Crazy for Sewing

I’m so thoroughly enjoying my latest sewing projects. It has been a very busy week-and-a-half and I was ready to catch up on some sewing this weekend. Today also happens to be my birthday and my dear husband gave me the day off, which I spent sewing up a new project I’ve been dying to try.

Before I get to my recent batch of projects, a little while ago I made another Essential Wristlet from Dog Under My Desk (the first one I made was for my daughter). I loved this Chinese lantern fabric, and I paired it up with a yellow and red small print fabric.


I’ve been using it for my chequebook and some small knitting supplies (stitch markers, cable needles; the knitting itself I carry in my drawstring bag but the little items get lost in there).

While I was busy with back-to-back work assignments, I took mental breaks by browsing around the Dog Under My Desk site thinking about which projects I wanted to try next (I’m a bit obsessed with her stuff right now). Aside from the amazing full patterns she sells, she has a number of tutorials on her site. This one, for the Neat and Tidy zippered pouches, caught my eye because she had mentioned that she uses them for small items in her purse, which not only makes them easier to find but allows her to switch purses much more easily. I thought this was an excellent idea.

See, I  carry around a large, sturdy woven basket as a purse. It looks kind of like this one:

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I love it, especially because it stands up when I put it down and it holds a lot. I can fit in my knitting, a book, snacks for the kids, wet wipes, and water bottles. But smaller things tend to get lost in there. Plus, sometimes I don’t need to bring all that stuff with me, and it would be handy if I could easily switch to a smaller bag when needed. Speaking of which, it would be nice to have a smaller bag!

So when I finally got some sewing time, I made this zippered pouch, which I am now using to carry my lip balms (I have some Burts Bees lip shimmers in different shades and my go-to vanilla mint lip balm). It measures 4″ x 6″. I’m dying to make more of these – one for my headphones, another for cards I don’t use often, etc.



Then I decided to try making a messenger bag. I intended to make one for Miss Em but I thought I’d try one for myself first using some fabric I already had. The pattern was a freebie from No Time to Sew (rumour has it that Dog Under My Desk is working on a messenger bag pattern – stay tuned!). It worked out fine – and I was especially proud of all the pockets – but when I tried to use the bag I found that it didn’t work very well for me. It’s too floppy (my local fabric store doesn’t carry any name brand interfacing so I’m left to guess what will work best) and the flap just seemed to get in my way.



After that I made another drawstring bag. I’m loving the one I already have, and have wished a few times that I had more. The first one was about 7″ W x 10″ T. This one was 9″ W x 12″ T. I have more of these planned – they’re proving to be very handy.



Finally, for my birthday sewing project today I made the Zip And Go bag from Dog Under My Desk. When I run into a store, like the bagel shop or the grocery store, I really just need my wallet and phone. This is the perfect bag for that. I can carry it around in my basket, then pop my wallet and phone in it, put it over my shoulder, and enjoy some hands-free shopping. (The need for such a thing became particularly apparent to me over Christmas when I unknowingly dropped my wallet, which I was carrying under my arm as I juggled some bagels, and left it in the parking lot. Thankfully, a good samaritan found it and brought it to the police station where I later picked it up with great relief and gratitude).

I’m really happy with how it turned out. Once again, Erin outdid herself with an excellent pattern that was easy to follow and very fun to make. I feel very accomplished being able to churn out such pretty and practical things with my sewing machine! It holds my wallet and phone perfectly, and I actually can’t wait to go grocery shopping tomorrow!



Now that I’ve discovered I don’t really like the flap-style messenger bag for a purse (I think Miss Em will, though), I’m more convinced than ever to make the Daytripper bag. I think the gusseted zipper is just what I need in a bag.

First, however, I have purchased the Bigger on the Inside drawstring backpack pattern to make a bag for each of the kids. When we go out the kids often have a bunch of things they want to bring into the car – iPads, 3DS games, chargers, etc. – and I end up giving them my cloth grocery bags. They aren’t built to be carried around easily and they end up elsewhere when I get to the grocery store. I thought it would be nice to give them each a bag. The local fabric store had a huge sale last weekend and I picked up some great fabric. Stay tuned for pictures!


Modelling Healthy Choices for the Kids

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It has been several months now since Husband and I began our new health and fitness plan. Hubby has lost almost 100 lbs and I have lost over 15 lbs. I run three times per week and cycle twice a week. Hubby runs or cycles six days a week and has started doing a video fitness program at home as well. It has become just a normal, natural part of our life to count calories and weigh food as we prepare our meals throughout the day. It takes such little extra time, and the results are so very worth it.

Having been so successful in changing our own eating habits, we felt empowered to help our kids. Mr. Boo was an average-weight child until around the age of 6, when he began to gain weight. He’s now 9 years old and, while very tall for his age (just shy of 5 feet), is quite overweight, clocking in at just over 100 lbs. He likes his food, especially treats, and he doesn’t like sports. Carrying around extra weight doesn’t make moving your body much fun, either.

And so we decided to put him on our health and fitness plan. He’s watched us on our journey and we asked him about following our plan. We discussed it with him, presented the risks associated with childhood obesity, and stuck to an emphasis on health rather than looks or body image. He seemed quite keen on the idea. We started a food journal in which we log what he eats, and set a goal for him based on a calculation of his daily caloric needs (his goal is < 1650 calories per day). If he meets his goal, his reward is a miniature chocolate bar for dessert (60 calories).


We’ve been doing this for about a month now and couldn’t be happier with the results. Not only has he lost 2 lbs, a very healthy rate of loss (~ 0.5 lbs per week) but we can see that we are establishing healthy habits that will serve him well for the rest of his life. He now reads nutritional labels and makes choices based on calorie content. He helps prepare his food, weighing out the ingredients and calculating portion size. We help by presenting choices when he’s hungry, and laying out the consequences of those choices in terms of what he can eat later. He’s learning that he likes to have a big meal at the start of his day, a small snack midway, and a good size dinner. He also likes to save room for an extra dessert, and will often forgo a second sandwich, for example, for a banana and some yogurt instead so that he can have that extra treat later on. One day he announced that he wanted to eat a whole pizza for dinner and asked for help in choosing some healthy, low calorie options for breakfast and lunch.

He’s also beginning to see exercise as something positive because it buys you more calories (up until now, the word “exercise” was met with groans and protests). This evening we attended the first night of a new drop-in gymnastics program at our local community centre, where the kids get two hours of free, supervised time on the equipment (trampolines, etc). It’s one of the few activities he has always enjoyed and he was particularly pleased that all that fun meant he could have a treat on the way home from the gym (he carefully read the labels in making his decision).


To make this as easy on ourselves and him as possible, and given his extremely limited diet due to his sensory issues around food, we decided that “any kind of food goes” so long as it fits within his goals. It’s not what a lot of people would think of as “healthy” eating – it includes hot dogs and McDonalds cheeseburgers, and yet we still see that he is learning about making good food choices for his body. We’ve had a couple of interesting conversations about what a body needs to be healthy and grow, and why some foods are so high in calories while others are low. What we’ve all learned is that when you are looking to get the most food satisfaction “bang” for your caloric “buck” it pays to stay away from the really junky stuff. One bag of of potato chips, for example, is more than an entire cheese and liverwurst sandwich (despite his picky eating habits, the kid loves liver sausage). The sandwich will keep him full for some time and provide his body with protein, healthy animal fats, iron, and other nutrients he needs. But with the chips, he’ll be hungry soon after eating them, and they really only provide carbohydrates (which turn to fat if not needed for energy) and some not-so-healthy hydrogenated vegetable-based fats.

Miss Em is not officially on the plan – she is only mildly overweight and is independent enough that it would be difficult to monitor her food intake as closely. She has definitely been paying attention to what we are all doing, however, and she has expressed some interest in considering calorie content, although she is not prepared to take on calorie tracking just yet. She has made an effort to work more exercise into her week, going on bike rides or long walks to the local corner store. Kids watch what adults do and I know even if she doesn’t follow us right now, we are modelling the route to attaining a healthy weight and being fit so that when and if she decides in the future to do something about it, she’ll know how.

It’s a good feeling to take charge of your health, to be at a healthy body weight, to enjoy being active, and to feel good in your body. Hubby and I are pleased enough that we’ve been able to do so for ourselves, but seeing our son embracing this lifestyle and learning to make healthy choices for himself, is truly rewarding.