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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Keeping My Head Dry Doesn't Mean I Don't Care

I love my friends.  I do appreciate them calling me out to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but please let me explain why I refuse to participate.

I am a nurse practitioner and a former ER and hospice nurse.  I have watched patients die of this terrible disease.  I was there to bear witness of the pain in families eyes when they felt helpless.  I was there to feed, change diapers, medicate, and provide TOTAL CARE to patients.  This disease is TERRIBLE.  It takes away your independence... and eventually, your life.  Unmercifully, not soon enough. If you can imagine losing the use of your muscles, you would only visualize a portion of what this disease is like.  Keep in mind that your bowels, heart, and lungs all work with muscles.  No holding a fork, no scratching that itch.

According to alsa.org, donations this month have skyrocketed, thanks to social media.  Launching the challenge on August 6, 2014, donations continue to climb.  The website reports $31.5M on Aug 20, $41.8M on Aug 21, $53.3M on Aug 22, $62.5M on Aug 23, and $70.2M on Aug 24.  That is amazing.  I pray the money is used wisely.

As a proponent for human life, I am an opponent of using human embryos for study.  ALSA is open about their use of human embryos for study, but does state it raises "ethical concerns."

Besides the ethical concerns, when has asking for donations turned into bullying?  "People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both."  I'm not sure I agree with that.  I want to donate to a cause that I feel strongly about, but I don't want to be "forced" do do it or made to feel less than human if I don't.  I have charities that I support.

With that being said, I'm not trying to encourage you not to donate.  Pray about it.  Research it for yourself.  If you feel led to donate, please do.  As I said earlier in this blog, I have seen what this terrible disease does to the body and to the lives of the people who are fighting it.  I've watched them give up.

If you decide to donate to other organizations and don't know where to start, I've listed some that I have donated to and feel strongly about.  There is no pressure for you to donate, but if you do, please research for yourself.  I won't throw anything on you, inflict any harm, or make you feel bad if you don't.

Sav-A-Life - No matter which side of the "Choice" debate you are on, I think we can all agree that women can only make the right "choice" if she is well educated.  They educate women and provide counseling as well as free pregnancy and STD testing.  Ultrasound machines are used in their assessment and education.  They also provide ongoing care to women and men.  What if the cure for ALS or cancer is discovered by one of those saved?  What if it was going to be discovered by one that wasn't?

Hospice - donating to a hospice of your choice provides patients with end-of-life medical care and supplies that are greatly needed

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition -  Are you aware that most women who are diagnosed are already in stage 3?

Autism Speaks -  Raising awareness and research.

The Urban Alternative - Connects with schools and the community

Focus on the Family - Read what they are about. This includes parenting, counseling, marriage, and faith.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pickled Tomatoes

Pickled tomatoes. Can you believe it? Yes, I love pickles, but this seems a little over the top, you think? Naaaah... Let's go for it.

My grape tomato plants are working overtime. I'm also a klutz. What do these two things have in common? Lots of ripe and green grape tomatoes that need eating. I knocked a bunch off my plants when I was moving around in my garden and it is not possible for me to wait for them all to ripen. The ripe ones will spoil if I wait.

Searching high and low, I found a recipe that sounded similar to what I was looking for, thanks to Pretty Prudent. Although I followed the recipe very closely, I had to give it my own spin.

This recipe makes 3 or 4 pints, depending on how tightly you pack your tomatoes, as well as their size. You will also get some evaporation during the simmering process.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 Cups Water
2 Tablespoons Pickling Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
6 Whole Peppercorns
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
3 to 4 Pints Grape/Cherry Tomatoes - Various Stages of Ripening

TIP: 2 Pints = 1 Quart

Prepare your pint or quart jars by washing in warm soapy water and boiling for 10 minutes. Or, since we aren't canning these, you may use the sanitize function on your dishwasher instead.

Wash tomatoes well and use a skewer or, like I did, a Pampered Chef Hold 'N Slice to poke holes through the tomatoes. I pierced them on 2 sides, going over half way through each time.  The green tomatoes are tough so be cautious and don't poke your hand.




Pack the holey (not to be confused with holy) tomatoes into the prepared jars.

Mix vinegar, water, and seasonings in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes to blend the seasonings. Cool to room temperature and pour over tomatoes.

You may use a fermenting weight to hold the tomatoes down, if you have any that try to float.

Since we are not canning these, I used a plastic Ball storage lid, but you may use a canning 2 piece lid (may be used previously) and band.


Store in refrigerator. I have recently made these, but Pretty Prudent says they will store refrigerated for months.

Wait at least 5 days to a week before tasting. The green tomatoes take a little longer to absorb the seasonings and vinegar. Delicious!

Again, Pretty Prudent suggests using them in salads, pasta salads, cheese plates, relish for burgers and hot dogs, martini and bloody Mary garnish.  I have been eating them right out of the jar, however, they make great garnishes as well as gifts.

I have never canned a tomato with its skin on. I suppose it would become tough. I always recommend tried and true recipes for long-term storage. Recipes from Ball or your local extension office are good places to start. Most tomato recipes that I use require adding lemon juice concentrate (Tablespoon per pint) and processing in a boiling water canner for 45 minutes, which I would think would not give you the consistency you would want in a tomato pickle.

 Good luck!






Friday, July 25, 2014

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me

Living on a small farm comes with perks, and pests. Poo, like rabbit and chicken poo will work wonders for your garden, but it sure does draw the pests. House flies love it. They can find it from miles around (I am sure).  What can we do about it? Trap them!

Sure, eliminating the poo would be ideal, but not possible. Besides, my worms would not appreciate it and my plants would not be as green. 

Making a fly trap is easy! 

You will need:
A plastic 2 liter soda bottle
Sturdy tape, such as duct tape or packaging tape
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Syrup - maple, pancake syrup, or dark corn syrup
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Water
Drop of Dish Soap

Easy Directions
Cut the top off the soda bottle at the "shoulders" so it will invert and fit down inside the bottom part of the bottle. Kitchen shears work great. 

Mix the sugar, syrup, and apple cider vinegar in the bottom part of the bottle. Stir well until all ingredients are dissolved.

Add a drop of liquid dish soap.
Invert the top of the bottle and place on the lower portion, lining up the cut areas. 

Use tape to secure all the way around. Do not leave any gaps. Carefully add water to bring the liquid level up to about 1 1/2 inches below the opening of the bottle.

Place your trap in areas you have fly problems. 

When full, or just extremely gross, toss/recycle and make another. 

Some of the liquid will evaporate, as you can see in the picture. But, how gross is that?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stop Facebook Game Requests

I see ill comments coming across my Facebook news feed all the time, made by friends who are fed up with game request notifications and the constant flashing lights on their phones. I admit it, I play Candy Crush, but I too hate the game requests that blow up my phone.

People who play games will get game requests in-app, so this feature is really useless to the player, unless they are waiting on something (like in-game help) or want to try new games and like to know what their friends are playing.  Notifications are not for everyone, including me.

Yesterday, I discovered, while I was driving and my daughter and her boyfriend were sitting in the car with me, I was sending game requests to them! I had not played yesterday and I certainly didn't send it while driving!

For some reason, the game requests must send automatically and if you don't want them, don't get upset with your Facebook friends, simply turn the game requests off.

Here's how...

You must use a browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) on a phone/tablet/computer to do this.
It will not work with the FB app.

1) Find the drop down menu on the top right of the screen, click or tap it, then choose settings.


2) On the left side of the screen, find and click/tap notifications

3) Under App requests and activity, you will see check marks beside the games you are getting requests from.  Uncheck the ones you don't want.  You may have to choose Show More to get them all while you are here.

Viola! Done... No more requests... unless it is some new game your friend is playing and it wasn't listed here and Facebook wants to blow your phone up again. :) In that case, repeat steps 1-3 and get those new ones out of there.

Here's my disclaimer: Facebook changes things all the time, so please disable your game requests before this tutorial becomes obsolete.






Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tickle Your Funny Bone

As a medical professional and a fellow mom... I get it.
I am on Instagram, just to follow my children.  I am not savvy with it and I don't pretend to be.  I can Facebook better than most of the teenagers around me and often get asked advice.  Don't ask my advice on Instagram.

I totally get it.

Go pee before you read this.

http://www.grass-stains.com/2012/06/how-not-to-use-instagram.html?m=1#comment-725114335


How Not To Use Instagram by Grass Stains

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vermicomposting Blog Party

I've never hosted a blog party before... go figure!  So, here it goes with Link Party #1

This link up is to share your vermicomposting ideas.  I want to know how you grow your worms, how you recycle your waste with worms, and what methods work for you.

Link your blog by clicking the link below!  Make sure to link the post and not your main page.  You may be featured on Cackleberries!!

There are four simple rules to my link up parties. 

1. Follow me and notify me that you are following by leaving a comment.  I LOVE COMMENTS!

2. Visit at least 3 party participant's blogs.  That's easy!

3. Link, link, link.... that's what makes this fun.  Share to social media.

4. Don't forget to grab my Name Dropper button if your blog is featured.

   

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What's that Font?

If you follow me, you know I love to get crafty.  I use one of those electronic cutters with some computer software that lets me use any font I have installed on my computer.  If you know me, you will know that I have HUNDREDS of fonts.

I use my cutter to cut out fabric for applique and quilting.  I cut vinyl for decals and I cut paper for scrapbooking.  Cutting out letters in different fonts are probably the number one thing I cut out.

Here's my problem... Going through every font to see which one I like the best is for the birds!

Well..... KUDOS to WORDMARK

Wordmark is an online tool that allows you to see all your fonts.  All you do is type the word in the little square at the top and then click "Load Fonts" and viola! The word appears in every font you have.  The best part? It is FREE!  Visit their ads, visit their page and give them a big thank you!!

I just typed "Jill Dunn" in the little box, and look at that! I am just giddy right now! Gotta go cut out some letters!!

click photo to enlarge

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cloth Pads


I understand this post isn't for everyone.  This is not a new idea people...

Women have used these since the beginning of time. (Thanks Eve.)

I just want to make you aware that there are alternatives out there and give you something to ponder.

So, here it goes...
*Cotton is more natural than sodium polyacrylate and dioxin, common ingredients found in disposable pads.
*Most of us own a washing machine.
*Cloth pads are super cute, customizable to person, needs, color, size, shape, thickness, length, material, flow, etc...
*It is your body, take charge of it.

If any of the above statements and/or links didn't convince you to switch or, at least, keep an open mind, read this article. The problem for me is that there isn't enough concrete research on this to "prove" how potentially harmful disposable pads are in order for me to say with certainty that they should not be used.  As a nurse practitioner, I want research studies, evidenced based practice to back up my beliefs, patients who report their stories in a medical journal.  I just can't find any.

Think about this. (Just playing the Devil's advocate here.) Studies are often driven by money, correct?  Well, if millions of women are paying big money for "necessary items," why study something that will hurt that income?  I do hope it makes you think.

However, I did find many, many blogs by women who are so obsessed with cloth pads and the benefits of them, they blog about it! Some rave of comfort and some rave of cuteness.  Some want to save money. Some write about it changing their life; less cramps, less pain, less flow, shorter menses duration. Others just want to put less garbage in the landfill while watering their gardens with the wash waste water (not for me), but whatever blows your dress.

Personally, I think the more natural something is, the better.  If you are having any of the above mentioned problems, research or not, what does it hurt to try?  Do your own experimenting.

I probably should mention that these are also really great for occasional bladder leakage.  I have made some for an older family member who is on a tight budget and she loves them.

If you are worried about dye in the cute patterns, use organic, natural material that has not been dyed. Again, customizable. :)

From researching this topic (reading many, many bogs), here's what I have learned about constructing a cloth pad. You decide what your needs are.

You can use used material such as shirts, wash cloths, blankets, etc. Wash it thoroughly first!
Thorough descriptions of some materials linked here.

There are a lot of styles out there.  Whether you are purchasing or making our own, explore different styles to see what you like and what will best suit your needs. Here's a few from other sites:

(I have no affiliation with these sites.  I'm just trying to put all the info I find into one place for you. There are probably hundreds of sellers out there as well as people who post their own patterns to buy or for free. I have linked these images to their sources as a courtesy to the stores for using their images.  Feel free to post your own links too!)

These, from Luna Pads, have exchangeable pads made separate from the wings held in place with rickrack. You just change out the pad during the day and keep the wings in place. Some designs like this allow you to stack multiple pads on the wings so you can adjust your flow. I have seen this design in square pads also.
Glad Rags have wings that double as pockets and stacking multiple pads inside the wings can adjust the absorbency.
Etsy, as well as eBay, are also a great places to order from individuals and to get ideas to create your own.  A quick search will quickly give you lots of ideas.


The thing to remember is you can customize.  Don't make a hundred pads before you try out the style.

When creating your own, here's the materials that are recommended.  Of course, you can mix and match the materials.  When I made them, I used flannel for the entire wing, top and bottom, with a lining of PUL so the urine would not leak through the pad and/or wings onto her garments.  I was afraid the PUL would be too sticky or hot if touching her skin, so I put it between the flannel. 

Top Layer Materials
Think absorbancy/wicking and softness because this layer is next to your skin
Minky - soft, short pile that wicks to inner layer
Cotton 100%
Jersey
Fleece - wicks through it to absorb it into middle layer (helps keep top dry next to skin)
Flannel
Velour (try for 80% cotton or bamboo in this polyester blend) - wicks and feels dryer than flat fabrics
Rayon
Organics such as bamboo, hemp, linen, ramie
Felt - not as popular, but wicks through and resists stains

Middle Layer Materials
Think absorbancy while attempting to keep it thin, but you can use as many layers as you need
This layer can be removable for quick drying. You can put several middle layers into one set of wings (bottom layer) depending on the style of the pad so you can adjust your absorbancy as needed. 
I suggest trying several styles out and even mixing and matching your materials
Cotton quilt batting - stitch it down to prevent bunching
Cotton  - those holey husband's t-shirts need a new use
Terry cloth - those stained, used wash cloths/towels you don't want your guests to see work well
Sherpa
Flannel - great for liner but may need more for heavy flow pad
Double napped flannel
Microfiber - very absorbent, but may need to be changed often

Top Wing Material
This layer will touch your thighs. Waterproofing this layer adds extra undie protection.
Cotton
PUL (polyurethane laminate) - with cotton or polyester side on top (next to skin) and film between top and bottom wing

Moisture Barrier/Waterproofing (optional)
Added between layers of wings OR behind absorbent padding
PUL
Waterproof Polyester
Naprap
Synthetic fleece or wool - not waterproof, but helps while remaining breathable
Ripstop nylon - harder to sew
Felted wool - not recommended for the dryer
Fleece - high quality (Polarfleece or Windbloc)
Procare - less flexible PUL

Bottom Wing Material
Helps keep pad in place
Corduroy - especially if going "wingless"
Cotton
Flannel - helps keep in place due to "stickiness"
Felt - helps "stick" to undies

Fasteners
Snaps (I am a fan of KAM snaps, but use whatever works for you)
Buttons
Velcro
Tabbed wings - wide tab on one wing that slips into a loop on the opposite wing

Helpful tips:
Wash all material before cutting and sewing
Do NOT use fabric softener, it will make fabric less absorbent
I think the best idea for cleaning I have seen is to take a gallon pitcher or decorative pot with lid filled with cool water and a splash of vinegar, if desired, to toss them in until wash day.

When sewing a pad, the easier the better. I basically took an overnight disposable, traced it, modified it, and cut out a pattern.

I hope this post has given you some ideas. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Here are some pattern links to get you started.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I found a really cool blog about soil cube makers.  I am really interested in this and I want to learn more.  Until I can blog about it, here's the link... Daily Bread Living

Soil cubes are are little blocks of soil used to start seeds.  The roots air prune themselves, as long as the cubes are not touching, then the roots can grow into the cube beside it.  It is easier on the plants because there is no root shock when transplanting.  You don't have to peel the bottom off the containers that decompose.

From my various readings, to make soil cubes, you simply mix water with your seed starting soil until it becomes the consistency of oatmeal. I am not interested in using peat, since it is not considered a renewable resource. 

Soil cube makers can save you money since you can use it over and over.

Maybe I will be able to post a tutorial later.  I have tried to contact Daily Bread Living's blogger for more information.

I'll call this entry: To Be Continued...

Photo from http://dailybreadliving.com

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Don't get ticked off... Get the ticks off!

It is a silly title for a not so silly topic. Ticks are not just gross, they can also be dangerous to our pets, as well as us. We have outdoor dogs and no matter what prevention or remedy we try, they still get ticks. I cannot touch them! That is why I got married. Having a handsome, manly man around to do that job is the way to go!  However, my manly man works, so it isn't always possible to have him do it.  I can't stand to leave them attached and alive.

Today, I noticed a very big, blood sucking, disgusting tick inside my dog's ear.  It was one of those that got bigger with each gulp of blood.  Like a balloon from a horror movie. What to do?? I had to take matters into my own hands.

I remembered something about cutting a "v" into the end of a plastic spoon and scoop the tick into the slot to make it come out. I tried that and it worked, but not as well on all the ticks.

I also remember, as a teenager, arriving at the home of the boy I used to babysit just to discover his mom holding a pair of pliers with blood droplets all over them and the front of her shirt.  Do not try to remove these balloon ticks with pliers! They explode!

I opted for my own reinvention.  Grabbing a plain, disposable plastic fork and my kitchen shears, I went to work. I turned this...



Into this...



I suppose I could have left the tines long, but the tick was inside the ear and I couldn't get it into the end of the "v" of the tines. Now, all you have to do is catch the little blood sucker between what is left of the tines and keep pushing it toward the bottom, or the "v" of the tines... Continue on until the tick pops out. It worked great!

I purposely cut them at an angle. It gave me different slot sizes to choose from.

I couldn't get it to work on the flat ticks, but those are okay to grab with the tweezers, before they get engorged.  Just be sure to grab them in the head and not the body. If you squeeze the body, you can make them expell bacteria back into the dogs skin and cause infection.


So, what do you do with the ticks you remove?  If my dad has visited and he pulls it, he tosses it to a chicken.  Problem solved. If removing several, I may get a little cup of bleach and drop them in as I remove them. If it is one big one, I have been known to flush it (picture a huge sewer tick coming back for revenge).  When the ticks are flat and I just remove one, I pinch it between tape and toss it in the trash. This method works well with fleas too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bring Your Own Wine.... DIY Wine Tote Tutorial

Want to make this?? Here's a tutorial on how to do it.  But... please don't freak at the length of this tutorial.  I have not been sewing long and I want people who are just starting out to be able to do this without difficulty so I have included more details than necessary (I'm sure).  No paper pattern needed!

I am part of a girl's group that has Girl's Night Out (GNO) once a month.  Each month has a different theme.  Our game night, was titled "Don't Wine, It is Just a Game" and our St. Patrick's GNO that was titled, "Pot O'Luck."  Yes, I know that is corny, but it was fun.  Don't get me wrong.  We are NOT professionals.  I repeat... NOT professionals.  We aren't exactly sure what the "earthy" or "tannic" descriptors actually taste like, but I will tell you I don't want any that tastes like "cat pee."  (That is a true descriptor.) We have our own score cards that I made myself so we can keep up with what we like and what we don't. 

Here is a picture of our score cards.  They are printed on a 5x8 blank index card.
For GNO, we each bring a bottle of wine to share.  That way we can all taste it, score it (redneck style), and decide if it is something we want to add to our cellar.  Yes, that is our group name... you know that is funny.
Since I am not a wine professional, I wanted to, at least, tote my bottle in style (we are conservative so most of the time we have some to bring back home too).  Computer geek - gone sew crazy style, I searched the internet high and low for ideas and patterns.  I pinned too many to count on my "Little Sips" board on Pinterest and I actually bought two patterns from different sellers on Etsy.  After all my searching, I decided I wanted to try Kathryn Goodman's pattern.  The best part... IT WAS FREE!

Being the rebel that I am, I had to tweak it and make it my own.  I have not been sewing long, but with her simple 15"x15" squares, I could do that math in my head!  Thank you Kathryn Goodman! 
For this project you will need at least two fat quarters, or three if you are going by my pattern redo.  I use fat quarters for everything I can because they are big enough for the little projects I do and they come in all kinds of colors.  Most of the time, I find them for less than $1.

You will also need thread to match and a 15" square of batting.  I have tried it with cotton quilt batting (the brown paisley/flower bag) and firm iron-on stabilizer (the Wino. bag). The stabilizer makes a tote that stands up by itself, but it is hard to turn when sewing.  The quilt batting is a little too thin and limp.  Both work, but the high loft batting is my favorite.

Applique supplies: Iron on stabilizer (or solid color fabric), Heat n Bond (or similar), freezer paper, pencil, tape

The stabilizer or fabric serves two purposes.  It acts as a "slip" to keep the pattern from showing underneath and it makes your design stand up a little.  On the Wino. bag, I used white fabric and on the initial bag, I used the stabilizer.
Left: slouches (cotton quilt batting), Middle: very round and stiff (iron-on stabilizer), Right: High Loft Polyester Batting
Tools include a ruler or two (one needs to be at least 18"), rotary cutter and 18" cutting mat (or scissors if you are old school), and several pins.  You'll need some taylor's chalk/fabric marking pen and the appropriate feet for your sewing machine.  I use a blind hem foot, a 1/4" foot with guide, and a clear applique foot with mine, but depending on your skill and design, you can certainly use a regular presser foot.

Before sewing, wash, dry, and iron your fabric (or don't), but if you do, you will be able to wash and dry your tote without terrible shrinkage.

You first want to pick your colors.  I used two fat quarters and a scrap of material I already had.  The lining matches the inside of the handle and the outside of the handle matches the bottom of the tote, however, I encourage creativity (Please send pictures!).

CUT IT OUT... no really, cut it out (I know, corny, but just keeping things interesting)
ONE: Cut out two 8"x15" rectangles in coordinating colors for outside of tote (or just one 15"square if using single color on outside)

8"x15" each (will make a 15"x15" square)
TWO: Cut out one 15" square of batting

THREE: Cut out one 15" square for the liner

FOUR: Cut out two 3"x10" rectangles of coordinating colors for the handle

Handle Pieces Cut Out -- 3"x10"

MAKE THE HANDLE
ONE: Pin the right sides of the handle fabric together and sew on long edge.  Press open.

TWO: Fold the long edges in, measuring 1/2" from the seam, then fold in half along the seam and press, matching the edges up. Pin in place.

Each long edge is folded in 1/2" from the seam
THREE: Sew.  I use my blind hem foot to make a stitch on each side of the handle very close to the edge.  Then I use my 1/4" foot with guide to make two more stitches on each side.  This gives a total of 4 stitch lines.  You may use decorative stitches if you would like.

FOUR: Set your handle aside for later.

SEW THE OUTER LAYER  -  Use 1/4" seams, unless otherwise noted.

ONE: If using two colors, put right sides together and pin on long edge.  Sew together and press the seam to the darker side (so it is not as visible through the fabric).  You now have a 15" square for the outside of the tote. -- Skip this if you are using one color for the outside of the tote.
Press seam to darker side
The two 8"x15" squares become one 15"x15" square
TWO: If you are attaching an applique, iron it on now, before basting the batting because the iron will melt the batting.  Measurements and applique instructions are below.  Machine baste the batting to the outer layer using longest stitch setting on machine and no knots.  I am a lazy crafter... I don't want any extra work and I want to get my projects done quickly, so I actually baste it using a smidgen LESS than 1/4" seams so it is not visible later and I won't have to remove them :)
batting pinned to outer tote layer and ready to baste
baste a smidgen less than 1/4" seam
longest stitch length on my machine is 5.0
THREE:  Sew around the applique (you may skip this and add decoration such as buttons or flowers later).  Your applique should go through the outer layer and the batting.  If using other decorations, you can hand sew them/safety pin it through all the layers of the complete bag. Applique instructions are below.
FOUR: Fold the right sides together, pin and stitch along the bottom and long side.

SEW THE LINING
ONE: Fold right sides together and pin.  Mark a 5" gap on the long side in order to leave it open to turn it.
TWO: Sew along bottom and long edge (don't forget the gap!)

MAKE THE BOTTOM FLAT  -- These steps are for both the liner and the outer layer of the tote.
The lining and the outer tote layer should still be inside out (right sides together/wrong sides out).  Follow these steps on both of them.  Ironing both the liner and the outer layer before starting this step will assist in finding the middle on the side without the seam.  You may also fold it and add a pin to the middle (especially on the batting side so you don't melt the batting).

ONE: Open up the layer you are working on and fold the bottom corners to form a triangle -- matching up bottom and side seams on one corner and matching seam to pressed fold/marking pin on other corner.

TWO: Measure 3 1/2" across the corner -- 1 3/4" is your halfway point to line up the seam.  One side of the corner will be a the "0" point on the ruler and the other side will be at the 3 1/2" point while the 1 3/4" mark will be on the sewn seam.  Using chalk or a fabric pen, draw a line using the ruler as a guide.
Yes, my ruler is off!! Do as I say, not as I do! :)
Do the same for the outer layer (my ruler is just moved in this pic... lol)

THREE: Sew across the marked line.
Sew across all marks
Both will end up looking like this
FOUR: Trim all corners to 1/4" seam
Trim to 1/4" seam

FIVE: Turn outer layer only right side out.  Use your finger to press into the corners to turn all the way (you may use a chopstick or pencil, but don't push too hard as it will deform your pretty corner).

ATTACH HANDLE
ONE: Using a pin/fabric pen/chalk, find and mark the middle of the straps ends by folding in half

TWO: On the outer layer of the tote, use the seam as the center for one strap and then find the opposite side and mark.  Make sure handles are perpendicular to raw edge (if not, you will have a crooked handle)
THREE:  Line up your center marks on the tote and the handles and pin well.  The right sides (outer sides) should be next to each other.  This will bunch up the side of the tote a little, but that is okay.
FOUR: Sew the handles on the exterior of the bag.

ATTACH THE LINING  -- you're getting there, just a few more steps
ONE: (Although it is not absolutely necessary, I pin the handle down a little on each side so it says out of the way, but your chances of getting stuck increase... I know this)

Put the outer layer (right side out) into the inner layer (right side in).  Line up the seams
TWO: Pin all the way around, lining up the raw edges.  Make sure the strap edges are even too and are tucked in out of the way between the outer and inner layers.

THREE:  Sew around the top edge making sure to go through all layers.  I probably use just a smidgen over 1/4" seams here to make sure I got it all. (I never claimed to be a good seamstress)

TURN IT
REMOVE the pins in the handle if you pinned a few extra (if not, you will find it... trust me).  Pull the right side of the bag through the opening in the liner.  OH MY GOSH isn't it looking cute!!

STITCH UP THE HOLE
I told you I was lazy... You can hand stitch this, but I use my blind hem foot and blind hem stitch the hole in the liner closed.  You may also use a tiny over the edge stitch.  If anyone is nosy enough to look, then let them look...
FINISH IT UP
Lightly press your tote and stitch around the top.  I use my 1/4" presser foot with guide to go around the edge.  Sometimes, I put two stitches by adding a regular stitch with my blind hem foot.  You may also use a decorative stitch.  Get crafty with it!
Add any decorations that you want to pin on or hand-sew on.

Send me a pic and let me know what you did!
I now grant you bragging rights!!


APPLIQUE DIRECTIONS  - if desired (these instructions are for steps two and three in the Sew the Outer Layer section)

ONE: Decide what you want... that's the hard part.  I have put initials as well as words on the totes.  You may want to applique flower stems and then sew on flowers.  The list is endless!

TWO:  I usually cut out the freezer paper in the approximate size I desire (lazy).  I then use the computer to find and size the image I want to applique.  Of course, you can draw your own images.
THREE: Sizing pictures - pressing control while using the scroll wheel on your mouse will increase/decrease size of browser)
Word Processing Program for Letters (words and initials) -- use the font size and zoom feature
FOUR: Tape the cut out freezer paper to your computer screen and draw off your design with a pencil on the matte side.


FIVE: Attach iron on stabilizer or fabric (with heat bond) to wrong side of fabric, then attach Heat N Bond on to the back of the stabilizer (or fabric), leave protective layer in place
Stabilizer attached to fabric my initials will be made from

SIX: Place freezer paper on top of the fabric's right side and iron to bond (protect your iron and ironing board with newspaper)

SEVEN: Cut out through all layers

EIGHT: Remove protective backing from Heat n Bond

NINE: Iron design onto bag (before attaching batting).  See MEASUREMENTS below.  Then attach batting.

TEN: Zigzag stitch around design, going through batting too.  For directions on how to applique, see Mug Rugs: A Picture Tutorial.  Just keep in mind, on my design here, the D is sewn last.  Always sew the top layer last.

MEASUREMENTS -- My seam is on the LEFT side of my bag.  The center of the completed bag front is 4" from the left raw edge.  I measure this and mark it with a vertical line.  I placed my initials 3" down from the raw edge of the top and centered them with the mark I made.

On the WINO. bag, I placed the letters 4 1/2" from the raw edge of the bottom and 2" from the raw edge of the top.  Centered each letter with a vertical line that I made 4" from the left raw edge.

Thank you for reading my tutorial.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  I welcome your feedback, links to your blogs, and pictures of your finished projects and ideas!!  Feel free to share, but please link back to my blog (that way my hard work, as well as the original designer's is recognized).

If you are interested in a PDF pattern, please let me know.