Totes Galore

2014 MissMary Tote9A friend asked me to make a special tote.  I had her pick out the fabric and then asked her to look at all the shoppers and totes I’ve made over the years to see what style she would prefer. We played with the fabric and then came up with the style that seemed appropriate for the young lady.  My friend also picked out the stabilizer and batting.

Fabric for shoppers can be beautiful and expensive.  Some run around $11.00/yard and depending on what I make, could be 3 yards of material before we do t2014 MissMary Tote10he labor.  It is what it is.

If you want a sturdy shopper, Hobby Lobby(HB) carries heavy duty twill in solid colors only.  HB carries a beautiful cream color twill that I like to use often.  It goes well with most colors.

The fabric dictated the design.   I made much deeper pockets all around the bag.  I used a little gray material I had to contrast the inside of the shopper pockets so they’d stand out a little.  Look!  The tote stands up by itself.  That’s due to the batting and the weight of the fabric.

I2014 MissMary Tote3‘ve changed up how I make the straps when I’m not sewing them along the front pocket.  It’s a lot easier and they’re much sturdier.2014 MissMary Tote4

For some reason this bag called out for closures.  I haven’t made them in awhile so I always have to go back and find a pattern piece then determine the best way to add them.  The questions I ask are, should I sew it into the seam or onto the fabric?  How will that affect the top-stitching detail when I’m finished? I chose stitching it into the seam which made it much easier to top-stitch at the end.

2014 MissMary Tote 1

I toyed with not adding an inside pocket due to the four pockets on the outside already.  But, pockets are always welcome.

I have to find a better way to sew the plastic bottom in.  The fabric, batting and stabilizers make it very difficult to sew.  In fact I’ve broken a few needles trying to do so. 2014 MissMary Tote7

My daughter suggested large buttons an added detail.  Chrissy always sees details that I sometimes do not.  So, I headed to Joanne’s to find buttons to complement the chevron straps.  Well, there are SO MANY different colors of peach/apricot/ you-name-it that I couldn’t find one that would work well.  Sad face.  2014 MissMary Tote8

In the end it turned out cute.  I think this style would make a nice tote for moms with new babies.  They’re always hauling stuff.

With the cooler weather coming I’m back in the sewing room.  I have to finish out Monique Dillard’s  Block of the Month for the Algonquin Quilters Guild, I have my baby  blanket challenge to finish for Advocate Sherman Hospitals Nicu unit, AND a few baby things for newborns.

It’s fall Y’all.


What Inspiration do you need?

I like to be inspired physically, mentally and spiritually.  Inspiration should be a classification of narcotics but only with great side effects.

Mental inspiration. It’s a challenge.  I’m more of a visual learner and a slow reader.  I like things to make sense.  Game of Thrones was not making sense.  You know that feeling where you can’t connect the dots – makes you a little wicked sometimes.  Finally, I decided to pick up the books to read through them.  Everything makes sense now and all is calm.  Mental inspiration is also taking on a task and completing it.  I’m a retentive soul and until something is complete it nags at my being.  And then I need another project.  Doesn’t that sound perverse?  A constant state of projects.

Spiritual Inspirations, they’re meant to give us peace.  We have so little of it today.  The loss of peace leaves us lonely, sad, and aching for restfulness.

Today’s writers reach out to their readers to bring things into today’s perception.  Back 50 years ago the Sisters of Mercy said only prayer brought you peace – they really didn’t go much further with that explanation to all of us that attended St. Columbus Elementary.

There are several writers and sites that I visit or get poked with each day.  One of them is from Emily Miller whom I’ve known for many years.  I had no idea that she wanted to step into this realm of inspiration.  I love the series name that she’s given to her recent endeavor, 31 Days of Gentleness for the Rest of Us.   The other writer looks a lot like my surgeon, Dr. James Bresch, and he is very popular speaker and author – Joel Osteen Ministries.  I really enjoy his positiveness as it relates to all the negativeness in our lives.

And then from my very Catholic days I’ve always been drawn to Saint Faustina, known for her inspiration to others to be joyful in God’s Mercy, and the one who introduced the Divine Mercy to the world.   If you read Sr. Faustina’s writings they will speak to you personally, the way it should be.  I get a little miffed at those that want to shred it down to their version when the original works far better than an interpretation.

Physical Inspiration.  It’s all about how to work efficiently helping to produce proven results, aggression releases – I have a lot of those lately, and the music that keeps you in the game.  When I’m finished with a workout the endorphins and your muscles are all a buzz.  It’s what brings you back.

Here’s a fantastic beginner weights workout that a friend posted on FB, thanks Kathy Starr, that will get you in the habit easily to regain the strength you’ve lost over the years.  Now mind you, should you do this, the next day and the day after that, you will feel the ache of muscles that have been used.  The muscles need the exercise in order to improve your regain of strength.  Within 21 days you’ll see a positive change as long as you do this at least 3 times a week.

I really encourage you to find your inspirations.


There’s this teenie house that I’ve been meaning to mention.

2014 Faerie houseFor at least ten years I’ve passed this magical little house in Holland, Michigan.  It’s haunting existence dares me to write about it but as a faerie story.  It fits the beguiling nature of the wee folk but yet I haven’t allowed my imagination to run wild to create a fascinating tale.

The small building seems to be half buried into the ground with a curved roof line that is longer on one side than the other.  It has a singular door under the short angled roof.  There’s one window opposite the door which is very squatty and long.  The house sits back about 80 yards from the road surrounded by a field of grass.  Pine trees provide a backdrop for the faerie bungalow.

I half expected to see a grass roof on this home lending more reality to faerie tale prop than not.  Perhaps it is a garden house meant for the care of the field.  I’ve often wanted to stop and inquire to the nature of the home.

The most enchanting time to see the house is when evening falls and the moon rises.  The beams illuminate the whole area making the possibility of wee folk follies seem real.  I’m hoping by just writing this small bit will help me get back to sleep and quit thinking about the possibilities.

Remembering a Song

It was during my college years that I picked up a music book of songs written by Bread.  “If” was my favorite to tinker around with on the Gilbert’s dorm piano.  I distinctly remember one of the music majors, working on his masters in music, asking if he could a have hand at playing it.  He was probably sad that I couldn’t get the song to flow.

It is a trans-formative moment when someone is able to expertly play the entire song on the piano without stopping.   I just fell in love with the song.2014 wedding dance

The song was written in 1971 and played for years on the radio.  The radio was my friend.  I didn’t have any loose change to purchase vinyl albums, especially in ’71.

Fast forward 13 years and it was wedding music that I was exploring.  That’s when cassettes and 8 tracks were popular.  I put it out there for the future Mr. Sal to see if he’d be up for the first dance song to be “If”.  Yep he was, and the rest is a 30 year history.

What have we done?

The other day I had a workman at the house.  We were chatting about the damages from the hail storm from Father’s day.  He told me his insurance company denied him and then canceled is policy.  It’s a well known company.  The houses around him were ruined but somehow his was not.  Hmmm, insurance companies.

I recommended that he call the better business bureau and call the Attorney Generals office.  He said he couldn’t do that because he was a Republican.


Oh my god!

After the shock of his statement, I shook it off and explained that government isn’t just for some people but for all citizens and that he should move forward in calling Lisa Madigan’s office as it is wrong what his insurance company did.

This indoctrination that government isn’t for us if it’s not of the same philosophical beliefs that we hold, is pure and utter nonsense.   The first question they ask you is not whether you’re red, blue or a person of the universe.  They CAN’T do that.  His words are still igniting my brain on fire.

How did we forget what we learned in civics class?  When did the constitution become someone else’s laws?  I’m just shaken to the core over this insanity.

Time for a new Playlist – 29 minutes perfect for cario

IPODWent trolling the internet to find a playlist that would motivate a new cardio routine.  I cherry picked those that would motivate me and I’m still seat dancing to it.  I’m loving the first one a LOT!

We have a rowing machine at the gym.  I’m going to see if this will keep me motivated to go 29 minutes.  HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA  we’ll see.

Here we go.

Move – Little Mix

Timber – Pitbull ( one of my boyfriends)

Can’t Hold Us - Macklemore

Love Me Again – John Newman

Boneless – Steve Aoki

Smooth Criminal - King of Pop MJ

Last Chance – Kaskade & Project 46 (left this one for the end to slow down :) )

Summer Gazpacho and only 105 calories!!!!!


This past weekend I had lunch at Benedict’s in Crystal Lake.  They had one of my VERY favorite soups, Gazpacho.  I’ve made it before but didn’t have all the ingredients in the fridge. Gazpacho is light, delicious and filling.

After my workout today I just had to make it.  I headed over to Aldi because they carry SimplyNature products hoping I could find a low sodium tomato juice.  Didn’t but they had all the veggies!  It cost me $8.40 which is $1.05 per serving – just incase you’re watching your pennies.

You can see it makes two large containers.  It’s made in your blender or food processor.  I based it off of Ina Garten’s recipe after a google search for a lighter faire but I changed it because of what I had in my cupboard and I didn’t use as much salt.  She makes me a wee bit anxious over her salt usage.

You’ll need:

  • Food processor or blender
  • Extra large glass bowl to mix it all in
  • Large ladle
  • 2 qt containers to store it in.


  • 4 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, or 3 small ones, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 2 red sweet peppers, I used a red and a yellow.  You could use green.  Cut up in 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 of a red onion, sliced.
  • 48 ounce can of tomato juice, you’ll only use half of it or a little more
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra light olive oil, Bertolli
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Using your blender/processor, add your cucumbers, peppers, onion, and garlic and 1/4 of the tomato juice and blend it all.  You should have maybe half of the blender full.  Add all the tomatoes and blend again.  When finished pour the mixture into your extra large glass bowl.

Add the red wine vinegar, extra light olive oil, another 1/4 of the tomato juice, pepper, and salt.  Using a whisk, whisk all the ingredients together to mix the oil and vinegar into the mixture.   If you think you need a little more tomato juice just add it.  You should have about 2 cups remaining of the tomato juice.

Ladle it into your containers (from Cassandra’s Kitchen) and refrigerate the gazpacho to the meld the flavors.  IT’S AMAZING!!!!!!  And perfect for a summer day after your workout.

Now, you can add any veggie you’d like, maybe zucchini or black olives.  Also, if you have some elderly tomatoes in your keeper, use them.  Some folks like jalapenos, not me.  No heat for me.

The Nutrition Facts came from for 1 cup.  One of the reasons I LOVE MyFitnessPal.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 105

Total Fat 7 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 536 mg
Potassium 348 mg 1
Total Carbohydrate 9 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Sugars 6 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 65 %
Calcium 3 %
Iron 3 %







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