Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Holiday Giveaway

I am collaborating with Jessica from Beyond the Wanderlust Photography today and offering a Black Friday Holiday Giveaway. Hop on over to her blog for the details about entering the contest for two of my vintage inspired Christmas stockings!!

vintage inspired Christmas stocking by Mama Bleu Designs on etsy

Good luck!!

Gratitude Tree 2014

It's been over a month now since I first intended to put up a new sign and note cards for adding messages of gratitude. I finally did it the day before Thanksgiving, about 2 months later than last year. My Gratitude Tree stands ready - its limbs waiting to be decorated with notes of gratitude declarations for all to see!

I was thinking about the impact this tree has made on our neighbors. At least once a month since I took the notes down last January, my husband and I have gotten comments from people who are walking or driving by. They stop to say that they loved the idea, how much they miss it and wonder if I'll do it again.

About an hour after I put a new sign out I saw two women pull their car over and squeal with excitement as they approached the tree. "It's back!" I don't know who was more excited....them or me. I love seeing people stop, take photos and attach their notes. It really does make my day!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Make Your Own Small Zipper Pouch #diy #zipperbag #mamableudesigns

As I was creating the 90 little zipper pouches for the China retreat gift bags I snapped a few photos so I could teach you how to create a simple Little Zipper Bag of your own. I love the size because it can be used as a coin purse, an organizer pouch to put inside a larger bag or even a gift card holder for someone on your holiday gift list. #diy #zipperbag #mamableudesigns

You can go out and purchase some fabric for this project but you may have all you need at home because it doesn't take much fabric to make this. The two outside squares and the two inside squares are 6" x 6". There's no rules for the colors. Make it matchy-matchy or a mix of colors! Even the zipper can be a playful color.

Add your zipper face down on the right side of your fabric with long edges matching. Sew from one end to the other, back stitching to secured each end. Attach one of the lining sections with the right side facing the right of the outside fabric. The zipper should be sandwiched between the two. Stitch right over the previous stitch line, back stitching at both ends. Top stitch on the lining side, catching the zipper tape and seam. Repeat with the other two fabric pieces, attaching it to the other half of the zipper.

I have a collection of assorted zippers and when I use one that is too long for the size of my project, I use it anyway. Once the zipper is sewn in I simply sew back and forth over the zipper a few times and create a new zipper stop beyond the seam edge. Then, using a part of scissors other than my nice sharp sewing scissors, I cut off the excess.

Press each section flat. Open the zipper part way and pin with right sides together, front against front and lining against lining. Stitch all the way around the edges using a 1/4" seam and leaving about a 3" opening along the bottom edge of the lining for turning the bag. Clip the corners but be careful not to cut too close to the seam.  Turn right side out and use a point turner to push out the corners to make them nice and square. This is only necessary for the exterior section of the bag.

Pin the opening closed by folding in the raw edges and matching the folded edges. Top stitch near the edge from one end of the opening to the other. Back stitch at both ends.

Push the lining to the inside and use your fingers to work the corners of the lining into the corners of the bag. Press with an iron and voila! You have your very own little zipper bag! #diy #zipperbag #mamableudesigns

Friday, November 21, 2014

Postcards from China

We saw so much and did so many things during our week in China. It's hard to narrow it down to just a few photos. Here are a few "postcards" from our trip!

The Temple of Heaven - The only temple in China without an idol

We could have eaten these mandarin oranges all day. They were so yummy!!

At the Great Wall of China

We found out that the older women (on the left) was 80 years old and this was her first visit to the Wall.

There were so many ways that we were able to minister to the women at the retreat. A member of our team cut hair just about every spare minute she had. One of the ladies had 16" cut off and asked us to donate it to "Locks of Love"!

Each of the women received a gift bag when they arrived.

A watercolor and calligraphy artists at work. I brought one of these home as a souvenir of our trip.

A restaurant where our entire team gathered on the last night of our stay. The meal was an amazing feast that the conversation was so encouraging!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mama Bleu Goes to China

Call me crazy for stepping away from my Etsy shop and Mama Bleu Designs studio for a couple of weeks at the start of the holiday season, but that's what I did for the first 2 weeks of November. During that time I joined a group of 11 amazing women from our church and traveled to China. We’ve been planning this trip for almost a year and preparing for it since late Summer.

Now that I’m home it seems so surreal, but while we were there we helped facilitate a Women’s Retreat for 87 ladies who really need to know that they are cared about and loved. We ate meals with them. We listened to their stories. We laughed and cried together. We hugged them and prayed for them. And we gave them a bag of gifts….each lovingly made for them!

You may remember that last year I helped out with what I called “Project Breathe”. I added some Mama Bleu touches to several pre-made bags for the group of women who attended last year’s event. This year I was honored to create even more goodies for the women in China including these little zipper pouches. I can’t tell you what a joy it was to see the faces of the ladies when they opened their bags. So much handmade goodness!!

Now that I’m home and almost over the effects of jet lag I’ll be getting back to my regular routine. I’ll be creating gifts for the holiday season and enjoying my business even more just knowing that the handmade items I create are bringing joy all over the world, especially to those amazing women in China.