Month: December 2015

Bucket List/ New Year’s Resolutions! My To-do List For 2016 and Beyond

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With 2015 drawing to a close and 2016 fast upon us, I thought I would review my wish list of things to do in the future.  I know it may seem like I have completed lots of things on my bucket but, I still have lots of wishes left.  I think life’s to-do lists should be bigger than just the mundane of doing laundry and chores, it should encompass things that scare or inspire me.  So this list will never end, which is awesome, because then I always have the challenge of doing something new.

  1. Walk on the Great Wall of China.image
  2. Improve my French.
  3. Swim the Great Barrier Reef.????????????????????????????????????
  4. Write another book, a murder mystery this time.
  5. Go on an African Safari.  image
  6. Pet a lion.
  7. Learn Cantonese and Mandarin.
  8. Become a better sewer and tailor.
  9. Learn to play the guitar and piano better.
  10. Go to the Brandenburg gate.image
  11. Walk the moors in Scotland.image
  12. Go on an Italian food course in Tuscany and learn how to make traditional dishes.                image
  13. Write a cookbook of my family’s favourite recipes.
  14. Hold and love my grandchild(ren).
  15. See the lights flashing on the Eifel tower again in person.image
  16. Drink a leche con leche in Italy in a small cafe while I shamelessly people watch.
  17. Go on an archeological dig.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  18. Help with a genocide or natural disaster in a forensic autopsy technician capacity.
  19. Get my masters in forensics.
  20. Get a restricted and unrestricted gun license.image
  21. Sky dive.
  22. Learn to scuba dive.          image
  23. Make a Youtube channel.
  24. Snorkel in Hawaii.
  25. Live off grid in a farm-house that I helped build, with my own self sufficient garden with chickens and goats.
  26. Own a horse.
  27. Make a Zombie movie.  My daughter Madeline and I wrote a script on a long car ride.
  28. Downsize all my clutter.
  29. Go to St. Petersburg and see the palace.image
  30. Go on another World War I Commonwealth war graves tour and visit more battle sites and war grave sites.
  31. Visit the beaches of Normandy.image
  32. Go on another wine tour.
  33. Ride in a hot air balloon.image
  34. Visit again all the places where I have lived as a reminder of where I came from and how far I have come.
  35. See my children continue to grow and fulfill their bucket lists.
  36. Grow happily older with my husband.image
  37. Appreciate and not take for granted all the great things in my life.
  38. Read “The Hundred Books to Read Before You Die”.
  39. Learn sign language.
  40. Climb the pyramids at Machu Pichu.image
  41. Get another tattoo.          image
  42. Continue to thrift shop, collect vintage and refashion finds to wear them.
  43. Make more doll houses.
  44. Start knitting again.  And knit socks and mittens for myself.
  45. Take a wood-turning class.  And make a wooden bowl.image
  46. Take up cross-country skiing again.
  47. Do the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen….correctly.
  48. Keep up with my journaling.
  49. Write a book of our family stories to be passed down after I am gone.
  50. Leave  behind a legacy that is positive and meaningful.

I continually add to this list, but this is just a start.  Hope this bucket list inspires you.  Cheers, Michele

Sewing Dresses Without A Paper Pattern!

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These two dresses were sewn and designed without a paper pattern. I was on a mad sewing binge of pre-Jamaica wardrobe prepping one day and forgot to take photos as I went along, sorry about that.  This first dress is a maxi that is redesigned from Pinterest tutorials to work better for me.

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A useful tutorial for this style of dress can be found on www.mimistyle.com or www.bambinogoodies.co.uk or www.elleapparelblog.com.  There are many very simple tutorials on lots of different blogs and websites, but these are just a few I looked at before tackling this project.

I bought the fabric for $3 a metre and I got 3 metres of the bolt end.  It is made from two long strips which are 1/4 the width of my widest part (my hips).  I folded the strips over, figured out how long I wanted the neck line to sit and then sewed it up front and back along the middle seams, leaving a slit in the bottom hem of the back to allow ease for walking.  Then I left enough room on the side for arm holes and stitched up to that point on the sides.  Then I finished the neck line, sleeves and hem.

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Here is the finished dress. I found the arms a bit too long, so I created pleats to take up the excess fabric.

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Here is the detail of the shoulder pleats.  I then added elastic around the waist to draw it in and create a waist line.  I think this dress turned out very well, I still need to tweet the pattern as it turned out a bit big and baggy.

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This second dress is just made from laying a T-shirt down on some fabric which was folded over in half lengthwise and then half again lengthwise.  I traced out the arm hole and neck line and then made the dress as long as I wanted.  I made one side V-neck and the other side scoop neck.  I can wear it either way and still have it look nice.  I haven’t decided if I am putting elastic in or not or just cinch it in with a belt.  I also got the fabric from a bolt end for $4 a metre and I got 3 metres as well.  I still have enough left over for a top or skirt.

I think they both turned out well, they were very expensive and even though I didn’t thrift the fabric, I got it for an amazing price.  What do you think?  Cheers, Michele

30% Thrift Haul Strikes Again!!!

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I still continue to have good luck with my 30% off thrift hauls.  The coupon punch cards keep getting filled and as quickly I use them.  All of these items were purchased at Value Village and the prices listed are before the discount.

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Grey and White Old Navy Sweater $7.99

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Purple Argyle Tommy Hilfiger Sweater $8.99

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Printed Purple gauzy dress no maker’s tag $5.99

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Orange, Purple and Green printed dress $9.99

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Blue, White and Black colour blocked dress, Jones New York $10.99

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Vintage Yellow and White striped dress, $6.99

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Reversible Black and Green top $3.99

Some of these dresses will be refashioned, taken in or altered in some way. What do you think of my finds?  Cheers, Michele

Bathing Suit Refashions!

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Here are two Tankini style bathing suit tops that I thrifted that were just awkward fits.  I have a long torso so this style of top never fits me right, it rides up or sits awkwardly.  I got them each for $2.99 at Value Village.

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So I cut off the bottom part just under the bust.

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I stitched the remaining fabric down in a wide zigzag stitch to the bust bands on both.  Here is a close-up of one of the tops with its stitching.

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Here are the final results.

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 I think they turned out quite well and will have a new life with me snorkeling and lying on the beach hopefully soon in somewhere warm and sunny.  Cheers, Michele

Ten Thrifty Tips for Refashioning!

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As the new year is soon upon us, and I am continuing to keep to my promise to thrift as much of my clothing as possible and refashion where required I thought I would include some thrifty refashioning tips.

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  1. Have a good basic sewing machine.  You don’t necessarily need a serger or a fancy machine to do refashioning.  Just a machine that does straight stitch and zigzag.  A buttonhole option is nice if you need it, but I never have.  I avoid doing button holes when ever possible, they are my nemesis right along with zippers.imageimage
  2. Keep a selection of many colours of thread.  You can even buy thread at thrift stores.  Having an assortment of bobbins filled with the threads already to go is hugely helpful for lightening fast refashions.image
  3. Keep a selection of a variety of gauges of sewing machine needles for lighter and more delicate fabrics as well as tougher ones like denim and leather.                                                              image
  4. Have an assortment of widths and weights of elastic as many refashions I have done has involved either replacing old tired elastics or putting elastic in to gather the waist a bit.image
  5. Keep your off cuts from refashions.  I have used pieces from one refashion to add strips at the shoulders of a dress to lengthen the bodice or widen the arm holes in slightly too small pieces.  Also I have added a strip of fabric inserted into a skirt to lengthen it, added pockets when none were there originally.  A stash of scrap fabric is an invaluable resource.                                        image
  6. Buy clothing pieces for the fabric not just the cut of the piece.  Shirts, skirts and dresses can be taken apart and the fabric used for other purposes.  I have a stash of thrifted clothes for just this purpose.
  7. Organize your fabric scrap stash and untouched clothing stash into separate piles where you can easily see and access it so when the mood hits to refashion, you will be ready to go. I have a dresser in my sewing room and a drawer is designated for each.                                             image
  8. Save all the buttons and even the strips off of shirts that have the button holes from your refashioning projects.  I have used these button hole strips on refashions before to great success.image
  9. Do not fear your refashion stash.  Some refashioners fear that pile, bin or drawer full of thrifted items which are in a holding pattern until inspiration strikes or time becomes available.  Think of this stash as more of a treasure trove of rediscoverable items you have forgotten you thrifted.
  10. Have fun with it.  The things you are starting with are thrifted; and if you were lucky; weren’t too expensive.  So if the refashion goes wrong for you, all is not lost.  Sometimes you can rework it to make it work, or you can donate it back.  If it is an expensive item, or rare or vintage and you are afraid your skills aren’t up to the task, find a great seamstress who can tackle your idea of how it should be for you.  Just be open to the idea that things may not go as planned, accept it, and then be totally stoked when they do turn out.  Cheers, Michele

Coconut Macaroon Cookies!! Gilded With Chocolate!!

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These are a cookie that I have always liked, but rarely made until reintroduced to them by my daughter Katie’s boyfriend Chris.  He loves coconut and will often make these cookies for me.  So to use up those egg whites from the Jam thumb cookies, here goes.

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Coconut Macaroons Dipped in Chocolate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Dry ingredients:

5 cups or one 14 ounce package of sweetened shredded coconut

2/3 cup of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup gluten-free flour mix (or regular flour)

Wet ingredients:

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate (dark chocolate is the best)

Mix dry ingredients well.  Add egg whites and vanilla.  Mix until well incorporated.  Spoon tablespoon size balls onto cookie sheets and leave 1 inch between balls.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  Melt chocolate and dip bottoms of cookies into chocolate.  Put cookies in fridge for half an hour to allow chocolate to set.  Store in air tight container.  Enjoy these chewy scrumptious cookies.  Cheers, Michele

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies!!

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Shortbread cookies are an old Christmas standby.  These are gluten-free for those of us who are wheat sensitive.  They are so simple with only 4 ingredients.  They melt in your mouth, leaving just the deliciousness behind like a sweet memory.

Gluten-Free Shortbread

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Dry Ingredients: (Sift very well in separate bowl)

1 cup rice flour

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 cup room temperature butter

Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth dough forms.  Put dough in fridge to firm up for 1 hour.  Once chilled, take out and make 1 inch balls.  Place balls on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart.  Use a fork dipped in powdered sugar to flatten balls.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are slightly browned.  Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.  Enjoy.  Cheers, Michele