These Are a Few of MY Favorite Things!

I like to browse after I finish my necessary shopping whether at the grocery store or any other store. I don’t buy everything I see, but when I find something that works for my hobbies, my health, or my comfort, I’m willing to indulge. So, thought I’d share a few of my current favorite things.

We are gluten-free at our house because of my husband’s intolerance to wheat products. It took us years to discover the problem so never going to change that aspect of our life. If any of you are gluten-free, I’m willing to bet one of the things you miss the most is any kind of bread product. Yes, you can bake a sort of, not really, reasonable facsimile but it is never quite as satisfying as the real deal. I was an avid bread baker until we had to change the family diet around. You CAN produce a reasonable bread-like outcome on a gluten-free diet but the texture of the dough and the process is different.

I was cruising the Internet a few weeks ago and discovered Authentic Foods – Steve’s Gluten-Free Bread Flour. It promised great things and I purchased some with not too much hope. Bingo! First loaf of bread was amazing with the right texture and a wonderful yeast rise. I currently have a 25-pound bag of the stuff in my former wheat flour storage container! Definitely, number one on my discoveries of late.

Here is an odd, new favorite – Hemp hearts! I saw this at Costco and was intrigued. It has a lot of vitamins including three grams of fiber per serving. Supposedly, it claimed to taste good, too. And, it does! It now gets sprinkled on salads, blended in smoothies, and even enjoyed by the spoonful. I gave one of my sons a bag for his apartment living and his three roommates enjoy it, too. Great for those between-meal hunger pains.

Dry weather and being a constant knitter, crocheter, seamstress is very hard on my hands. I am seldom without chapped hands and split fingers. Buy stock in Liquid Bandage as I keep two bottles in the house constantly. Discovered O’Keeffe’s Skin Repair 48-hour lotion. It stated it was guaranteed to relieve extremely dry and itchy skin. I was desperate. I used it at bedtime and the next morning there was noticeable improvement. Found it at Walmart.

In the realm of gluten-free again, two other flour blends are good additions to my baking/cooking efforts in the kitchen: BetterBatter and Pamela’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Artisan Flour (Dairy-free, too!) are now staples in my cupboard. BetterBatter has a multitude of recipes on their Internet site for inspiration. Pamela’s is cup for cup for using in formerly favorite regular recipes and especially nice for baking cookies. Again, you can find recipes on-line and try some of your own favorites from the gluten day. I usually buy my flour blends on-line as it is less expensive than health store prices.

My addiction to yarn and crocheting/knitting was satisfied recently. I love making projects with varicolored yarn but couldn’t find exactly the mix of colors that pleased me in the usual offerings. Several months ago, I was looking at the yarn aisle and there was something new! It was a yarn that was soft, came in a larger amount than others for a good price and . . . it was variegated in the most interesting color combinations. I liked the whimsical names of the various choices, too. I recently completed a blanket for one daughter in the color blend ‘Gnome’. It was a wild assortment of vivid almost neon colors with enough somber ones to create a nice result. I’m now working on a blanket for my older son’s birthday and it is called ‘Sphinx’ which is a manly (can we still use the word manly in this day and age?) combination of brown and blue tones. The really nice thing about this yarn is that each skein has a lot more yardage than other brands which makes the under $5.00 a skein actually a bit of a bargain. Right now, Walmart is the only store selling this yarn. It is called Mandala and produced by Lion Brand Yarns.

End of sharing time. Laundry calls and I still haven’t invented dinner for this evening! Would rather be crocheting but them’s the breaks!

Little Dresses for Africa – Another Mailing

After making some repairs and adjustments to our home, I was finally able to settle down this past month and get some dresses and tote bags sewn for Little Dresses for Africa. A trip to the fabric warehouse only helped further my inspirations. Unfortunately, for me, I can sew three or four dresses in a day but always put off actually packing them into boxes and getting them in the mail. That is why I am now taking time this week to finally take on that task. I have almost 50 dresses ready to go out and have run out of room to hang them in the meantime!

Tote bags are  welcome, too, so my fabric scraps are getting put to good use.

Abstract Sewing?

I was an art major in college but marriage and children distracted me from my painting years ago. Discovered, however, that the abstract artist in me is always finding ways to show up in either my cooking/baking or sewing! This week, I got the idea of being more creative with the Little Dresses for Africa and liked what evolved in the course of my sewing!

I had a couple of yards of fabric on the shelf which was enough to make a dress but the color on its own was a bit dull. I went to one of my scrap boxes (yes, I have more than one, don’t ask!) and found some complementary bits and pieces of fabric that worked well and with a little applique time, turned into a ‘original’ creation. The second dress didn’t have enough fabric for one dress but with some cutting and adjusting, it melded into a whole dress that will probably never be repeated.

From My ‘Sewing Center’!

Blessed with some extra time this past month, I was able to make some more Little Dresses for Africa and spent this week getting them packed for mailing. With my daughter grown, this has been a perfect outlet for sewing little girl dresses. It is fun to mix and match colors, change the pattern around a bit to ‘invent’ a new look, and put decorative touches on the dresses with the addition of two pockets on every dress.

Anyone out there interested in doing this, you can get all the information, dress pattern, etc., here: http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/

Since I like to include a tee shirt with each dress, I often get remarks from other shoppers when I come to the register with an armload of them. One time, the lady in front of me at the check out asked what on earth I was doing with so many tee shirts and I explained. She suddenly got a glimmer in her eye and mused, “My babies are all grown and I STILL love to sew . . .” She immediately asked for information and I imagine she is busy with some worthwhile sewing even as I type! Another time, the cashier asked about my purchases and said she doesn’t sew a lot but the pattern seemed easy and said she was going to see about doing this, too.

Next Batch of Little Dresses for Africa

I had one of those weeks where I had plotted out days for sewing but every day brought an unexpected interruption. Nevertheless, I stole some time here and there and got another batch of dresses ready for mailing.

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Sending Out the Latest Little Dresses for Africa

I realized, today, that I had been spending more time sewing than thinking about mailing out the Little Dresses I have been working on. I had twelve of them handing in front of my fabric cupboards and decided to spend the morning after Mass getting them sorted and packed. As I was sorting them according to size, I remembered that I had put ‘several’ completed dresses in a spare closet over the last couple of weeks so I went to get them into the mailing process, too. It ended up that I actually had 30 dresses completed so my box being mailed out this week by my kind husband weighed in at over 20 pounds! Have I learned my lesson? Nope! I found that I had made only medium and large sized dresses so knew my next batch would have to concentrate on making small ones. Already, I’ve been eyeing my fabric and matching up colors in hopes of having time this week to begin some more.

Remember to check out the Little Dresses for Africa site as they have other needs besides sewing dresses. There are many children in the world that could use some help.

http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/

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Quilt Selling and Sorting Day!

One of my good friends likes to visit and check out my latest sewing projects and then browse through my stash of completed quilts for possible holiday gifts. Love this visit as it gets me to drag out all the storage containers, refold the quilts and refresh the softener sheets I put in each one to keep them fresh.

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