Happy Love Day: Free Printable

Happy LOVE day from Sew Sew! Here’s a free printable for a 4.75″ x 8.875″ paper bag that can be used for collecting those lovely little valentines from secret admirers and sweet little ones.

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Set your printer to a manual setting and tape down the flap of the paper bag before running it through. And of course, be sure to do a few test runs!

I also had to post a shot of the allergen-free mini-red velvet cupcakes with coconut vanilla frosting. They were a hit with the kids and moms alike and safe for my severely food allergic lil man. I’m not very good at frosting cupcakes so I just made a squiggle on top which made them kind of look like Hostess cakes. Unintentional but a nice coincidence!

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Filed under seasons, valetines day cards

More Blessed

Chinese New Year arrives on February 10th this year and marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake. It is a day celebrated fervently in the Chinese culture and is much like Christmas. A family reunion dinner on the eve of the holiday, people lavishing each other with gifts, forgiving grudges, making resolutions. Eating, celebrating, giving, and receiving. Next year, I hope and pray we will be celebrating the Chinese New Year with our Mei Mei home. But since we continue to wait for our referral, I thought I’d share what my husband and I did for Christmas gifts to our family this year (since I’m obviously that far behind).

Each year we try something new for gifts to our immediate family. One year we gave farm animals to the African village we support in Malawi. Another year it was windmills for an organization called Africa Windmill Project run by friends who are doing amazing work in Malawi with African farmers. These were nice. Helpful. Hopeful. I made ornaments to go with each one (yes, I slacked and did not blog about them). But I couldn’t help but feel that as nice a gesture as it was, the recipient was still missing out on the full experience. We were giving but they weren’t really receiving.

This year we brainstormed and (with foolish pride) I do so love what we came up with. And for non-prideful reasons, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see it pinned across the boards and taken on as a new way of giving–at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries. To give, receive, and give again so that your recipient can feel the same joy you felt when giving them their gift. It’s like giving times 100. Paying it forward then paying it forward again. It’s re-gifting in the highest sense. So…….even though it is almost Valentine’s Day, here is our 2012 Christmas gift.

It is More Blessed to Give Than Receive

1.18.13_iphonedownload 075Materials needed:

A9 envelopes
8.5 x 11 cardstock
Baby envelopes (fit a business card)
Double-sided tape (lots of it)
Gift cards
Template for printing on baby envelopes (I followed this post and made my own)
Pretty paper
Envelope liner template (or you can make your own like I did)

You can design your card however you like. I wanted to mimic the chalk sayings that are popular these days on Pinterest and used iDraw on iPad to make my vector file. You don’t have to be this neurotic. You can totally do it by hand if you like. I set up my file in InDesign and printed the front and the inside on the 8.5 x 11 PaperBag cardstock making sure to do a couple test runs so my paper was facing the right way. Here is the text we included for the inside. Again, write whatever you like. This summed up exactly how we feel and you are more than welcome to plagarize it.

1.18.13_iphonedownload 047“And the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.'” Acts 20:35.

RECEIVE is our gift to you. Because we love you. Because we want to share what we have with you. Because what is ours is yours. Because it is fun to treat ourselves and our loved ones every once in awhile–especially at Christmas.

GIVE is your gift to give away. Leave it on the desk of a coworker in the office. Put it in with your tip for your server the next time you go out to dinner. Leave it on a seat on the Metro. Put a note with it. Stick around to see the face of the person who discovers it. Hand it to the man holding a sign on the corner. Or don’t. It is yours to give however you wish. Keep it in your wallet until just the right moment–one week from today or one year from now.Think of it as re- gifting in the highest sense.

Give to someone in need: in need of food, necessities, or just a little Christmas cheer. And if you find yourself in need this Christmas, then by all means, please keep both.

We believe that God gave us His son so that we could live and love and love more like Him. So, this Christmas we will give. And, we would like you to join us.

Sending you peace and joy and love this Christmas.

So, there it is. It was honest. It was completely and utterly from our hearts. It was intentional. And it was clear. And it was totally nervewracking to put ourselves out there like that–even to our family. And now that I think of it, to the whole wide web. But you see my point. It was necessary. They had to know that there were no strings attached. No follow ups to be concerned about. They (or you) might not share our religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that the basic notion of giving to someone who needs it won’t make you feel like a million bucks.

Okay, now back to the making of the card.

When the 8.5 x 11 was printed with the front and the inside, I used my boning tool to make a nice sharp fold.

For printing on the baby envelopes, again I used my iDraw app on my iPad to achieve that hand-drawn look for the letters. I then used this great tutorial to make my own template to print on the envelopes.

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After all the pieces were printed, I then prepared my A9 envelopes. I made an envelope liner template by tracing my A9 envelope from the inside bottom to just the top of the glue line on a piece of cardstock. I cut it out then traced the shape onto some beautiful Paper Source Lotka papers. The hand-painted paper had reds, greens and golds that I knew would pop against the black and coordinate well with the red and green baby envelopes.

1.18.13_iphonedownload 069After all the envelope liners were cut, I glued them with craft glue stick to the inside of the A9 envelopes pressing firmly.

At this stage, all of the pieces were prepared and now it was on to assembly.

Organizing my gift cards into the GIVE pile and RECEIVE pile, I assembled one card at a time to ensure I didn’t mix anyone’s gifts up. The RECEIVE gift cards were from places we knew they loved so while still a gift card, it was not without thought. I want to make an important note here. My husband and I discussed in depth the monetary value of these gifts. Should they be the same? Should the give gift be smaller than the receive? Yes, it would help with our Christmas gift budget if it was, but then, wouldn’t it undermine the whole purpose? We quickly came to the conclusion that the monetary value of the gift for GIVE must be the same as the value of RECEIVE. It had to be substantial. It had to make a difference. It had to mean something to give. It had to mean something to give AWAY.

Have you ever noticed how giving is so very hard at first? Especially to someone you don’t know or don’t really like? But have you also noticed how once you do it, you feel so good about it you want to do it again. And again. And again? It’s the best kind of addiction I can think of.

Okay, back (again) to the assembly. After sealing your baby envelopes, add the double-sided tape to the sealed side and position them on the front of the card. I then used a piece of tissue paper, cut to size, to protect the front of the card as I slid it into the A9 envelope, front first. I sealed the A9 envelope and added an additional to/from sticker to make sure the flap would stay sealed. The sticker, a customized gift tag from (surprise!) Paper Source fit the color scheme and featured a gator (go Gators!) to boot!

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I finished with a label on the back denoting the recipient.

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But wait, there’s more! Since most of these were being shipped, and since I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy on the presentation of these gifts, I didn’t dare muck up the envelope with a postage stamp, addresses, and mailing info. Oh no. Each envelope was then placed in a small gift box which was then ALSO wrapped in coordinating pin stripe, brown kraft paper then tied with natural twine and a kraft paper gift tag, again, with the recipient’s name on it. (Sorry, no pictures of this step but you can get the idea from the next picture.)

Redundant, maybe. Necessary, probably not. But the effect? AMAZINGLY LOVELY. Even though it was a couple gift of gift cards in an envelope, I didn’t want it to feel like a couple of gift cards in an envelope.

Now for one last bit. Some of these were traveling all the way to my brother’s family in Italy and my youngest niece is only two years old. And yet, I didn’t want her to miss out on the joy of receiving and giving either. So, in lieu of gift cards, C got two idential packages of cutesy, girly, fun bibs and bobs. One to keep; one to give. I’m sure some sweet little Italian toddler in her preschool class loved them!

1.18.13_iphonedownload 083And isn’t that the best part? Not only were we SO excited to give these gifts to our family, we are SO excited for the people that are going to receive THEIR gifts. Full circle. One family member has big plans for their GIVE cards and I can’t wait to post an update about that. They’re taking video of their give away. VIDEO.

And just like that we are more blessed by their blessing of others. Ah, I just love it. LOVE IT. What if this type of gift giving were to take over the world? Or at the very least, Pinterest?🙂

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Filed under china, Christmas, girl, Pinterest

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

These pretty orders shipped yesterday. So thankful for the orders coming in for the Be Mei Mei’s Valentine fundraiser!

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January 30, 2013 · 12:15 pm

The Hand that Rocks the Needle

Over the holiday weekend my sweet friend flew me up to South Carolina as a gift for editing her two young adult novels. It was wonderful to have some down time, and let’s face it, get a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep–three nights in a row, no less!

I told her I was going to “nerd it up” and bring my latest embroidery projects with me. Oh, and did I ever.

Now available in the Sew Sew Etsy shop as an additional fundraiser for our little girl, you can find my original “You are Here” design as hand-embroidered wall art. With news last week of our official log-in date to China, we are now playing the waiting game for a referral to see our little girl’s sweet face. So, while I wait, I will sew.

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Each piece is hand-embroidered by me with the utmost attention to detail using rich, red thread and a beautiful, thick chain stitch to outline the heart. Deep black thread is back-stitched then whip-stitched to outline the loving, hopeful message of “You are here.” The “X” marks the spot! As a Valentine’s Day gift, anniversay gift, or a “Just Because I Love You” gift it can’t help but warm a heart.

Each piece is unique and I think that’s what makes them extra special–no machine here!  Measuring 4.5″ x 5″, each piece comes in its own 7″ embroidery hoop but will also fit nicely in an IKEA RIBBA frame. Here is a post about another embroidery project I did that looks nice framed. Leave it in its hoop and hang it on the wall, put it in a RIBBA frame, or get crafty and sew it into a sweet accent pillow.

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While in Greenville I also picked up some new handmade pieces by other artists I love. Here is a darling Annie Koelle piece I picked up at Art & Light Gallery. Also, some cool laser-cut leather bracelets by Sarah Mandell at Once Again Sam from a sneak peek I got of her Spring collection. I’m loving the game day combo.

Photo Jan 24, 9 08 47 AM

Photo Jan 24, 9 09 06 AM

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Filed under adoption, china, embroidery, Etsy, girl, Sew Sew, small business, travel

A Different Kind of Post: Be Mei Mei’s Valentine

Our Christmas wish was answered—a US-approved, Chinese consulate-approved inch-thick stack of paperwork encompassing nearly every detail of our lives has landed in China. AS. I. TYPE. THIS.

But this is a crafting blog, not an adoption blog so this post is going to only be a little different.

Mei Mei in Chinese means little sister. This year, we are hoping/praying/waiting to bring our little mei mei home from China and officially make her a part of our family.

Even though we haven’t seen her face yet, we love her. We love her with all our being.

I’m not good at spilling my guts (privately and especially publicly) but what I will say of our story to how we got here is this:

The waiting, the hoping, the disappointments, the praying, praying, praying. The reality of millions of orphaned children in the world, seeing it and feeling it with our own eyes, hearts and hands. The tears of frustration, the tears of joy, the praying, praying, praying. The red tape, the rejections, the pure desperation of it all.

And now—NOW—it is almost so close I can touch it.

FOUR.

Our little family of three is bursting with love and anticipation for our mei mei. And we don’t even know her yet.

This is where you and this little crafting blog come in. Even though the Christmas holiday is just seconds behind us, I’m going to go against my usual distaste for the commercial mayhem that ensues as one holiday comes to an end and another simultaneously begins. So in this upcoming season of love, hearts and all things red and pink, we come to you—our friends, family and dearly loved—to help bring our mei mei home.

We are launching a Be Mei Mei’s Valentine Fundraiser by selling an original Valentine’s Day card created and designed by me (with a little file formatting help from my good friend and brilliant graphic designer friend Chris Jones at Popcorn Initiative.)

Created and designed by Sew Sew by Audrey Perrott

Created and designed by Sew Sew by Audrey Perrott

These sweet and simple A6 bi-fold cards are the perfect card to send your Valentine and loved ones. Printed locally at a boutique press on eco-friendly 140#C French Paper, (ooh la la!) they are heavy and delightful and beg to be touched. They are of the highest quality, especially for all of you paper-philes out there. Each card is screen printed and comes with a thick and beautiful red A6 envelope from another favorite paper love, Paper-Source.

Bold and beautiful, ruby red

Bold and beautiful, ruby red

In addition to being beautifully made, these cards hold the hope, love and anticipation of bringing a little girl home to our family—one who lives worlds away without any family of her own. On the back of each card there is a simple message letting your recipient know that your love is even bigger than just them.

Message on back of card

Message on back of card

While we have yet to see our Mei Mei’s face or hear her little voice, she is already in our hearts. God has been using this journey/struggle/adventure to show us that. Turns out, she always has been.

Mei Mei, YOU are here. Now, let’s get you HERE.

Be Mei Mei’s Valentine cards are now available for pre-orders in my Sew Sew Etsy shop and will be available to ship by January 16th.

Also, limited, hand-embroidered (by me) prints of this simple, sweet message and design will be available in the coming weeks.

And with that, I want to thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for considering purchasing some cards for your loved ones to help our littlest love. If you feel so inclined to share this link or the Sew Sew Etsy shop with your friends and family so they too can purchase cards for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, or just because, oh, I won’t stop you.

Most of all, thank you for loving our little girl as much as we do to help bring her home.

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Filed under adoption, china, Etsy, girl, Sew Sew, valetines day cards

Chromatic

I love order. I love sewing. And I love this baby quilt. So much.

Made from scraps from multiple Sew Sew projects over the years, it makes use of all my favorite fabrics in one quilted blanket of chromatic bliss.

Not sure if I should keep it or sell it. I will have a little girl in the next year but we also have adoption costs to bring her home. What do you think?

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Filed under boy, fabric scraps, girl, recycling, Sew Sew

Tailgating Toddlers

Football season is around the corner and tailgating times aren’t far behind. And even though our college days are a distant memory it doesn’t mean we can’t cheer on our team with toddler in tow. And what’s a tailgate without the game of cornhole? Not much of a tailgate if you ask me.

Using scrap triangles from a current quilt project (pics of that coming soon), I fashioned some bean bags (or corn bags rather) by sewing two triangles along the horizontal to make a two-toned square. I started with 24, 4 1/2″ triangles, in sets of four with three main colors: turquoise, red, and pink. These will be the teams.

(Note: I am never good at taking pictures at the beginning of a project but I do have many towards the end. Sorry!)

I chose coordinating triangles from my scrap pile and sewed them together to make a 4 1/2″ square. I then cut 12, 4 1/2″ squares from my backing fabric, a natural muslin I snagged at IKEA for $1.99/yard.

Sew a color square to a backing, right sides together leaving one edge open to fill with your beans (or in my case corn kernels). Trim the excessmaking sure to cutting the corners on the diagnol to make a nicer corner when you turn them inside out.

After turning them right side out, press with your iron making a hem on the open side.

Pressed empty bags

Here are the pressed bags waiting to be filled

Filling the bean bags

A family affair

Using a funnel, fill your bags with your bean of choice 2/3-3/4 full. I went with white hulled corn kernels but any dry bean will do. BP and LP even got in on the action for this one. It was a fun activity for the littlest (albeit messy).

Filled but open bags

Filled but open bags

Safety pin the open side or sit them upright until your ready to sew them closed. I set mine in a 9 x 9 baking dish which kept everything tidy and upright while I vacuumed rogue kernels off the floor.

I hand stitched the open side using a basket weave stitch and doubled thread. You can machine sew them if you like using a zipper foot but mine were too full and kept losing kernels. You’ll want to use less filling if you go this route.

There you have it–12 bean bags, 4 per team–soft and light for little hands but weighty enough for a mean game of cornhole.

Finished bean bags

box goals

Bubble Lawn Mover box turned Cornhole goals

For the “goals,” you can use any box, basket or bucket. It can be used as-is or transformed into a traditional cornhole goal. I kept the box from a recent gift from GG knowing it was the perfect shape and size to recycle into goals. Using my yard stick and cereal bowl (see, not so fancy here!) I drew circles for the holes and a diagonal line on either side to cut.

It required kitchen shears and duct tape but once complete I had two, same-sized goals perfect for game day or any day that wouldn’t be complete with cornhole. I may paint or cover the goals at some point to hide its original use but for the time being, they do the trick!

Finished cornhole game

Toddler Tailgating

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Filed under fabric scraps, games, recycling