Archive for December, 2007

Happy birthday to Alex!

I had two full days off — yesterday and today — between Christmas with my family in Fernandina and taking Alex somewhere (secret!) for his 30th birthday. Our flight takes off at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow, so we’ll be up and on the road very, very early. I don’t even want to think about how early we have to wake up.

Alex had to work today, so I had the entire day to myself to run errands, do laundry, finish up some projects and get ready for our trip. But I slept late, had a leisurely breakfast, and spent the morning watching HGTV and sipping coffee.

Cereal and coffee

And then I noticed we only had two Christmas cookies left.  

Christmas cookies

Um…I mean one Christmas cookie.

Christmas cookie

Oh, who am I kidding. We now have zero Christmas cookies left. I’m actually quite shocked they lasted that long. My mom, sister and I made a large batch of them from an old recipe that came from my grandfather’s family. My mom has been making the cookies since she was a kid, and has made them every year since my sister and I were born, and I hope to pass the recipe on to my kids someday. The recipe is pretty simple, but baking them together is what makes it so special. And they’re amazingly delicious.

Around 11 a.m. today, I realized Alex would be home in just a few hours, and I had several big things that needed to be completed before he got home in order to keep the destination of our trip a surprise for as long as possible. That got me off the couch very, very quickly.

sewing project

Among several secret birthday-related things, I also finished a gift that I’ve been working on using the fabrics I mentioned in a previous post. I love working with my new sewing machine. It’s a huge step up from my old machine, which would screw up stitches and jump from side to side for no apparent reason. It’s so nice not to have to worry about that anymore. 

Because this gift is for someone who hasn’t received it yet, I don’t want to give too much away. But I really love the fabric combination, and I’m very happy with how the whole thing turned out.

sewing project

Alex and I will be out of town until Jan. 1, and I won’t be writing any posts until we get back. But when I write next, I’ll be able to tell you where we went!

Enjoy your last few days of 2007, and Happy New Year to everyone!


December 27, 2007 at 6:56 pm 2 comments

Sewing machines and pops of red

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I spent several relaxing days with my family in Fernandina. We opened gifts together on Christmas morning, and then I drove back to Tampa to celebrate Christmas that evening with Alex.

The gift I’m most excited about — because of all the possibilities it brings — is the sewing machine that my parents gave me. I’ve been sewing for years on a very basic machine that did the job, but with zero bells and whistles. It’s been a great little machine, but I knew it was time to move on to bigger and better. And, more importantly, sturdier.

Sewing machines

This is my old machine sitting in front of the new one. The old one looks so tiny! I spent much of today sewing on the new machine, and I must say, I love it. It’s so smooth and easy to use.

Alex gave me three beautiful prints for Christmas that he purchased on Etsy from an artist named Elsita.


Her work is really amazing. The prints are even better in person. The colors are so rich.

Plant an Idea

I love the pops of red in each image.

Within Reach

Alex’s 30th birthday is on Dec. 28, and I have a big surprise trip planned for him. He knows we’re going somewhere, but he doesn’t know where. So far, he knows that we’re taking a plane, and that we’re going someplace colder than Tampa. (That last hint doesn’t eliminate too many places.) We’ll be flying home on Jan. 1. January?! 2008?! ALREADY?!?!?!  

I plan to update The Boutique in early January, after things have calmed down a little bit. I love making gifts for people, but I can’t wait to get back to making stuff “just because.”  

December 26, 2007 at 11:15 pm Leave a comment

Christmas in Florida

Having grown up in Pennsylvania, I still find it strange that I can spend an afternoon in late December doing this.

I’m not supposed to be wearing a tank top and flip-flops in December! It’s supposed to be cold and windy and snowy. Don’t get me wrong — I love the weather here in Florida. But even after living here for years, it still feels weird to spend Christmas in shorts on the beach.

Let’s be real, though. What I really miss about living up north is having snow and wind and ice on Christmas. On that particular day, it’s cozy and fun and beautiful. Any other time, it’s just a huge pain. I remember skidding my way to work on icy mornings with everyone driving 20 miles an hour on the highway, except that one stupidly brave SUV who sprays dirty slush onto everyone’s windshield as it flies by. Not. Fun. At. All.

That’s the fabric combination for my final Christmas project, which unfortunately will go out a little late this year. More on that another time. Don’t want to give too much away just yet.

This time, it was Quinn, and not Nola, who had to get in on the action.

I’m sure Quinn’s thought process went something like this: “I’m just lying here in this sunbeam, minding my own business. But wait. Is that a pile of fabric? Are you taking a picture of FABRIC? Instead of ME? Well, we’ll see about that. We’ll just see about that.”

You’d think we ignore them based on the amount of attention they demand, but trust me, they’re the most spoiled cats in the world.

I leave today right after work for my parents’ house. I can’t wait to get the holidays started. I love Christmas. I love buying or making gifts for people who are special to me. I love wrapping paper and curly ribbon. I love Christmas trees and twinkly lights and watching movies with my family. It’s my favorite time of year. Yes, even in sunny Florida.

Happy and safe holidays everyone!

December 21, 2007 at 4:14 pm 1 comment

All Toby Toted out

I completed the final bag for Chellie’s special order last evening.

Toby Tote

A brown Toby Tote lined in blue and white with dark red handles.

Feels great to be able to cross something off the list. Tonight, as soon as I’m done with this post, I’ll start (and hopefully finish) a Christmas gift for someone, and then another one tomorrow night. Thursday night is set aside for wrapping gifts, and it also gives me a bit of leeway in case I’m not able to finish everything tonight and tomorrow. Then Friday, right after work, I leave for my parents’ house, and that’s it! No sewing for at least a week!

Toby Tote

I’m not panicking. I have plenty time to finish everything. But I’ll certainly be very busy the rest of this week.

Off to sew!

December 18, 2007 at 6:59 pm 2 comments

Living in the fabric store

As I’m typing, Nola is sprawled out on my lap. Every now and then, Alex will call her name, and she’ll jump up, walk across the table, and plop into his lap. Then I’ll call her name, and she’ll cross back over to my lap. I love, love, love how she always has to be involved in everything. Here’s a picture of her from yesterday’s TreeFall “photo shoot.”

She’s hiding behind the blue tissue paper like I won’t figure out that she’s there. Clever little thing, isn’t she?

One of my favorite steps in creating a new item for someone is picking out the fabric. It’s an exhilarating and integral part of the process, and I’ve spent hours poring over bolt after bolt of fabric. Sometimes I wish I could live there. Right in the Quilters Premium aisle.

Today, my goal was to find fabrics for a gift for Alex’s mother, so he came with me and joined in the process. And he actually enjoyed it. And having him there with me was wonderful. He likes that we’re making the gift personal by spending time picking out just the right fabrics, and that his mother is going to get a one-of-a-kind gift. I love having him so involved.

I finished Chellie’s ivory Toby Tote yesterday.

Toby Tote

I worked with interfacing for the first time. I’d like to buy some heavier interfacing to incorporate into a larger, sturdy men’s messenger bag. That’s an after-the-holidays sort of project. No time these days!

Toby Tote

Chellie’s tote is made of ivory corduroy and lined in green and cream with deep plum handles. There’s a removable fabric-covered plastic canvas base for extra support.

I have one bag left to make for Chellie’s order, and then I need to (quickly) move on to Christmas gifts. I’m thrilled to get to hand-make so many gifts this year, but it certainly is time-consuming. However, I think it’s worth it, and I hope the recipients think so too.

December 16, 2007 at 6:46 pm 4 comments

Unlikely treasures

Sometimes treasures are found in the most unlikely of places. Like the 50-percent-off shelf at Old Navy.


I don’t shop at Old Navy very often. Typically, I go there for extremely inexpensive “throw-away” items, like tank tops, or trendy items I probably won’t wear for more than one season. I’ve found that their clothes don’t last very long.

But the other night, Alex and I decided to visit Old Navy to kill some time before our movie started, and I found these two fantastic small suitcases on sale for $3 each. I can always use extra storage containers for my craft supplies, and these are absolutely my style, so I nabbed ’em.

My order from TreeFall Design came today!!! Yes, that sentence deserves three exclamation marks. If you’re familiar with Manda’s work, I’m sure you understand.

The packaging was so simple and beautiful, but the item itself is even lovelier.  Because it’s a gift for a friend of mine who occasionally drops by my blog, I can only let you see a blue-and-white gingham corner and let you wonder what the rest of it looks like.

I finished the third bag for Chellie’s special order today, but the sun was already down, so no photos. It sets so early this time of year.

My sister is coming over for dinner tomorrow. It’s supposed to get chilly after dark, but we’re hoping to be able to spend the evening outside in the courtyard.

December 16, 2007 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

One little paw

I finished the second of four bags for my friend’s special order.

Messenger bag

I don’t think these pictures do the colors justice. The corduroy is an olive green, the dark stripe is a plum purple, and the light stripe is a lavender.

The green and purple — Chellie’s choice — is not a combination I would have picked on my own. Not for any other reason than it’s simply not a color combination that I typically work with. But I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Notice anything?

Nola's paw

Anything at all? Perhaps something (or someone) that wasn’t invited and shouldn’t be there, yet somehow always manages to sneak her way into pictures?

Nola's paw

I’ve had a couple of people ask me about my labels. I purchased them online through The design I chose is one of several very cool (in my humble opinion) standard options, which meant I didn’t have to pay an outrageous amount or purchase a ridiculously huge minimum quantity like I would have with a completely custom design. The company is in Thailand, so shipping took a few weeks, but it was worth it.

Fat Orange Cat labels

Perhaps someday I’ll be ready to spend a lot of money on 1000 custom labels. But not yet.

December 13, 2007 at 9:15 pm 2 comments

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