Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweetening The Pot

Okay Friends I am willing to make a deal for those of y'all who have waited this long to get Christmas presents ( and believe me I am by no means finished with my Christmas shopping either). If you buy something from Sew Sew Lovely before December 17th and use the coupon code FREESHIPPING, you will get exactly that- free shipping! (And you will receive your item before Christmas)

So why not wrap up one of these beauties for someone you love? You can check them out here.

If bags aren't what you are looking for I have other options for you.  My sister also has an etsy shop and is running a procrastinators sale. Enter the coupon code SantaBaby and receive 25% off of anything in the store. Here is a peak at some of the items she has right now.

You can visit her shop by clicking here.
Just looking out for you this Christmas friends. Just looking out for you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Vicious Library Cycle

The Library and I are stuck in a problematic cycle of sorts.

I LOVE going to the library. I fill my arms with tons and tons of books and I am always in awe that I just get to take them home with me. They don't need money in exchange for those literary gems, they don't need blood, or any other sort of collateral I could think of. All they have to do is swipe my card and I get to walk through those doors with all the books I can carry.

SO what is the problem? Oh I will tell you my friend!  Every few weeks I go to the library, check out way more books than I can read during the two or three weeks I am allowed to have them and I spend those weeks immersed in literary bliss. Eventually the inevitable happens. I misplace something I have checked out from the library. It doesn't make sense that this would happen, I live in a two bedroom apartment, but it does. Now the library seems docile and giving when you are checking out books but Oh how it rears its ugly head when you fail to return something!

On more than one occasion the library has threatened to refer me to a collections agency if I did not return or pay for a book or other material I had taken out. The thing about it is that while a book may cost $25 in the real world, in library land they can somehow stretch it to make it cost $50. And HEAVEN FORBID you lose a CD or DVD.  Once I lost one CD of an audio book. I took in the other 8 CDs I still had though and thankfully they only charged me for the one I lost. Otherwise I would have owed that seemingly sweet librarian behind the counter $90!!! (I am not in anyway criticizing the library system. I understand that you are borrowing the books and should be held responsible. I understand there are other costs they have to account for.).

After I finally find the lost book, or succumb to the fines or replacement costs, I become a little weary of the library. I mean if I go back will it be the same? I see the scenario in my head. I get up to the counter cheerful, with my arms filled with books. The sweet lady behind the counter smiles at me as she takes my card.  As she scans my card her expression  changes.  My account has been flagged, I am a book-loser! I cannot be trusted! Her upper lip curls back and I see a pair of buffy-the vampire-slayerish fangs shimmering at me as I back away, dropping my books and run for the door.

Obviously this never happens. At the library all sins are forgiven after you pay the fines or return the book. It astounds me every time and I fall even more into a book-induced stupor.  And yes I am trying desperately to not lose books. Hopefully, this month I will break the cycle and the library and I can once and for all end this love/hate relationship . I think we could have a great future in front of us, filled with suspenseful chapters, riveting story lines, and happy endings.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saying Goodbye to an old Friend

Today my family has experienced the loss of our little dog Dezdamona ( affectionately know as Dez or Dezzie). Dez had lived a long life and I want to tell you a little about it. Maybe because I think it she was a special dog, and maybe because I have some great stories about her but mostly because I hope it  will help my heart heal a little.

My sister Anna found Dez at an animal shelter almost thirteen years ago. I remember her driving up in the drive way and honking her horn numerous times. My sister Emily and I ran out to see what all the commotion was about. When we opened Anna's car door we found a scared, skinny little brown dog huddled in the front floorboard. My mom liked to say that Dez was a beagle who ran in to a dachshund somewhere along the line. All I know is for me and Dez it was love at first sight, from that day on we were best friends. I taught her to crawl up in our laps if we were sitting in the floor,a trick she loved to try when you were opening presents, hold/playing with babies or even just tying your shoes. My Dezzie was the sweetest dog. She never bit or snapped at anyone and Oh what a personality she had! I could tell you stories and stories about the times she made us laugh or the funny things she did but I know that some of those memories are just for me, for me to cherish in my heart. The few I will share I think show what a loyal dog she was. I think that's the best thing about dogs, they love you fiercely and for all of their days.

Dez was not always an adventurous dog. She was very skittish when we first got her and seemed to be scared of everything. After a while she to grew out of most of those fears, some of which included the garage door and men wearing hats. But others she always seemed pretty skeptical about, like the stairs. Dez really stayed away from the stairs unless she desperately needed something (to go outside or to eat) or she was so angry and needed to somehow express this emotion. That last statement may not make any sense to you so let me explain. When I first left for college Dez was a very sad and upset little dog. She looked for me everywhere but to no avail. Overcome with anger Dez heaved her then slightly chubby little frame up the steps and walked into my room where she then proceeded to pee in the middle of my carpet. (Just so you know this is not a dog who frequently went to the bathroom in the house, this was an no accident). It was as if she was saying "HA! I'll show her! How could she leave me?!?" Every time I would come home for a visit my mom would have to close my bedroom door after I left or this ritual would be repeated without fail.

Then I got sick and had to have brain surgery (It will be 8 years since my surgery on October 23rd!). After I got to come home from the hospital Dez knew I was in the house but she couldn't seem to find me. My sisters taught her how to put her paws up on the side of my bed and I would reach over and pet her head. After she figured out where I was she came to see me at least once a day. Sometimes I would find her sleeping on the floor beside my bed. The funny thing about this was that Dez never slept anywhere but on her own cushion or in her dog crate. When I was strong enough to walk to our family room and lay down on the couch Dez would sleep next to me all day, very unusual behavior for this little dog. It was if she knew I needed comfort and a friend. It was if she knew I needed her.

But years and years have passed. Dez would have been fifteen years old in December which is 105 in dog years. And all of a sudden things just seemed to be a little too much for our little friend. And today she left this world for another. Oh how I miss her! It feels like a member of my family is missing. I know now what it must have felt like when she searched that big house of ours looking for me when I went to college.

People can argue and say that dogs don't have souls and thus cannot go to heaven. These people have never loved a dog like I have. They can't or else they wouldn't believe that there are no dogs in heaven. My puppy was a friend, a comfort, and someone who loved me even at my worst, my ugliest, my lowest. I think this is a reflection of God and how we should strive to love others. And why would God not want all that exuberance, goodness and love in heaven. I know heaven is a better place today because it has one new member : a little brown baby puppy named Dez.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


 Hey did you know September is over? I really don't know where that month got to but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Since I last posted I have been sewing my fingers off trying to get ready for this and this. And somewhere in there I fit in time to have a birthday. And I really feel like I woke up and all of sudden it was October.....and sort of cold....

In other news, my sister and I have been eating a lot of "stuffed things" for dinner recently, with a lot of success so it is about time to share a few of our experiences. First : Goat cheese stuffed baked apples= Amazing. We have actually made these a few times recently. We don't like to have things on the menu two consecutive weeks but as long a there is a week in between its a go (if our Mom is coming to visit, the need to impress her with our really good recipes trumps the nonconsecutive week rule).

We have perfected this recipe since I took the pictures but you get the idea. Basically we stuffed apples with goat cheese and honey and baked them until they were vesicles of perfection ( about 30 minutes at
425 degrees).

Next we tried stuffed bell peppers which was another successful endeavor. I just feel healthy eating an entire pepper (even if it is stuffed with meat and cheese).

Our latest stuffed dinner came after an uncharacteristically helpful moment from my sister Emily. Emily is the greatest but one thing she is not great at is coming up with ideas for dinner. Emily loves food and recently is up for trying new things but ask her to come up with what she wants to have and you will more than likely get a blank stare. Sometimes she will look at you, refer to herself in 1st person and say "Emily is not helpful." and walk away. So a few weeks ago when she suggested we have "sweet potatoes stuffed with stuff", I did all I could to make that happen. And so we had "Dairy Free Twice Baked Sweet potatoes" (we try to stay away from dairy but this recipe could be easily made with dairy products). You can find this recipe here. The only thing we did different is we used dairy free cream cheese instead of soy yogurt.  And these sweet potatoes will probably be making an experience at all the Clarke get-togethers from now on.

So even though September managed to slip by me and I feel like I have stumbled into October  slightly shocked and somehow a year older, I did emerge with something valuable- 3 news ways to stuff foods into other foods and have it turn out amazing!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Isn't She Lovely?

Okay so for a few months now I have been making clutch purses (I call them "Fancy Flounces" after my bigger Flouncy Bag). Some of you may have seen them as one of my friends, Melissa, gave one away on her blog last month and I had a few at my grand opening. I still only have a few because, while I have made a bunch in the month of July, I sold them all to Lilly at Petal Boutique. This is a great new Boutique in Greenville that you really need to check out.

SO I just finished this Fancy Flounce and I LOVE IT! It is a little bit autumn meets "A Midsummer Night's Dream".  It (and hopefully a few others, if I can get them sewn) will be at my studio this Friday August 5th from 6-9. If you live out of town and are interested in one of my clutch purses just send me a message or comment on this post. I think they would make great bridesmaid's gifts or would be a one of a kind accessory to add to any outfit!

And remember,  my studio which is off of Pendleton street right under the Pendleton Art District Sign will be open this Friday from 6-9pm. The address is 1279 Pendleton Street. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Project Pajamas

The most recent episode of Project Runway has reignited some "Is it a good idea to be wearing this to bed?" anxieties within me. This may sound weird but let me explain. I learned the hard way that wearing whatever you want to bed can have consequences while I was working at summer camp. The reason why I was woken up in the middle of the night is a secret camp tradition that I am not at liberty to write about BUT I can tell you that around 10 pm putting on a matching pajama shirt and shorts with purple stars on them (that my great aunt gave me because she never really had a firm grasp on my age) seemed harmless. I don't remember how those pajamas got put into my camp trunk or why I needed to wear them (I definitely had other pajamas) but I do remember the embarrassment I felt when every other counselor I saw at that late hour asked me "What are you wearing Julia?!?"

 Consequently, for several years after that (at camp or at home) I was very conscious of what I slept in. Who knows who would be waking you up in the middle of the night. This continued to be a concern when I worked at the residential treatment for troubled teens. On average, I got woken up after I had gone to be about once a month and the teenagers I lived with were not always known for their kind words as it was so I really didn't want to be caught dead in anything humorous.

It had been over a year since I have been in any sort of situation where there has been a possibility of me being woken up in the middle of the night and this I have become less diligent about making sure I don't look ridiculous. Now don't get me wrong I have not brought back the purple star pajamas but I have  sometimes chosen comfort over cuteness.

Then I saw the first episode of this season's Project Runway. If you have never seen an episode of Project Runway, (You need to) I will explain it to you. Project Runway brings together a group of colorful clothing designers and gives them challenges. At the end of each challenge there is a runway show and someone is eliminated. It is hands down one of my favorite shows. This past weeks episode involved the designers being woken up at 5 am being told (by Tim Gunn- The shows lovable mentor) to bring with them one sheet off their bed and the clothes off their back. Once they arrived at the workroom they were told that they were to make an outfit using their pajamas and the sheet as materials. And so as I got ready for bed the other night and pulled on some brightly colored, heart printed shorts I honestly thought to myself "What if Tim Gunn wakes you up in the middle of the night Julia? Do you really want to have to make an outfit out of this?"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finishing Touches

I am finishing up some projects for the new studio today (and tomorrow and probably Friday!) I can't wait to show all of y'all what Elizabeth and I have been working so hard on the last few weeks.  Until then, I fell in love with this song a few days ago so this is what I am humming as I sew today!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Have you Heard?!?

Yes the rumors are true!! I have recently joined forces with my friend Elizabeth, from Yellow Elm, and we are opening a studio together! Sew Sew Lovely will very soon have a location! We are planning a grand opening in a few weeks and you are invited! Why not stop by and see our new space before you head out of town for the fourth of July?

Hopefully over the next few weeks I will have a few sneak peak pictures to show you! Stay Tuned!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Things that make me happy.

It has been sort of a dreary day today so I thought I would blog about somethings that make me happy.

I love blue Mason jars. I have been collecting them for years so I have them all over the house. Some of them have lace or buttons in them, some have money I am saving and some have loose beads. This one however, had beautiful yellow roses in it. Are these colors just delicious?

My all-most two-year-old nephew, Mateo, loves to be outside with his daddy and big brother. My brother-in-law has found that it is a lot harder to work on the family's cars and do other yard work with Mateo in tow. Usually, Mateo is allowed to come outside anyway, except when my brother-in-law is mowing the lawn. So to avoid whining, my sister has set him up chairs (one at the front of the house, and one at the back of the house), and provided him with a snack and a sippy cup. As my brother in law rides the mower around the house, Mateo moves from chair to chair with his snack. No way he is missing the action!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Local Art Gathering

 I am SO excited to be a part of this Local Art Gathering on Saturday, April 9th from 11 am to 3 pm. It is at the Art Gallery at Palmetto Home and Garden on Laurens road. If you are from the Greenville area you should definitely come check it out! There are going to be some great vendors there and this would be a perfect event to pick up some unique items for Mother's day, Easter, or any Summer Weddings you have coming up!

If you are in Greenville you really don't want to miss out on having all these amazing artists in one place! Need more convincing? One of the amazing organizers of the event Kelley Smith has done blog posts about each of the artists featured at the event. Read what she has to say here.

So I am counting on you Greenville come out and support your local artists and all things handmade!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 ways I have been Blessed in February

I have to be honest, I don't like February. And no it is not because of any pink-tinged holiday. Crazy and sometimes tragic or really difficult things seem to happen to me in February. This year was really no exception but last night a couple of my friends sent an update email titled "10 ways we were blessed in February" and I felt convicted. Maybe I should focus on the things that went right in February and not the things that went wrong. So here goes:

1. The weather. I know this seems like a lame way to start. You are probably thinking that if my first good thing about February is the weather then the other nine are going to be like watching those awkward and excruciating auditions on American Idol. But seriously doesn't good weather just put you in a good mood? The weather we are having recently has been making me feel like the winter is over and spring is on its way, metaphorically as well as physically.

2. My sweet friend Catherine, who doesn't live in Greenville, got one of her friends who lives here to WALK to my apartment complex and leave flowers on my doorstep on Valentines Day. I am very difficult to surprise but this one had me floored!

3.My aunt does not have rabies! Yes, I know how that statement sounds. My poor aunt got bitten by a stray cat and the doctors were worried the cat was rabid. You can't tell if an animal has rabies without killing it so the vet had to keep the cat and watch it for about 10 days to see if it showed signs (my aunt did not want to kill the cat!). If the cat was rabid my aunt was going to have to have a series of painful vaccines so my family is overjoyed that the cat and my aunt do not have rabies!

4. I got to sped a couple of days with my favorite twins! My good good friend Amantha  let me come stay at her house for a few days and help her take care of her twins, Micah and Yarah.  They just turned one on February 28th! I can't believe the world has had those sweet children for a whole year but I am so glad we have!

5. I found the coolest suitcases at an antique store (store is a strong word for this experience, it is more like a large pile of antiques inside a building) I got such a good deal on them I almost sprinted out of the place so the owner couldn't change his mind.  I have some plans to make crazy furniture out of these suitcases.

6. I have had a lot of new ideas and dreams for my business, Sew Sew Lovely. I am not quite ready to share those yet but exciting things are coming!

7. My dear dear friends Stephen and Christina are having a baby! I have known them since college and while they have been married for 6 years it was just such a surprise. They are going to be such AMAZING parents and I can't wait to meet their new addition.

8. I have had some really sweet times with friends this month. I have had great lunch dates, talks over coffee, phone calls and visits at my kitchen table. I have really felt loved by my friends old or new, here and far away.

9.  My friends Katrina and Kyle went to Africa this month. They will be there until August doing great work and having crazy adventures. Every time I think about what they are doing I am motivated to do big things and live the life I have imagined.

10. I have done a lot of things this month that I was scared to do or never would have done in the past. One example is that I have been dancing a lot more lately and I am loving it!  I have really been trying serve the world with the light that inside me.

So there you have it! Even though February has been a hard month, there  have been blessings and lessons.  I am determined that this February was the last of the terrible Februaries.  Its just a month and in the words of  Florence and the Machine  "The dog days are over!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My New Frienemy: The Ruffler.

I was home a while ago and my mom gave me an attachment (they are called "feet") for my sewing machine. She said it was a ruffler and wouldn't fit her machine but she thought it would fit mine. So I took it home and it has become my newest frienemy (friend + enemy for those of you who are not familiar with the term).

The ruffler, on one hand, makes perfectly even ruffles. With other ruffling techniques, the ruffles slide around, threads break and ruffles sometimes come unraveled.  However, the ruffler produces perfect even beautiful ruffles, every single time. In this picture I would even say the ruffler looks angelic as it gathers and pleats.

So what is the problem, you may ask? While the ruffler is busy making perfect ruffles, it also stelthly and mysteriously unscrewing my needle. Sometimes I can catch this early enough and there is no harm done. Sometimes this is not the case and the momentum of the sewing machine sends my newly liberated needle crashing into the side of the ruffler.  Consequently, this breaks the needle and causes the sewing machine to make a noise similar to your molars chomping on gravel.  My heart suffers a similar fate as this noise never fails to convinces me that my sewing machine is broken forever.  Once I can breathe again and a new needle is in place, the ruffler starts once again making perfectly flawless ruffles, as if it didn't just cause momentary crafting chaos.  One end of the ruffler is also very sharp. It is hard to explain but the ruffler uses this sharp part to scrunch the fabric as the needle sews over the pleats. My deepest fear is that the ruffler will one day make waffle fries out of my fingers.

So you can see how the love/hate relationship with the ruffler has emerged.  Right now we have come to a momentary compromise. While the ruffler continues to make beautiful ruffles, I pause periodically and retighten my needle (I really can't understand how it unscrews it...) and most importantly I keep my fingers out of the way.  Today I had a perfectly delightful experience with the Ruffler. I used it for a full ten minutes with out breaking a single needle. I am a little worried that if I get to comfortable the Ruffler (doesn't that sound like a villain on Batman?) will sense my complacency and strike again. I am also afraid that it can smell fear. But for now I am just content and grateful for its exquisite ruffling abilities. And I am thankful for my fully intact fingers.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What do you think?

Sometimes when I am crafting I am positive that when my newest creation gets "released to the public" someone is going to come take it off of my hands and take it straight to the Paris runways.  The demand for my new design will be so high I will have to hire some people to work for me and I will get to quit my other job. Then I post my masterpiece to Etsy and no one seems interested. It gets very few views and no one feels compelled to make it a "favorite".  I am strong enough to take this rejection because usually there is someone out there that falls in love with my craft, it just takes a little while for that person to come forward.

So I am asking you, my loyal readers for your opinion on a new design for a bag. I had a bag similar to this when I first opened the store and it seemed really popular. I am playing around with different designs, colors and textures and have a few other bags in the works but I would love to know what you think. Should this bag be a Sew Sew Lovely staple? Or are my dreams of someone asking a celebrity "What are you wearing?" and the answer being "Sew Sew Lovely?" completely lost on this flop?

This bag is hot off the presses and I did not edit the picture like I usually do, but you get the idea. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

 Would you secretly love something from Sew Sew Lovely for Valentines Day? Even if it is a custom bag or cuff ( let me know the colors or patterns you would like). Drop some hints. Anything in my shop would be a great way to show someone (even yourself) how much you love them!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Leaving no Rhinestone Unturned

 This has come up in conversation a lot recently so I feel like I am ready to be open about it. For a pretty long time I have been a big fan of Dolly Parton.   If you know me pretty well you know this doesn't seem to fit my personality but I have always just appreciated that she is proud of who she is. Sure she is slightly outlandish but she is her own person and she has enough sense of humor to make fun of herself once in a while.

My admiration for Dolly began at a fairly young age but has hit a growth spurt recently.  Every Christmas for as long as I can remember we listened to the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton Christmas album as we decorated our Christmas tree. And we listened to this on our record player. I mean with a cover like this one who could resist adding it to their Christmas playlist? 

 My first Dolly Christmas Miracle occurred during my freshman year of college. I went to Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania for a year (very far from home). I was shopping in the local CVS and wonder of all wonders, I found the Kenny and Dolly Christmas album on CD for sale in that CVS! The other girls I was shopping were at a loss for why I was so excited and because I was still pretty shy about my love for Dolly, I did not really explain it to them.

This year my Dolly Christmas Miracle was beyond my wildest dreams.  First, I had heard that Dolly stared in a lower budget Christmas movie called "A Smokey Mountain Christmas". I was disappointed that I couldn't get this movie on my Netflix but I was willing to let it go. Then Christmas day what should be showing on CMT but "A Smokey Mountain Christmas". I was no cinematic masterpiece and there was this weird plot twist with a witch but all in all I am glad I can say I have seen it.

Not impressed with that chain of events? Just wait.  Before Christmas I entered a radio contest online to win tickets to see "9 to 5 The musical" at the Peace Center in Greenville. If you don't know "9 to 5" was  a film staring Dolly that became the highest grossing comedy of 1980.  I figured I hadn't won the contest when no one contacted me after Christmas.  Tuesday morning I woke up to my phone ringing,  I put on my best "awake voice" and answered it. The nice lady on the phone informed me that I had not only won 8 tickets to "9 to 5" I had also won dinner for 8 and a limo ride to the show!  The only catch was our tickets were for that night! So my sister and I called our fellow Dolly fans (yes there are others out there and they know who they are!) and we had a truly magical night. I don't know if you are used to riding around in a limo, but I am not and the "where did I leave my limo?" jokes really didn't ever get old.

What am I doing now to deal with post-magical Dolly/ Limo night letdown? (that feeling you inevitably feel when you wake up the morning after a fun night and you don't find a limo waiting to take you to work). Besides being unable to get "9 to 5" out of my head, I  discovered this gem of a book.

 This really is a great read and I am gathering so many priceless Dolly quotes. My favorite so far: "It costs a lot to make a person look this cheap". True that Dolly. True that.