i heart etsy.

sewing has taken over my life. actually more to the point, etsy has taken over my life. with some prompting from the delightfully bossy k.h. and lots and lots and lots of support from everyone i know, i opened a shop on etsy. sound simple? well then, you are not me. me does not do simple. ever. i take on one itty bitty little project and i find a way to stretch it into an all consuming life-sucking machine.

it began on saturday. i decided to start putting together my little project. first i had to setup my etsy store. definitely more involved that just giving them my name. they want descriptions about me and my store and they want to know my policies about everything from shipping to nose-picking (okay not really, but it felt like it). i mean geez. i just wanna sell a bag. i finally get all of the nitty gritty figured out and then, because i am me i had to create a brand for myself. i used a heart to create my logo. yes logo. i know i know. everyone else who does these things just writes the name of their store and moves on. not me. i need a logo. and a font. and thank you cards. and package design. if i am gonna do this, i am gonna do it right. do you see how this becomes a time sucker??
once i had the online part figured out and designed all of the pieces of my brand i had to create some products to fill my store. not knowing what my adoring fans would like to see i just started sewing. and sewing. and sewing. i have forgotten to eat, cook, and sleep. i havent even been to the grocery store. in fact this morning i woke up and discovered that breakfast was a no-go. we had no food. i have no idea what the mister consumed before heading off to work, but lucky for me he is amazingly accepting of these periods of time when i completely neglect our pantry. otherwise things would be getting ugly.
clearly i am losing my mind. but etsy and i were meant to be together. i have been sewing or playing on etsy or talking about etsy or thinking about sewing nonstop since saturday morning.  i look at my etsy page every 27 seconds. and i created an etsy tab on my facebook profile. and i created a fan page for my etsy store. and i created an etsy widget for my blog. it's like we are soul mates. i feel the same as i did when i was in middle school and wrote my name and a boy's name in a heart and then giggled about it with my friends. pickel+etsy=love.

visit my shop. please. it will make me happy. and you know what? it might just make you happy too!


snack baggie tutorial.

are you still motivated to be green? no? then make yourself a snack baggie and you will want to be the greenest kid in your neighborhood!! this here is a tutorial to make as many snack baggies as your heart desires. these are fabric snack baggies, perfect for all dry snack-ums....pretzels, cheerios, jelly beans, etc. these baggies are not for storing snacks, because they have no ability to maintain freshness over extended lengths of time; however, they are perfect-O for packing yummy delights into lunches.
for those of you thinking that you could make these with a plastic lining, be warned...food-grade plastic is not readily available in fabric stores, so unless you want your snacks rubbing up against weird chemicals, stay away from random sewable plastic. you can certainly use food-ready plastic (large chip bags are a great option), but that is a tutorial in and of itself, so for this go-round i decided to keep things simple and stick to cotton fabric for both the outside and the lining.

now if you are like my mumsy you are thinking that this these baggies will be the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of bizarre bacteria. you might even try to refer me to dr. emory, as my mother did, to discover the number of pathogens that will inhabit my creations. no offense to all of you germ-a-phobes, but i think this is plain silly. you can make yourself lots of snack baggies and then wash them after EVERY use. personally i am planning to wash mine weekly. at the end of the week i will either drop the little guys into the laundry or wash them by hand and let them air-dry over the weekend. by the time monday morning rolls around the baggies will be dry. so if you're with me, then read-on!!
materials: two 12" squares of material (1 for the outside and 1 for the lining), a 6" piece of thin width elastic, and thread.

note: click on images to see them larger.

step 1. choose a light-weight cotton fabric. you can use the same fabric for both the outside and the lining or you can use different fabrics. i opted to use unbleached 100% cotton for the lining and a pretty 100% cotton fabric for the outside. these instructions will make a snack baggie that is about 7"x5". if you want to make your baggie a different size decide what size you want and then use the template [the template will be posted soon...i promise] to calculate the dimensions that you need to cut. the example calculations shown in the template are the calculations for the baggie i made.

step 2. cut out two 7.5" x 11.5" rectangles. one will act as the outside and one will be the lining. cut a 6" piece of elastic (i used 1/4" elastic). i will refer to the 7.5" sides as the "short sides" and the 11.5" side as the "long side."
step 3. find the center of one of the short sides and mark with a pin. with the right-side facing up, make a loop with the elastic and pin it in the center of the edge of the rectangles. place the lining fabric on top of the outside fabric, with right-sides together. (this step sounds confusing, but look at the picture - it should make sense).
step 4. sew down the short sides using a 1/4" seam allowance. as you cross the elastic, go back and forth a few times to reinforce the stitching.
step 5. pull the layers apart and reposition so that the seams you just sewed are lined up together. pin. sew the long sides, but make sure to leave a 1.5" gap on one side (this should be on the lining half of the bag). you will use this gap to turn the bag right-side out. you can see my gap on the bottom right corner of the third picture.
step 6. turn the bag right-side out through the gap/hole you left in one corner.
step 7. pin the gap. sew the gap closed. sew as close to the edge as possible.
step 8. tuck the lining inside the bag. press the top edge with your fingers and pin. then carefully stitch around the top edge. sew as close to the edge as possible.
step 9. fill with yummies. fold the top edge down and secure with the elastic wrapped around the bag. drop in your lunchbox and off you go!!
go greeeeeeen!

p.s. i got the idea to create reusable snack bags from here, but i created a different style bag to fulfill my dream.


killing the cat.

curiosity killed the cat. therefore i am blessed to not be a cat. i would be dead. i am too curious by far. about what you ask? everything. the latest was brought about by my previous post about kosher soda. out of deference to keri (who prefers pepsi, for reasons i am not taking the liberties to disclose) we will hereby refer to pepsi. she mentioned that HFCS (high fructose corn syrup for those of us who are not in the know) is not included in the kosher production of pepsi. which caused emory to ponder why HFCS is not  kosher. which caused me to go and figure it out. and i solved the riddle!! yay me.
a picture of our grape jelly, because it seemed inappropriate to include a picture of "that which is not pepsi"

are you ready? okay. let's start with the fact that as it turns out, high fructose corn syrup IS kosher. at least according to the OU kosher organization, who call themselves "the world's most recognized and trusted kosher trademark." okay. apparently they are also interested in world domination. and it is working, because they are the trademark from my earlier kosher post. so, why is HFCS kosher? well OU kosher starts with a commentary about the production of HFCS explaining that it is made by changing the molecular structure of corn syrup. uh huh. sure. and then somewhere near the end of the following snippet, we can deduce that it is kosher, because they admit to the fact that they cannot find any reason why HFCS is not kosher.
"The agent responsible for this dramatic change is called glucose isomerase. Although the production of glucose isomerase could theoretically involve kosher concerns (the raw materials may be derived from non-kosher material) the only producers of this sophisticated ingredient are, to the best of our knowledge, kosher-certified. It is thus unlikely that any nonkosher high-fructose corn syrup is on the market" (http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/common/article/good_sweet_year/).
so if HFCS is kosher then why the big hullabaloo creating kosher pepsi for passover? because folks who observe passover traditions are forbidden from ingesting fermented grains or grains which have been in contact with water for longer than 18 minutes. corn is a grain. high fructose corn syrup is derived from corn. pepsi is a liquid, so at some level it contains water. clearly the corn derivative is in contact with water for much longer than 18 minutes. put all or some (i am NOT a scientist people...bear with me) of that argument together and obviously HFCS cannot be consumed during passover.
"Any food or food product containing fermented grain products (Chametz) may not be used or remain in a Jew's possession on Passover. Even foods with minute amounts of Chametz ingredients, or foods processed on utensils which are used for other Chametz-containing foods, are not permissible for Passover use" (http://www.ou.org/chagim/pesach/pesachguide/maze/basic3.htm).
not surprisingly, pepsi is eager to play nice with customers, so they found a way for folks to observe passover AND still gulp down their beverages. long story short...the hubbub is entirely related to passover NOT to the consumption of HFCS the rest of the year. interestingly the throwback varieties of pepsi, which are made with real sugar instead of HFCS are kosher, but not kosher for passover. i have not yet found anything that answers why these are not kosher for passover. i have a feeling it has something to do with a non-kosher preservative.
"During Passover, Jewish law forbids the consumption or possession by Jews of all edible fermented grain products (Chametz) or related foods. Therefore, even foods and household products which meet the strict, year-round dietary regulations, and are considered Kosher, are nevertheless, often unacceptable, or require special preparation for Passover use in the Jewish home in order to be Kosher for Passover"  (http://www.ou.org/chagim/pesach/pesachguide/maze/basic7.htm).
i feel better now. i hope you do too. and i would like to thank the folks at OU kosher for providing such a wealth of information.


kosher coke.

i have never tried to keep kosher, which is probably a good thing, because it never ever ever ever ever would have dawned on me that i need to check my soda to see if it is kosher. but as declared by the orthodox union, certain parts of coke and diet coke meet kosher standards. good to know. but how many different parts of coke are there?
this letter was hanging from the coke shelf at the grocery store.

my question. the rabbi has certified coke for passover 2010. does that mean that after passover coke is no longer kosher? this is so confusing.

 and the coke marketing department gets in on the action. sweet.


just a softie.

since they might be the greatest method for using scraps, little creatures keep popping up. hello mr. hedgehog!! is that a wocket in your pocket?
little bits of happiness for everyone! thank you mollychicken.


last weekend all the necessary pieces finally lined up long enough for me to find my way to the local farmer's market. there is actually a company that coordinates six farmers markets in the surrounding megatropolis, four of which are within what i consider to be a "reasonable" distance. it should be noted that while it took me almost two years to unearth these potential gems, once discovered, it took me mere seconds to realize that arranging my appearance at one of these locales was about as likely as our fifth story apartment requiring the flood policy our insurance representative tried to sell us. why so difficult to go to a farmers market? oh boy, did you have to ask. well, for starters, the closest one is closed for half of the year, which is coincidentally the only half of the year that i ponder what my life would be like if i regularly attended farmers markets. the second closest one is open on saturdays, which is fine except that i only remember this fact on sundays. the third and fourth markets are in what i dub a "reasonable" distance, yet they are on sunday. a day on which my motivation hovers somewhere around lay-on-the-couch-all-day-watching-televsion, and the ten mile drive seems akin to a thirty-seven day camel trek across the sahara.

but the stars were aligned last weekend and the mister and i ventured down to south beach for a glimpse of the newest addition to the group of farmers markets. there was a lady selling soap, a man selling olive oil who did not seem to notice that his tasting dish was filled with suicidal flies, a smoothie stand, a ridiculously overpriced french bakery stall, one plant lady selling only two kinds of plants, and two farmers. not exactly the bustling farmers market that i am used to from my days living in los angeles, but i decided not to be picky.

being a plant-killer, i naturally fall madly in love with plants on first glance. i dont know what it is. some sort of chorophyllic magnetism. i simply love to buy plants. you might think we have a problem with finding space to put all the plants, but in actuality i kill them so fast, this issue never arises. so i saw this little gem, which reminds me a whole lot of the spiral aloe found in lesotho, and lucky for both of us, the mister was present to offer instant approval on a non-food purchase (remember i am banned from shopping). yahoo!
so we get home and i plop the little guy on the table, but quickly realize that the poor thing will have to live in the crappy plastic pot in which it arrived, because buying a new pot would constitute more shopping. damn damn damn. oh the misery of it all. i tried to make it better by putting it on a gold coaster. sadly, this only served to make the plastic container that much more depressing. but, lady luck was on our side this lovely sunday, because i rode my bike to the grocery store, which thankfully led me off my usual path and right past the dumpsters on the west side of our building. i spotted a withered and dying lucky bamboo sitting in a pot next to the garbage. i told you it was a lucky day. especially lucky that i am the kind of girl who sees nothing amiss with acquiring worldly possessions at the dumpster.
after hacking away all the lucky bamboo, dumping out the contents of the pot, and giving the pot a scrub scrub with sandpaper, our wee little plant has a new home. since i am not exactly a professional gardener, i decided to leave the guy in his original plastic pot, which i propped up on rocks to provide drainage. wowee zowee, if i keep talking like that i might be able to convince some folks i know how to keep this plant alive. uh huh. sure. anyhow, end result is that the little man looks rather handsome in his new white pot. and this was another environmentally friendly adventure as i decided to REUSE the pot that an anonymous neighbor discarded.
i think i am going to name the guy mr. green. not only because he is part of our current "go green" theme, but also because maybe, just maybe, if he hears the word green every time i talk to him, he will remember that his leaves are supposed to be green, even if i forget to give him water. welcome to our home mr. green!


chicken love.

waste not, want not. when it comes to fabric, no scrap is too small to find its way into a project, so i never throw out cloth. thanks to my handy dandy storage boxes i have a place to keep all of my bits no matter how bitty they might be. i even have a box that holds what most would would consider to be garbage, namely bits of thread and fabric that are smaller than a pea. in general i do not consider myself to be a hoarder, but i figure that using every last fragment of fabric is environmentally friendly. speaking of saving the world...i am even incorporating reduce, reuse, recycle into my world of sewing. the mister does not yet know it (although plastering it on the internet is a surefire way for him to find out), but one of his holey undershirts was dismantled. the large chunks went into the closet as dust rags and everything else was tossed into storage box #12 to be REcycled into a shmancy sewing project.

hmm...what to do with the armholes of an undershirt? cut into teeny chunks and voila...stuffing. 
stuffing for what? a chicken. naturally. i found this blog mollychickens that has a header image of ten positively adorable chickens. although she doesn't include a tutorial for the chickens, i used her love bird tutorial to make a love chicken. cute, eh? pumpky, this one's for you!!

shopping bag tutorial.

my writing seems to wander through themes and apparently the current theme is "go green." it only makes sense that i decided to make some reusable grocery bags. the mister and i already have gads of reusable grocery bags, but i have been thinking about making these for other people. i thought that for gifts it would be best to create a set of bags with a little carrying pouch. since i am not only a fan of reusable commodities, but also a HUGE fan of free sewing tutorials, i decided to write a tutorial for sewing a shopping bag (the pouch is not included in this tutorial). now this is my first try at tutorial composition, so please be patient and definitely let me know if something does not make sense. ready or not, here we go.
materials: 1.5 yards medium-weight fabric, thread, and safety pin.

note: click on images to see them larger.

step 1. choose a medium-weight fabric. these instructions will create two tote bags that are approximately 19"x13.5". if you want to make your bag a different size, decide what size you want to make your bag and use the template to calculate the dimensions you need to cut. the example calculations shown in the template are the calculations for the bag i made.
step 2. cut out a 35.5"x20" rectangle for the bag. cut out two 3.5"x24.5" rectangles to make the straps.
[steps 3-7 will guide you through creating a french seam, which is delectable because it is a seam that leaves no raw edges of fabric. if you are struggling with my directions, then check out this lovely tutorial at colette patterns.]

step 3. fold the large rectangle in half with wrong sides together. sew down the sides using a 1/4" seam allowance.
step 4. cut off 1/8" of the seam allowance, so you are left with a 1/8" edge.

step 5. iron the seam to one side. DO NOT iron the seams open.

step 6. turn the bag inside out. wiggle the corners so they completely turn inside out. iron the side seams flat.

step 7. sew a 1/4" seam (french seam tutorials will tell you to do a 3/8" seam on this step, which i am sure is great. i just chose to do a smaller seam and you can also choose to do what you like. fancy.) the inside of your bag should now have a seam with a finished edge that will not fray.
step 8. turn the bag right-side out. now we need to square the bottom. we need to square each corner by pulling the front and back layers of the bag apart and flattening the side of the bag to the bottom of the bag. line up the side seam with the crease running down the center of the bottom.
step 9. measure 2.5" from the corner of the triangle (i use the diagonal on my square ruler to make sure this triangle is properly squared, but you can use a ruler and eyeball it.) draw a line with tailor's chalk. this line should be perpendicular to the side seam/bottom crease. pin along the line to make sure the fabric does not shift. repeat this process with the other corner.
step 10. sew along the chalk line. cut 1/8" from the sewing line. repeat with the other corner. turn the bag inside-out. wiggle the edge until the corners are completely turned inside-out. sew 1/4" seam. repeat with the other corner. (we are once again creating french seams.)
step 11. fold the straps the long ways, with right sides together. sew down the length with a 1/4" seam allowance. turn the straps inside out. the easiest way to do this is to attach a safety pin to one end and then feed it through the tube and pull until the tube turns right-side out. i am a high-falutin lass, so i use a bodkin to do my turning (that's the adorable doohickey in the picture).
step 12. press the straps flat. tuck the ends inside and sew down the edge, so the edges will stay tucked in.
step 13. turn the bag inside out. make a hem along the top of the bag by folding the top edge of the bag down and pressing. this should be about 1/4" to 1/2". in the picture, my hem is about 3/8".
step 14. turn the bag right-side out. flatten out the bag. find the center of the bag and mark it with a pin. measure 3.25" to either side of the center and mark with pins. do this on both sides of the bag. then to avoid confusion in the next step, take out the center pin (see picture with step 15).
step 15. line up the top edge of your strap with the top edge of the bag, and the inside edge of your strap with one of the pins. secure the strap with pins. then let the loop of the strap hang down towards the bottom of the bag (this seems strange, but the straps will be "flipped up" into their final position in the next step -- in the picture the bottom of the bag is at the top of the picture, sorry for the confusion), and pin the other end of the strap next to the other pin. if you have completed this step correctly, there will be about 6.5" between the two ends of your strap. repeat this process with the second strap on the other side of the bag.
step 16. carefully turn the bag inside-out again. fold the top edge down 1.25". MAKE SURE the 1/4" hem you turned down in step 13 is still tucked under. press and pin. the straps should now be "flipped up" so that they are they will be ready for hanging on your shoulder.
step 17. sew the large hem at the top of the bag by sewing twice around the bag. once 1/8" from the bottom edge of the hem and once 1/8" from the top edge of the hem. as you are sewing this hem, MAKE SURE the loops of the straps are out of the way. otherwise you will end up with the middle of your strap attached to the side of the bag.
step 18. reinforce the straps. mark an X where the strap meets the bag. sew a box and an X inside of it to reinforce the attached strap. [tip: when you need to turn sharp corners, such as sewing the box or the X, sew down one edge. when you reach the corner, leave the needle securely embedded in the fabric, raise the presser foot, spin the fabric, drop the presser foot, and sew the next edge.
congratulations!! you have made a lovely shopping bag. you can add a personal touch by sewing your own tags into the bag. i got my tags at namemaker.com. french seams. personalized tags. it does not get much more fancy than this! now that you know how to make the bag, you can use the remainder of your fabric to make a second bag.
gift idea: sew a set of bags and create a little pouch to hold the bags.
i created my pouch using this tutorial from mairuru. so cute. since i did not want the inner pocket, i used the same size rectangle for the lining as i did for the outside fabric. i also attached my button and tie closure before assembling the bag. i guess i just discovered that my next tutorial.

happy sewing!!!