Saturday, July 30, 2011

Presents are on the way....

A while back, my friend Mrs. Wookie over at Mrs. Wookie's Wanderings shared a "Pay it Forward" idea. She'd read it somewhere else, and shared on her blog, and then me on mine, and so forth. The idea was that the first person offered 3 homemade gifts, one each to the first three people to leave her a comment. The understanding was that those three people would turn around and "pay it forward" by offering the same on their own blog, facebook, email, whatever.

Mrs. Wookie accepted the challenge, offered it on her blog, I replied over there and offered it here. I actually had 4 people respond, two of whom have so far sent me contact information, and I'm happy to report that my mom carried off the wrapped presents and is mailing them today, so my recipients should get them in the next week or so. Sooze & June, let me know!

I won't show what I sent, since they've  not received them yet, but here are the wrapped packages, ready to be mailed....

for Sooze, over at Wild Life in the Woods

and for June, formerly of Mendon Foodie but no longer blogging
Wrappings on both are typical Brazilian gift bags.

I also sent off a gift to my little sister, and a gift to my quilting/sewing mentor. Can't show those either, since they've not reached their new owners yet.

Let me just say, though -- I had so much fun thinking of things to delight each and every recipient. Choosing just the right elements to include, thinking over what this person and that person would enjoy, sleuthing out things like favorite colors and such, and then praying for the recipients as I crafted their gifts -- it was so much fun. I'm a gift giver at heart, and my new hobby of crafting things with my hands (although not all the gifts are made of fabric and stitches....) is such a great way to implement that.

I can't wait until everyone gets their gift and I can share with you what I made. I'm working on three more gifts right now, too; one more to be mailed which I'll have to mail from here, and two for local folks. I'm waiting on one more person back home to give me some hint as to what sort of gift she'd like so I can make her something, too (hint, hint Momma 3M if you are reading...). I absolutely love that I can create things for the people dear to me.

I kind of still can't believe that a year and a half ago I was struggling to figure out how on earth to put together a few simple squares and triangles into one little quilt square, and now I've finished the main part of one quilt top, have made "stuff" which I said I'd never do (too hard!), am working on a quilt sure to be an heirloom for my boys one day, and am planning even more. I've got a design rattling around in my head for a Brazil themed quilt, and t-shirt quilts for the boys, and placemats and cloth napkins for our house, and gifts for folks for Christmas, and, and, and....

I never imagined one tiny little project that seemed so hard and confusing such a short time ago would turn into this hobby, passion, addiction, thing. I love having a new hobby that feels productive and not time wasting. I love that when I spend money on myself, buying fabrics, I can turn around and turn it into gifts for other people. I love that I'm busy in an industrious kind of way.

I'm having sew much fun, I just hope I don't bore you with my sew many sewing stories on the blog....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mom's Purse...

This post could go in many directions, from the literal to the philosophical. Today, I'm sticking with literal, which means -yes- an entire post about a purse.

Before I get to that, though, an update -- The Adventurer is pretty much fully recovered from the incident that sent us to the ER last week. We do have a follow up with his pediatrician, on Monday, but mostly as a formality at this point. Thanks, much, for all the well wishes; they mean a lot. Thanks too for your patience in a mostly dark blog this week while I was busy making sure he got fully recovered. You guys rock. Seriously. 

Not just any purse, though. My mom's purse.

A purse I made her. From a pattern I more or less invented.

It's kind of a pretty awesome sewing Win, if you ask me. 

I started off with a basic free shopping bag or market bag pattern, right up until I realized, "Hello?? She wants a purse. Not a shopping bag. And 16" x 23" is kind of huge for a purse. (smacks forehead and ditches the pattern). Crap. Now what??"

Now what, indeed. Now, "Wing It," that's what. So I did.

I meant to take pictures all along the way so I could post a cool tutorial, but my camera batteries were cannibalized by wii remotes again, so I only have pictures of some of the steps. Still, it was pretty easy, so I'll explain.

I cut 2 rectangles of fabric and folded them and sewed up the edges so that each one turned into kind of a bag shape. One was the lining, one was the purse.

the bags

Then I made a tube of fabric that fit the bottom of the bag, slid two rectangular pieces of batting into the tube, and sewed that really, really well. I didn't want the batting sliding around should the purse ever need to be washed. I sewed this tube of fabric, with the batting inside, firmly to the outside bottom of the lining of the bag. Oh yeah, the point of this is to firm up the bottom and help the bag hold its shape.


sewed up really well so the batting won't slip around
Then I stuffed the lining into the purse, wrong sides together, and sewed the sides in place (top stitching down each vertical seam, and at the T junction at the bottom). And then I made the straps. Four long rectangles of fabric, because I wanted the straps to show the lining fabric on the underneath, so I had to make pieces of both. Lots of ironing and sewing to get those straps made.

Oh, before I put the lining in, I did put in two pockets. I call them library card pockets, or library book pockets. I don't know what they are really called. Just two rectangles of fabric, sewed around on three edges, open on top.

the pockets, before
the pockets, after
Then, catching back up now, I pinned the straps between the top of the lining and the purse, right where I wanted them. I also made and pinned in a flap to serve as visual interest and a closure for the bag. All those things pinned in place and now I sewed around the top edge, folding the raw edges to the inside, and finishing up the bag. I added reinforcement stitching on the flap and the straps so that the weight of the bag won't pull against them too much.

all done
Very last, I sewed on the cute little belt loop thing to hold the flap.

belt loop thing close up

Mom loves it, and I got to give it to her in person, so that's an added bonus (she's here visiting, thanks to some frequent flier miles we had built up). 

I highly recommend the use of a sewing machine, though, if you want to make a bag like this. At least for the straps -- quite tedious, sewing all of those straight lines.

So, what have you been up to lately?? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strength in Union

This is the  next block in the diary quilt procession -- Strength in Union. It's meant to be a patriotic block, with red, white & blue but I tweaked it to fit our life and better reflect who I am these days.

While I will always and forever be a proud American, patriotic to the core, and even more than that a proud Texan, the fact is I love Brazil almost as much. So I chose to combine the two -- red and blue for the USA and green, blue & yellow for Brazil.

Living here, I have to try and merge my American self into Brazilian culture. I have to unite the two sides of me, becoming neither one nor the other but a mixture of both.

I have to set aside the American tendency to impatience and take up the Brazilian way of relationship above efficiency. So that instead of glancing at my watch every 2 minutes in line at the grocery store, I chat with my husband and enjoy the uninterrupted conversation now that we are able to shop without the boys in tow.

I have to remind myself that while Americans are very private and keep certain subjects to themselves, Brazilians are not being nosy, but being caring, to ask about those very things. So that when my neighbor, who I've spoken to three times in two years, tells me all about her husband leaving her I'm not so shocked I don't know how to respond. And when the other neighbor asks how things are I'll feel comfortable giving her an honest answer, since she is truly interested and not just for the sake of gossip.

I have to embrace the inner Brazilian that lets me wear a bikini to the beach, or heels to the grocery store, or wedge sandals to the park and leave behind the conservative American home school mom who cringes at the thought of exposing, gasp!, my midriff on a summers' day, or the practical chasing a busy boy mom side of me who cannot bear the thought of anything but tennis shoes at the park. (solution: send the dad chasing after the busy boy....)

I have to hang on to the very American desire for quality workmanship and work ethic when dealing with those who work for us - not just our house helper, Antonia, who's amazing, but doctors, dentists, etc. who will do the bare minimum if we let them. Like the time we had the wood revarnished, and the worker spilled varnish on the side of the house. I  had to be very unBrazilian and tell him to clean it, to my satisfaction, in hopes of not having to repaint later myself. (that got it mostly clean...).

I take the foods we can buy here and cook them in ways that are familiar to me, merging the cuisine into something neither American nor Brazilian, but down right good. I buy our movies where all Brazilians buy their movies (at the market in Centro....), but I buy them in English, merging my home culture with my host culture, bit by bit, inch by inch, until now, almost 4 years later, I've kind of lost sight of which is which. I've become neither/nor, either/or, not wholly one or the other but a mixture of both and so much the stronger for it.

 A Texan in Brazil. The red, white & blue in a sea of green, blue & yellow. Merging, mingling, becoming more than, not less than. Different, better, stronger. And I find as I unite these two sides of me, these two countries I've now called home, that there is Strength in the Union.

If you've moved away from your home town, even if not to a new country, has your new home left its mark on you? And do you find yourself better for it?