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  • Photo by Amanda Pinprick

    Sewing can be intimidating, but few basic tips can make that apprehension disappear. In this post I will describe a few topics that will not only help the appearance of a sewing project, but increase the durability and will help make things easier. Some of these things are topics I have wrote about on my own blog, trailscrafts.com, and some are new.

    1. Know Your Sewing Machine. All sewing machines are different. Whether you purchased your machine new or used, it's important to have a manual. Usually you can find it online if one did not come with the machine. Knowing the functions of the machine will help through any project. Also, it's very important to keep your machine properly oiled. The manual for the machine will say which parts need to be oiled and how to get to them. It's also good to have extra parts of the wearable items. For instance, the bobbin case. Over time the screw that adjusts the tension on the bobbin thread will move. Some sewing machine manufacturers tell you that you'll never have to adjust the bobbin tension, and that the bobbin case comes adjusted from the factory, but anyone who has had to adjust the tiny screw several times in a row and still not have the tension quite right, knows how frustrating it can be to fix a bobbin case that is not adjusted correctly.

  • What’s America’s favorite way to eat leftover Thanksgiving turkey? You guessed it: in a sandwich. Specifically, “The-Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich.” Yes, its got an official name.

    While variations exist, this sandwich generally consists of thick slabs of toasted white bread covered with a mountain of leftover turkey meat, mashed potatoes or stuffing, cranberry sauce, and brown gravy.

    It’s colossal. It’s comforting. It’s as American as apple pie. But a whole lot better.

  • When Jenn Erickson (Rook No. 17) emailed me with a link to her review for Microcrafts by Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and Margaret McGuire, I was positively blown away. Instead of simply crafting what was in the book, she took Sarah Goldschadt's precious little owlies and made something entirely her own.

    An owlie mobile.

    "My girls had ½ days at school last week," she wrote in her email, "so we finally had time to slow down and spend two entire afternoons on our first project from Microcrafts. The girls chose the mini owls, and we turned both into mobiles. We’re looking forward to making more crafts from the book over the holidays.

    Jenn was kind enough to share her photos with us. Have a look at them after the jump, and be sure to visit her wonderful blog.


  • After all the hours you've spent cooking Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you're not in the mood to scrounge for ingredients or run to the grocery store to ready your next meal. And let's face it, you've got tons of leftovers. With this recipe, you’ll have everything at your fingertips. This is the best casserole you can make with everything that’s left over from Thanksgiving.

    Just heat up a bit of butter in a skillet. Throw it all in: celery, turkey, sausages, green peas, carrots, corn... even the gravy. And those croutons? Crush them and top the layer of mashed potatoes with the crumbs. Bake quickly. It’ll come out bubbly, crusty, buttery and packed with all the flavors of a perfect holiday feast. It’s easy and quick.

  • When I show people my miniature creations I often hear, “You must have a lot of patience!" I have no more natural ability to be patient than anyone else. Patience is a learned skill and we are all capable of learning. I don‘t have any special capacity for patience, but I do practice it quite often. As most of us already know - you get good at what you practice.

    I would like to share some of my own tips for cultivating patience while working on miniature craft projects. Three strategies that have been helpful to me in my crafting include letting go of expectations, being open to learning, and walking away. I hope that these suggestions will help to get you through the inevitable frustrating moments of crafting on a miniature scale.

    1. My first tip for practicing patience is to let go of expectations that your project will turn out perfectly. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, but it’s also important to remember that crafting is about learning and having fun. When I let go of my ideas about what my finished project should look like, I am able to enjoy the process of creating without the fear of imperfection hanging over my head. Art projects tend to have a life of their own. Trying to force creativity into a fixed and rigid end product not only takes away the fun of creating it also sets up the perfect storm for frustration, disappointment and impatience. So, my first tip is to just have fun with your Microcrafting, and not worry too much about what your project will look like in the end.

    2. The second tip I have for practicing patience in creative endeavors is to remember that you are learning. No matter how many years I have been creating miniature projects I am still always open to learning. Every time I sit down to create something I know that I might learn something new in the process. Remaining open to learning helps keep my attitude enthusiastic. Patience comes most naturally to me when I am open to whatever might happen during the process of crafting. If I make a mistakes while in that open enthusiastic mode, I am able to view fixing them as opportunities to learn something new. Not only does being open to learning help you to experience patience, it also helps you to grow as an artist and crafter.

    3. One last tip I would like to share is that sometimes it’s best to just walk away. When I feel myself becoming frustrated or impatient with my project often the best course of action is to take a deep breath and set my creation aside for a bit. I seem to make most of my mistakes when I work on projects while feeling impatient or frustrated. When I start feeling like I should chuck my project into the trash bin it is usually a good idea to take a deep breath and do something else for awhile. When I return to my project after taking such a break I find a renewed happiness for the work and a fresh perspective on whatever was tripping me up. A break can go a long way toward keeping you from giving in to impatience and throwing in the proverbial towel.

    I hope that you all have a wonderful time creating your own versions of the projects from the Microcrafts book. I’m sure that practicing patience will help you get through any rough spots you might encounter and allow you to fully experience the joy of creating. Have fun Microcrafters!

  • In most parts of the world, apples are abundant and sweet this time of year. You know what's also probably still abundant and sweet? All that leftover Halloween candy you've got piled up, that you keep eating for breakfast on your way out the door. Don't deny it, I'm onto you.

    If you're growing tired of all that unnatural, corn-syrup filled sweetness, maybe its time to go with something a little more homemade, fairly healthy and just as sweet.

    Behold, apple pancakes. With apple slices, plump raisins and crunchy walnuts, this apple-licious recipe (adapted from Recipes Every Man Should Know by Susan Russo & Brett Cohen) is sure to please. Just whisk, mix, pour and watch the griddle transform the batter into a delicious breakfast treat.


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