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March 2010

{ books } Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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It's been a while since I've read a book that I wanted to keep going.  You know, past the last page.  In fact, this last year of bookclub was chock-full of books that were difficult for me to get through. Not because they were hard, but I didn't always find them engaging. And I don't really have enough time to sit around reading books that feel 'assignments.'  Bleh.  I had enough of that in school. 

I was beginning to feel like a failure of a member.  

And then our March selection reminded me why I love reading so very much.  How you can, by opening the pages of a book borrowed from the library, be convinced to sit down, snuggle up, and get lost in a story. Forget the laundry.  Forget the closet reorg project.  That sewing project that can wait.  Lost.  That is the best way to describe it. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. (image, 

In the highly unlikely event that you have not heard of this book or read it yourself, run, do not walk, to your library, and pick it up.  I recommend finding a comfy spot immediately thereafter and having, perhaps, rations nearby. 

Prepare to make friends with some memorable and enjoyable characters.  Prepare to get sucked into  a sweet, but not sacharrine, love story.  Prepare to learn about the German occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII.  It will break your heart.  And lift your spirits.

I know, I know, I know.  It's been out since 2008.  It was a best seller and it has garnered major acclaim.  Good golly, it deserves all the favorable reviews.  

Also, it's written as a series of letters, from a variety of characters and viewpoints.  That can take a few pages to get used to, but I do think it makes the story even better. 

Also, I want to be Juliet's neighbor.  I think Fidget and Kit would get along well.

Enjoy.  xoxo

{ shop } spring stuff

Despite the umpteen feet of snow that blanketed good old Kansas City and the rest of the Midwest this weekend, I have set my sights on spring.

Here are a few of the latest items added to the shop.


Here's to warmer temps and more sunshine.  I know it's coming.  I can feel it.  (Even if I can't feel my toes at the moment.)



PS: The canisters have sold already -- wow!  The description was my favorite of the ones I wrote today, so I thought I'd share it here, anyway:

Fran was my grandmother's neighbor and best friend. She was a whiz in the kitchen and would drop by with special treats for us when we were visiting. Cookies and crumb bars, muffins or breads, whatever she was in the mood for and her pantry inspired that day.

Fran's kitchen had yellow cabinets and a speckled Formica counter that sometimes picked up the sunshine. Her avocado green appliances all matched and had fancy detailing on the chrome, and the oven had a tiny clock on the front that was always off by a few minutes. The stainless steel sink had a window above it that was flanked by tiny shelves attached to the sides of the cupboards. She kept her trinkets and toothpicks up there where little hands couldn't reach.

There was a set of canisters like these in her tiny sunny kitchen. I was convinced as a child that they were filled with all sorts of special ingredients. There was no way *Fran* used ordinary stuff like flour and sugar in her treats. They were much too extraordinary for that.

Some poor tired soul might have dropped the coffee tin in a stupor early one morning, for there is a small dent on the bottom edge of that one. But they have otherwise aged very well and are good vintage condition.

The flour tin is 9" tall by 6" wide. The smallest tin, Tea, is 6" tall by 4" wide.


Those tins are off to Alaska!!!

{ home } eventually, I'll do a nursery post

Like, before she's one?  We'll see.  Problem is, my free time tends to happen when little missy is asleep in there.  Anyway, here's another peek at that sweet little green dress her mama made her wear the other day.  Poor thing.

It looks much more Swiss Miss than Irish to me, but I still love it.

nursery + green dress

Those little red shoes were a baby gift from my dear friend Jen. (ages ago.) 

The print is a signed Elsie original from the bricks and mortar shop of Red Velvet Art.  I love this shop for so many reasons.  The stuff is cute cute cute.  They are living the dream of owning a little shop in a cool old building in a refurbished old part of town by the railroad tracks.  In the town I went to high school.  (The same high school, I have to mention because it is almost a rule, that Brad Pitt and Lucas Grabeel went to.)  I know, big times. Anyway, Elsie and the girls are just adorable.  Just go check them out if you haven't already...

Of course, they are going to make the rest of my post seem boring and predictable.

The dress?  It had little red vintage buttons you couldn't see in the photo on Wednesday.  I am almost 100% sure these were from my mom's stash I inherited when they moved last year.

vintage buttons too

This was the perfect little project for the thrifted eyelet trim (a yard or less) that I've had forever.  I had forgotten about it.  Now I want to add it to everything.

+ trim

Not pictured in the top photo is this pretty mobile I bought - new, even!  GASP - from an art shop in Columbia, MO, called Bluestem Missouri Crafts.  It is a wonderful store.  And it's local, which always makes me happy. 

Love mobile in the nursery

I love love love it.


Happy weekending.  I am working on some shop stuff and need to get my head around some new ideas.  I'm so inspired these days and I need to prioritize my plans.  Right now I'm a crazy woman.  A fun, happy crazy woman.  But crazy, nonetheless.  (you'll love me anyway, right?)


{ bit o green } happy St. Patty's Day

I'm not Irish, but I sure do like to herald the coming of Spring with green around here.

bits o green

in the dining room,

bits o green

in our makeshift greenhouse of a kitchen, and

bits o green

on unsuspecting little sweeties who will wear whatever their mama pulls over the head.  She loves shoes already.  Oy. 

I love this green print, by the way.  It reminds me of a favorite dress my mom had made me when I was about four years old.  It had capped puff sleeves and a short hem. White or yellow Rick Rack, too, I think.   I wore it with knee socks and red t-strap buster browns.  There is a photo somewhere.  I have a short boyish mop of super straight white-blond hair and a pixie nose. 1976.  Sweet.

This is part of 2 yards I picked up at a thrift store over a year ago and I'm always chicken to use it. (because of the nostalgia, mostly) This morning I decided something festive was in order, so I got brave, cut into it and made this simple dress that does look very handmade, but I love it anyway.   I'll share another view of it eventually -- but I couldn't wait and it had to be worn. 

Crew-to-Cardigan how-tos soon.  Specifically, the t-shirt trim.  I am obsessed. 

Happy St. Patty's Day. 

{ sewing refashion } Crew Redux, but not until after the rambling

When I had my first Aha! Moment about 3 years ago online upon discovering the World of Craft Bloggers... (it went something like, omygoodness there are people like me out there who make stuff and buy things at thrift stores and like to buy fabric just because and make more stuff.  I could spend hours just reading all these blogs.  I need a blog.  I  need to sew.  Wait, I want to make THAT.  Ohmygoodness I never thought of THAT.  I have never seen THAT before.  Where is my sewing machine?  I need to get to the fabric store STAT.  I can buy FABRIC ONLINE??  I don't really need sleep, do I?  If you are reading this blog, I'm pretty sure you had that moment, too.  I remember laying in bed that first night, with my head swimming with ideas.  It was crazy. Like the Mothership calling me home.)

...anyway, I knew I had discovered a wealth of talent and resources like nothing I had ever experienced before.  I did not know that I would

a) ever venture out of the safe zone of quilters cottons
b) experiment with stretch fabrics
c) get addicted to ripping fabric
d) start up an etsy shop
e) make the bestest friends
f) use my crafting obsession to help others
g) want or use a schmancy camera
h) looove my schmnacy camera
i) gain confidence I didn't know was missing.
j) and the friend thing again.  It bears repeating.

That is a long way of saying that although sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed and inadequate when I surf around the interwebz and see what all is going on OUT THERE, I still get that ohmygoodness this is so awesome feeling, too.  It makes we want to try things I wouldn't have before.  (And send things in the mail to people I've never met in person.  It is a small world after all!)

For Example (rejoice! this post has a point!):  This Plain Jane light blue Gap stretch crew sweater I picked up two weeks ago, thrifting.  $2.50.  

crew redux - before

It got turned inside out, and introduced to quite a bit of iron-on tear-away stabilizer.

crew redux

And it got marked up.

crew redux

And stay-stitched.  And cut into.

crew redux

crew redux

And then I guess I stopped taking photos.  Because I decided to cut 1.75" strips from an old green t-shirt, overstitch the stretched the edges to make them ruffle, and apply it somewhat like binding to the now raw edges of the sweater.   Then I tore off the extra stabilizer which left no residue or marks.  Done.

I made a little flower pin from a hankie and stuck it on for good measure. It's going to get lots of play this Spring because I like how it looks with denim.  (Not sure how I'm really going to finish this cardi -- with a giant button or a tie or not at all.  For now, this is good.)

I threw it on with a tee and jeans and went about my business.

after - cardi-cu

I think I'm going to shorten the sleeves, too.  I'm liking the way they look with longer shirts poking out from underneath. 

after - cardi

And that's it.  Not quite a tutorial, but I think you get it.  By the way, cutting up old tees is now my favorite thing to do. Favorite.  No serging or hem rolling or whatever required.  Makes everything faster.  Which is spectacular, in my book.

Now go!  Go find a old sweater you don't use very much and chop it up!  xoxo

{ sewing refashion } the ruffled tank

Oh my.  When I ask for ideas, I sure get them.  Thank you!  Some bags have already been given away, a few others are on hold for a friend, and the others are coming to coffee with me on Friday...  (I liked the idea of cutting them up to use as cards or tags, too.  Of course, I'd feel compelled to keep them all if that were the plan.  And we might be back at square one.  Ahem. )


I've been a little obsessed with the ruffles I'm seeing everywhere this spring.  In every catalog.  In every store window. On tons of blogs. In magazines.  And at Target.  Oh Target, how I love thee!

Knowing that I would not be happy unless I tried my hand at ruffled applique, I picked up two tank tops last week at one of my local thrift haunts.   I cut one up into strips and ruffled to my heart's content.  The other got a hefty dose of iron-on stabilizer on the inside.  Knits tend to stretch out every which way when you are sewing with them and, while I don't always use stabilizer for my smaller appliques, this project would not have been the same without it.

thrifted tank, ruffled

I didn't pin the ruffles, but sewed them on as I went, stopping and turning the tank on my machine every few stitches.  It wasn't elegant stitchery -- which might explain why I have this giant ruffly flower that should probably be about one inch to the left and about two inches higher -- but that's ok.  I'm going to chock it up to experience and wear it anyway. 

thrifted tank, ruffled

My almost fourteen year old wants me to make her one in black with tan ruffles. Love that.

thrifted tank, ruffled

It looks better worn than draping and sagging from the hanger.

But it's March.  And I'm nice.  And I am NOT going to expose you to the lily whiteness of my upper arms today and risk scarring you for life.  


(I get a lot  of comments and questions about my crocheted hangers. I pick them up thrifting whenever I can, rarely paying more than a quarter.  It's such a great deal, and a fun item to keep your eye out for...  We might have about 20 now, and they are wonderful for some items that usually slip off hangers.)

{ stuff } And you thought I had a lot of chocolate chips

Houston, we have a problem.

not my fault!!!

And it's Not My Fault.

not my fault!!!

I have almost 22 POUNDS of gift bags.  TWENTY TWO POUNDS.

(I guess I like to weigh things around here.)

The pink bag has Halloween and Valentine bags in it.  The green bag is Baby gift bags only.

not my fault!!!

And this last one, weighing in at 14 lbs on its own, is Birthday. 

not my fault!!!

I'm sorry.  I know this sounds like I'm being all "oh, POOR me, SO MANY PEOPLE give us presents, WAAAH,"  Really, we are a family of five with generous extended family and friends.  We are!  Yay for Us!  They all love to give gifts in bags.  In nice bags.  Fancy bags. Themed bags. 

And I am a Wrapper.  So unless I donate them or remember to give the bags themselves as gifts to other people, THE BAGS NEVER LEAVE MY HOUSE.  It's like a special gift bag museum.  And I am the reluctant curator.

They were taking up way too much space in my craft studio, so they were evicted this weekend... and now they are homeless, per se.  Sitting in my laundry room.  Dreaming of living in the Spelling's Gift Wrap Room.

( Oh, and these photos does not represent the Christmas stash, most of which I donated this year.  I cannot justify the amount of square footage that it takes to store all of these bags!)

What to do, what to do.

not my fault!!!

I think I'm going to bring an extra 22 pounds to Friday Morning Coffee this week and give each of my girlfriends special gift-free gift bags.  Yay for them!!! 

What would YOU do with 22lbs of pretty gift bags???  Really, because I'd like to know. 

Thanks bunches.  xoxo

{ sewing } the vintage pillow redux

Once upon a time there was a standard white cotton pillowcase with a pretty blue flowered edging.

Grandma spent hours stitching the delicate flowers and petals before setting it on the bed her granddaughters used in the guest room. Secrets traveled in whispers over these flowers as the girls tried hard to keep their voices down, but they were far too excited to sleep just yet.

Tomorrow, Grandma had promised, they were going swimming at the lake. They were going to look for treasures in the soft sand and gather wild blueberries on the way back to the car. They could almost smell Grandma's Ban de Soleil already.

A few decades later, I stumbled upon this pillowcase at a thrift shop. Cast aside, it sat there just begging for me to take it home and make it useful again.

And so I did.



The front is made of layered hand-ripped strips of the pillowcase fabric, and the aqua cross-stitch is centered. The back has a zippered closure and has a contrasting gold honeycomb print.

And now it's in my etsy shop along with a couple other new items.

(but it's hard to let this one go....)

{ four }

fidge turns 4.

We had a birthday here last weekend.

Figet turned four.  [ insert standard 'I can't believe how fast it's gone' comment here. ]  It was pink princess everything and she had the best time.  The Best. 

There is something magical and sweet about four year old girls.  I remember when the eldest was four.  I thought it was the Perfect Age.  She was just coming into her personality, and it was a transformation from toddlerhood to semi-big-kid status... The realm of make believe is so very important.  Fairies and princesses and all sorts of special characters are still very much a part of real life. 

And four year old girls can be reasoned with, for the most part.  Such a relief for this momma. They understand big things and little things and are obsessed with learning and When They Can Go To School.   She is on the precipice of new friends and homework and teachers and recess and lunchtime, but Not Yet.

My goal for her for the next year-and-a-half is to savor this last part of responsibility-free childhood.  She's going to remember these days.  We think The Bike will have something to do with that.  :)

and gets a bike

(The nice thing about laminate floors is that you can allow things like riding a bike indoors.  And tap shoes.  And, well, pretty much anything.)


I've been checking out so many of the new blogs over the past week.  It's overwhelming, the talent that is out there.   One of these days I am going to list some of the stuff that is blowing my mind.

Until then, xoxo