleece for so long that I thought it lacked the more familiar heft that I like, so the second one has the fusible fleece. I like the squishiness of it much better. I also sewed the bottom corners so that it stands up by itself. Although the fleece turned out, the rest of the fabric on the second one is a nightmare. Once again, because of my 6th grade math education, I didn't realize that a fat quarter was too small to make the flap, lining, and strap. So I was going to use the fat quarter for the strap and flap and another fabric for the lining. Something weird happened with the flap (can't remember now what it was at all) so it ended up with a different fabric for the strap, flap, and lining. It's kinda a fabric mess. What's the saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Hello, Beautiful: Fold-Over Clutch

Recently, my Nonna gave me a huge sack of buttons she collected over the years. I was absolutely thrilled. The day after Christmas, Anna-Jane helped me go through them and we ran across this ivory butterfly button. It was so inspiring I knew I had to use it on something. I love that vintagey, eclectic vibe. I made 2 fold-over clutches over the break from Ali Foster patterns. The instructions were very clear and the pictures walked through every step. I tweaked the pattern a little so that the bottom stands up on its own. This third one I made with the special button is my favorite and pretty perfect. The clutch has a magnetic snap, so I got to use some pliers (cool). I really like how the instructions show how to make the strap. You cut a piece of fabric 2 1/2 by 11. Iron on interfacing. Fold strip in half wrong sides together and iron. Then fold the edges into the middle crease and iron again. Topstitch. The strap has a good weight to it and the width is perfect. This pattern is too big to use a fat quarter which is kinda a bummer, but it was fun to make and turned out really cute.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Handmade Gifts

That's my Nonna and me on Christmas day. She's the original seamstress in the family. Family lore includes stories of making circle skirts in a blink without a pattern and making perfect tucks and pleats on everything. She's also lended her hand on all the projects that have come along-- Amelia's baby bedding, the gathered skirt on Momma's lavender table cloth and lots more. She is holding the gift that I made for everyone. Fourteen in all. So cute, right? I got kitchen towels from Target (4 at $3.99). Then sewed strippy strips on them. I had 2 different fabrics. I cut them into squares 4 1/2 by 4 inches. Then sewed these together. Then right sides together sewed strips into tubes. Once again, using the trusty ol' safety pin turn it and iron. The towels have a ridge on them so I just aligned the strip with the ridge and tucked under the ends. The fabric is centered so that when the towel is folded you see the main fabric and an equal amount of the alternate fabric on both sides. Clear as mud. In all the excitement, this is the only picture of them. I tied rickrack around some and chenille yarn around some. Easy, cute, and from the heart for sure.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

With or Without Wings: That is the Question

Over the holidays I made 3 owl clutches. One for Wendy's niece, one for a birthday present, and one for my sister. The question became: With or without wings? The first ones that I made in the fall had wings but that creates a lot of parts to appliqué: head, body, 2 wings, 2 feet, beak, and eyes (background and pupil). It takes me (because I'm so slow) about an hour to do the appliqué. So I switched things up and drew an owl with just a body, feet, beak, and eyes. Less is more, right? But the last 2 I made seem to lack the character of the others. Is it the wings?

Game Set Match - Clutches for the Tennis Team

Wendy's mom Donna is a member of a 70s ladies tennis team. I was flattered when she ordered 12 gathered clutches to give as Christmas gifts. So after Anna-Jane's birthday party, I took a 24 hour R & R and then hit it hard Sunday and Monday until the wee hours. We designed them to match their skirts which are black, gray, and pink. I found cute ribbon with tennis rackets on it at Cute and not too gimmicky. I took a picture of the prototype. The actual clutches had a polka-dot front and black linen back. I ended up making 13 (of course) because I totally messed up the first zipper. I decided to get all jiggy wit' it like the blogging pros and not use a zipper foot. Bad idea. The stitch was so close to the zipper, it wouldn't zip very well. Ugh! At midnight on Sunday, I realized that I was running low on black thread so I was checking and praying every 2 minutes that it would last. Then when I got to the quote part found that I had just enough of the transfers so no mess ups allowed. Towards the end I forgot to sew in a strap so had to do some seam ripping. But on the bright side, I figured out a way to pin the zipper when you are sewing around the clutch at the very end to ensure the lining gets sewed right. And it was super fun to have my first order and make some $$$. :-)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Celebrating 5 Years

We celebrated Anna-Jane's turning 5 at Healthy Me Cafe in Coppell with a cooking party. The kids made smoothies, personal pizzas, decorated cookies and cupcakes. While planning the party, Mother and I got the bright idea to make all of the kids aprons. In years past only a handful of kids have shown up to her parties. Being the workaholic that I am, I invariably get the invitations out late and it's during the holidays, so calendars fill up fast. This year, of course, we had 17 RSVPs. (Thank you Cathy for helping me create a cute e-vite and send it out on time). So Momma and I were burning the midnight oil during what is one of the busiest weeks in a school-- the week before winter break. We made 11 girl aprons and 6 boy aprons. The ties took forever. Instead of measuring and figuring out exactly how long each tie should be, I cut strips and strips, and strips, and more strips together and then used the trusty ol' safety pin to turn it. Then iron it. Ugh! It took forever. Mother made 5 aprons in the time it took me to turn the strip for the ties. After that afternoon my homework was to finish putting the ties on the girl aprons and mom made all of the boy aprons. It sounds like she woke up at 3:30 am on the day of the party to start and finish hers. I tell her all the time that she could win Project Runway. She is smart, quick, and dexterous. Instead of doing the turn thing for the strips/ties, she cut strips on the bias, folded it in and then folded it again to create the binding. She said she didn't even iron it to make the strip. She just rolled it along through her fingers as she sewed. They were all perfect. She continually amazes me with all her talents and skills. Of course, I was so in to watching Anna-Jane at her party that I didn't get good pics of the aprons but here's a few. I'm thinking we should have a birthday Princess Prom for Anna's 6th year and Mother can make all 17 kids a formal ball gown with a train. Heh!