Wednesday, April 16, 2014

things I learned in Brasil

  1. Portuguese words are pronounced exactly unlike Spanish words.
  2. As you drive for the first time around Rio you will be continually boring your companion by saying “Wow, look at that beautiful mountain. And that mountain! WOW! Look at that exotic plant I’ve never seen before in my life with tentacles and blooms as big as my head. WOWEE ZOWEE, look at that gorgeous perfect crescent beach with artfully placed islands in the distance!”
  3. As you drive for the first time around Rio you will also be continually covering your eyes and saying “Holy cow, is it legal to drive like that here? Holy COW watch out for that suicidal pedestrian! HOLY COW look at that guy on a motorcycle who is texting and simultaneously driving over the hood of that taxi!”
  4. Carry extra batteries for your camera. You will want to photograph everything.
  5. Say bone JEEuh, not bom dia, Gringo.
  6. Do not miss the Hippie Feira on Sunday in Ipanema. If you're crafty like that. (You are.)
  7. Toilet paper is not supposed to go in the toilet. Let me say that again. Toilet paper. Is not supposed to go in the toilet.
  8. Eat. Much. Fruit. Stuff it in. And then eat more. And then order it in the form of fresh juice. In short, you will miss the fruit.
  9. Say HAY-eyes, not reais, Gringo.
  10. Do not expect central air conditioning anywhere you go. Dress for the Sahara. But fabulous.
  11. The elaborate graffiti murals will provide much interest and opportunity to discuss man's inhumanity to man while you are stuck in traffic.
  12. All plant lifeforms have been supersized there.
  13. Acquire a best friend who has taken two years of Portuguese lessons.
  14. You will need to purchase many pairs of Havaianas.
  15. The water at Prainha Beach is very very very very bracing.
  16. You will be going around humming Astrud Gilberto and Barry Manilow songs to yourself a lot. This is OK.
  17. Brazilians have perfected the art of beans and rice. Enjoy whenever possible.
  18. If a vendor offers to puncture a chilled green coconut for you say 'SIM, por favor'.
  19. Wall outlets look like smiley faces. They are cute. But they won’t fit your plug. Bring adapters so you can plug in your curling iron.
  20. But seriously don’t even bother plugging in your curling iron. 240% humidity.
  21. There is a curious lack of pepper in Brasil. Salt. But no pepper. Por que no pepper?
  22. Say deshCOOLpuh not desculpe, Gringo.
  23. If someone offers to treat you to breakfast at Escola do Pão, thank your lucky stars, skip dinner, clear your morning, and wear your stretchy pants.
  24. Thalita's new house is beautiful and gives me many ideas for decorating. Her babies are beautiful too. Obrigada, Thalita! So wonderful to finally meet you in person.
  25. Many interesting and sparkly minerals are mined in Brasil. Go see them at Legep.
  26. Lizards are no longer cute when they are near your pillow at night. Not even a little.
  27. Yes, absolutely ride up those mountains to Cristo Redentor and Pão de Açúcar. So awesome. Mind the gap.
  28. Say cah-FAY comb LAychi, not café com leite, Gringo.
  29. Beautiful black and white mosaic tile artwork? Yeah, that's just a sidewalk in Rio.
  30. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen. All over. Two layers. Including your tongue. Not really. But yes.
  31. Papaya ice cream with cassis? Duh.
  32. If you stand still for too long in Centro you will be spray painted. And possibly mugged. Very probably mugged.
  33. Highway lane markings are more like lane suggestions.
  34. 'I drink your milkshake' t-shirts exist.
  35. Despite the chaotic freestyle driving, I never saw any road rage. Take note of that, Atlanta.
  36. Monkeys the size of squirrels. Let me say that again. ADORABLE, tufted, stripey-tailed monkeys the size of squirrels.
  37. Make sure your fingers are holding some banana if they get anywhere near the squirrel sized monkey.
  38. Do not fail to go to Paraty if at all possible.
  39. Say PadaCHEE not Paraty, Gringo.
  40. People from Buenos Aires named Maximilian and Noelia are awesome and will give you their cool pink fedora to protect your gringo head from the sun because they are super nice.
  41. Lumpy milk does not necessarily indicate a problem.
  42. If you hear the entire neighborhood screaming from their balconies do not be alarmed. Flamengo just scored. 
  43. 'Tudo bem' is both a question and the answer to that question. 
  44. That's not how you say it though. Haha.
  45. Keep your disk on the green side and nod YES to whatever skewered creature the waiters bring to your table at Barra Grille. You can diet later. 
  46. Rio is big. No, like BIG big. No, like BIG BIG big.
  47. Brasil has more natural beauty than any place I've ever seen ever.
  48. People named Wander and Dora are wonderful, good hearted, giving folks, and will bring you to tears by praying with you in Portuguese before your flight home. Muito obrigada, Wander.
  49. Despite economic problems, the people of Brasil are fiercely patriotic and loyal to their country. The Brazilian flag is flown everywhere and is on everything and people proudly wear it without irony. Let's take a page from their book, USA.
  50. Robyn Howe is not only my best friend and the world's most generous hostess, she is an unparalleled travel/sight-seeing/entertainment/dining planner. How can I thank you enough, Bob? Not possible.
I'm tired, tanned and very thankful to God for a safe journey there and back. More photos to come.

Monday, April 14, 2014

interview with Danielle at limefish studio

Danielle of Limefish Studio contacted me recently to do a quick email interview about my Etsy business and I was happy to oblige!


Danielle dabbles in just about anything creative including graphic design, painting, photography and handmade crafts. Her blog features an Etsy spotlight once a month and I was delighted to be asked for April. Thanks, Danielle! Follow this link to read the interview.

Monday, April 7, 2014

making a self-drafted top

I've long wanted to try a top similar to ones I've made for my girls from a Japanese pattern book. I drafted an adult-sized version that will hopefully work and am busy sewing it up in this light and floaty Amy Butler voile. Crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

mr wormy apple gift tag tutorial

Cute gift tags are fun. Y'all know I love making gift tags that double as cards (like this and this). I'm all about two birds with one stone. This is my latest iteration for kids' gifts, and includes a bonus -- a cute, poseable toy worm to play with after the party is over. Here's a how-to for you.

You'll need:
  • This template
  • Letter sized 8.5 x 11 in. red card stock
  • scraps of green, black and white card stock
  • paper glue and fabric glue (like Fabri-Tac®)
  • a toothpick
  • a standard 1/4 in. hole punch and a 1/8 in. hole punch
  • scissors
  • bone folder or butter knife for scoring
  • two pipe cleaners, one green and one yellow
  • one small green pom and one red mini-pom
  • two 1/4 in. googly eyes
  • piece o' tape
  • gel pen
  • string for tying tag (I like pretty baker's twine)

1) Print the template at actual size (no scaling) on your red card stock. You'll have enough to make two tags. Cut out one rectangle and set the other aside for later. Cut out the leaf template and set aside.

2) Use your bone folder or butter knife to score the fold on the apple card. Fold the rectangle in half and cut the apple shape out, being sure to leave the connected parts uncut so your card will open and close. Then flip it inside out so any stray toner marks will be on the inside.

3) Use the leaf template to trace a leaf on green card stock. Use the bone folder to score a line down the middle. Cut out the leaf and erase any stray pencil marks. Fold it along the score.

4) Use the standard 1/4 in. hole punch to make a nice worm hole in the top apple layer only, as shown.

5) Cut out a small rectangle from black card stock to use as a stem. Glue the stem at a jaunty angle to the back of the apple.

6) Dot a small amount of glue to the bottom corner edge of the leaf and place it as shown.

 7) Use the standard 1/4 in. hold punch to make one circle of white for a nice shiny highlight. Use the toothpick to dot on some paper glue and stick it toward the top right as shown.

8) Now for Mr Wormy. Cut a 5 inch piece from both pipe cleaners. Set the extra pieces aside to make another Mr Wormy later. Twist the pipe cleaners together to create a stripey body. On the tail end, fold over the very ends and crimp firmly so they will stay wound together and there will be no sharp wires poking out.

9) Add a nice dot of fabric glue to the green pom and stick the sharp ends of the worm neck inside the pom through the glue. Hold in place for a minute so it will set.

10) Use a toothpick to add dots of fabric glue to the other side of the pom so you can attach the red mini-pom nose and the two googly eyes. I like to say googly eyes. Googly eyes!

11)  Now's the time to write a name on the outside of the card and a greeting on the inside. I like to use a white gel pen. It looks nice.

12) Punch a 1/8 in. hole in the top of the stem for the baker's twine or string.

13) Feed the tail end of Mr Wormy through the worm hole until you have just the right amount showing outside the card. Have fun bending his head into a charming angle. Tape the end of the worm to the inside of the card so he stays in place until the gift giving is over.

That's it! All that's left is to tie your awesome, handmade, googly-eyed Mr Wormy gift tag to your present and congratulate yourself on saving a trip to the card store. (high five self)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

guess where Larissa is going?

That's right. I'm going to go to there. Me. Soon.

Overly excited here. Also freaked out a little, I have to admit. It's a whole other hemisphere. I began my packing panic weeks in advance. If you are going to do a thing, do it thoroughly I always say. See you soon, Robyn! EEEEEEE!

Monday, March 24, 2014

test miette

I've been busy making, schooling, and also took some time this past weekend to attend the homeschool convention in Greenville, SC. What a blessing and encouragement that was for this home schooling mom who is busy second guessing herself all the time. I feel like God led me right to the sensible women I most needed to talk with and get my focus and confidence back. Amen. It was pretty awesome, and I'm so glad I got to spend time with fellow homeschoolers and girlfriends Tiffany and Dawn. Road trip!

Above is my test run of the Miette wrap skirt pattern from lovely, talented and annoyingly wasp-waisted Tilly. She looks so wonderful in her Miette and I love the retro pockets on hers. Mine is sans pockets because I wanted to 1) get on with it 2) cut down on the bulk and tie mine on the side instead. I'm a side tie-r. Tier? Tyer. Tie-er. Hmm. Maybe not a word. One who ties. Anyways, not a big fan of centered bows. It's a great pattern by the way. Very easy to size correctly because all you need to do is measure your waist. I'm trying to drop a few pounds, which makes a wrap skirt a nice choice because the fit is adjustable. I'm hoping I'll get to cinch it tighter in a few weeks. My Schmoopie dearest needs to stop buying ice cream.

For the test run I used a cheap, eye-smartingly red cotton that I dug up from the stash but it was pretty thin and flimsy, so I ended up lining it with a handy bedsheet that was also in the stash. The lining makes it a great weight and drape but it really should be red instead of white. C'est la vie.

I'm currently making a second Miette in this great dark blue, knobbly, denim linen-blend I have in my stash and lining it with actual (matching) polyester satin lining fabric in case I want to wear it with tights. Hmm. It's a darker blue than it seems in this photo.

If you are wondering, progress on the Partridge and Pear pattern is indeed stalled. I am trying to get just the right universal method for transferring the embroidery pattern reliably and easily to felt. I've run into an obstacle to that which I need to drop back and figure out and in the process I have completely lost my momentum. I'll revisit it in a few weeks with fresh eyes. I do apologize and it will be a better pattern as a result, I promise.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

things I think about at breakfast

I would like to have been in the room during the branding and marketing meeting for this new wheat/barley/soy breakfast cereal. I imagine it went something like:

"Well, it's ready for production. We need a catchy name though. Yes, Smidley?"

"We should call it Healthy Nuggets. They look like little rocks, but they are good for you."

"Hmm. Has potential. Doesn't sound great tasting though. And nuggets is too countryfied. It doesn't play well in focus groups."

"Hey, how about nuts instead of nuggets? It's shorter and catchier. Still crunchy, and healthy but not too hicksville."

"Yes. Nuts, I like it!"

"OK, so it's Health Nuts! hahahahaha." (General amusement around table)

"Haha, yes, funny, but no. We need to add something that makes it sound tasty as well as healthy. People like the idea of healthy but we all know that what they really buy into is tasty."

"OK, so maybe something sweet? But still healthy. Like fruit."

"Yes, brilliant, some kind of fruit."

(Tentative hand raised from college intern in corner.) "Uuuumm but there is no fruit in it? Um, or nuts? Isn't that kind of, you know, misleading?"

(Silence in room. Significant looks.)

"Go get us all some coffee, would ya, kid?" (Door shuts behind intern. General amusement erupts.)

"OK, back to making money. Gimme a fruit that sounds catchy with nuts."

"Apples! Apple Nuts!"

"That's got potential."


"No, too tropical."

"Raisins? That's safe."

"No no no, they would expect to see actual raisins in there. It's no good. What else?"

"Well, what about grapes? They are sweet. Nonthreatening. They sound healthy but they taste really great. Everyone likes them. And no one would expect to have actual grapes in the box."

(Head nodding, general agreement.)

"Yes, Smidley?"

"And it kinda rhymes with great! Like you'd say Grape Nuts but what you'd really be thinking is GREAT Nuts!"

(Glancing at watch.) "Sold."