Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Suzi Homemaker Embroidered Menu

Spring is arguably the most beautiful time of year for wedding celebrations and other special events such as Mother's Day, bridal and baby showers and graduations. Why not add some simple, yet elegant touches to your gathering by incorporating embroidery into your decor?

Last year, my sister was hosting a bridal shower for a friend and she asked me for some ideas for special personalized gifts that she knew her friend would treasure more than the obligatory place setting. I suggested some monogrammed linens that the bride could use on her wedding day, such as lingerie and shoe bags, a hankie with blue stitching to fulfill the "something blue" requirement and linen towels with the married couple's initials on them.

Then a thought occured to me to add a unique touch to the party decor. Not too long ago, Steve and I had hosted a dinner party where I embroidered the menu on a linen napkin, which I then hung on the wall. We decided to take that idea a step further by stitching out the shower menu and then mounting it on a fabric board which we placed on an easel near the buffet. The bride loved it so much that she had it framed for display in her dining room.

Another idea is to stitch the menu on one end of a table runner, which then can be placed on the table or hung on the back of a chair. The one pictured here has a pocket stitched on the opposite side where you can insert a dowel or other type of weight to hold the runner in place. What a relatively simple way to set your party apart--elegant embroidery that adds a sophisticated touch and makes for a treasured keepsake of a memorable occasion.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Identical blankets for identical twins

Perhaps one of my favorite things to create is a custom embroidered minky blanket. I have been told by several recipients that my minky blankets have "magical" qualities that set out to soothe cranky little ones with their cuddliness. For those of you that don't know what minky is, it is perhaps the softest fabric on the planet. I have heard its texture compared to dipping your hand into a bowl of flour. It comes in many varieties (Babycapes are made using several different varieties of minky including cuddle, marshmallow and sherpa suede) and I have used most of them at one time or another while making blankets for treasured babies.

Recently, I was contacted by a customer who wanted me to create two blankets for identical twin girls. After perusing my photo gallery for ideas, and discussing fabric choices, we set about picking the fabrics. The mother of the twins dresses one girl in pink and one in lavender, so we settled on chocolate brown and pink and chocolate brown and lavender minky polka dot with pink and lavender rosebud backing.

Then we discussed design choices and decided that since the fabric was so luxurious we would use a simple, elegant monogram with each girl's name embroidered on top with a single butterfly (see photo above). I created the designs using my embroidery software, then began constructing the blankets. I cut the fabric and serged the edges, then embroidered the designs on the blanket tops. Then I set about assembling the blankets and stitching them together. Minky fabric is very stretchy, making it difficult to sew. The fabric curls and stretches so much, it's hard to keep to a particular measurement. I have found that by adhering lightweight, tearaway stabilizer to the backs of the minky prior to sewing cuts down on the stretch considerably. I also use my walking foot on my sewing machine in order to feed both layers of fabric through my sewing machine more evenly and easily. After sewing the layers together right sides facing each other, leaving a small hole on the side, I remove the stablizer, then turn the fabric right side out. I use a bamboo stiletto to make sharp points in the four corners and then topstitch the blankets using a small zigzag stitch to allow for stretch. The final step is to slipstitch the opening closed by hand.

Once I finished both blankets, I placed them one on top of the other, and, miracle of miracles, the blankets were the exact same size. The finished products are pictured below. Hopefully, these blankets will soothe and comfort Avery and Kinsleigh for many years to come!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Zyma Derm - MIRACLE cure for molluscum

I have to write and tell you about this incredible product from Naturopathix, Inc., called ZymaDerm. ZymaDerm is a homeopathic remedy used to treat molluscum contagiosm. For those of you that aren't familiar with molluscum, it is a pox virus that affects mostly children, although it also can be found in adults with certain immune deficiencies.

This is what I have learned from many sources over the years (this is written from memory, so I have not cited any particular sources--trust me, if you have dealt with something like this for several years, you would be an expert on the topic, too!): Mollusca appear on the skin as flesh-colored, dome-shaped growths--similar to warts or moles. As the name implies, it is highly contagious, especially in young children who have not developed immunities to the virus. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact and has been rumored to spread through swimming pools or contact with gymnastic or wrestling mats or changing pads at daycare centers. It is considered a benign virus which traditionally has been treated, similar to warts, by freezing the mollusca off with liquid nitrogen or "zapping" with an electric needle. Most pediatricians advise against treatments for small children as the cure seems worse than the virus, which eventually will go away on its own.

Max has had a few mollusca over the past couple of years, but he never really paid any particular attention to them unless someone else was paying attention to them. He's had one on his forehead and a couple on his trunk. Sophie had two on her chest of which she was very cognizant. She religiously washed her hands after touching or scratching the bumps to prevent them from spreading and, thankfully, hers are gone.

Poor Carly developed molluscum last summer. She had two very large mollusca--one the size of a pencil eraser--in the crease of her left arm (common since it is a place where the skin rubs against itself). Carly could not keep her hands off of the bumps and I can't say I blame her. To me, it's the equivalent of having a large, ripe whitehead on your forehead--it begs to be squeezed or picked at. I tried diligently to keep her hands washed, but there was just no way to prevent the bumps from spreading. A couple of weeks ago I noticed she had some developing under her right arm. I was not looking forward to the weather becoming warmer as I knew her bumps would be visible and would subject her to ridicule from other children--a couple of Sophie's friends had made remarks about the bumps. Carly could care less if children were to tease her, but I couldn't bear the thought of anyone picking on her because of her "cooties." I was at a loss.

I ran into our pediatrician at school a couple of weeks ago and asked her if she could recommend something as I had been told by our former pediatrician that there was no topical remedy to treat the virus. She told me she had heard of a homeopathic remedy, but was not quite sure of the name. When I got home that afternoon I Googled "homeopathic treatment for molluscum contagiosm" and that's how I discovered the Naturopathix website and their amazing product, ZymaDerm.

According to the website, "ZymaDerm™ is the only FDA approved patented full strength topical homeopathic molluscum formula available anywhere." It is made from thuja extract which is derived from conifer trees. It is non-toxic. The site has some very dramatic "before" and "after" pictures, such as the "before" picture at right. I read through the testimonials and was sold. Not knowing how long it would take to treat Carly's bumps (I would say she has a moderate case of molluscum), I ordered two bottles.

My order arrived on Saturday--two small vials of ZymaDerm and the company also included a body wash which I was to use after seven days of treatment if the molluscum did not appear to be any better. After Carly's bath that evening I carefully applied the ZymaDerm to her bumps. I have to tell you that the product does not have the best smell--it's a very strong, menthol or camphor smell, but I think I would tolerate skunk oil if it did what this product did. After two applications, I am happy and amazed to report that her bumps are almost completely gone! The two especially nasty-looking bumps on her left arm are nearly invisible. This product is INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend it to anyone who is suffering with this virus. If you are not completely satisfied (which I cannot imagine), you may return the unused portion to Naturopathix for a full refund. They have removed all of the risk for you, so there really is no reason not to try this wonderful product. I am so thankful to have found this website and product--it has made a tremendous difference in our lives in a very short period of time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recipeasy Monday: Suzi Homemaker's homemade spaghetti sauce

I rarely buy spaghetti sauce in a jar because it is so simple to make from scratch! I have made several variations, one using chicken stock, but I always come back to this easy one. You can add cooked ground beef, turkey, meatballs or sausage if you prefer a meat sauce. You also can add other vegetables, such as sliced button mushrooms, olives or peppers, just add them after the tomatoes have simmered a bit and cook till desired tenderness.

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
12 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 small jar tomato paste
2-3 teaspoons Polaner's chopped basil (you may also use 1/4 C chopped fresh basil)
1 teaspoon Polaner's chopped oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent.
2. Add Roma tomatoes and heat through.
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Serve over your favorite pasta with a salad and garlic bread.