The Coral Cottage

October 2, 2015

what do you give your sister-in-law (who also happens to be one of your best friends) for a milestone birthday? Something very cheap but also very special!! It’s a win win really!

They have a little cottage that is so warm and welcoming (just like they are) that they recently painted and now refer to as “the coral cottage”. So my first thought was to do a rough painting of it but my painting skills are pretty rusty and plus that would mean digging all the art supplies from out of the basement, ugh! Who wants to do that!? 

So why not stitch it? I started by photographing it this summer, isn’t it just so inviting?

Next I drew up a rough drawing with my super professional supplies of Notebook, pen and quilting ruler. Then added some color just to see how it worked out. Like my fancy try at chairs in the front there? They didn’t quite make the final draft.

I’m really bad at keeping my projects a secret and I like to get feedback from others so this little rough draft was texted off to Mom and Auntie (my sister). I was actually just hoping it would be recognizable to them! 

Next I traced onto the wonder that is Pellon Stick n’ washaway making little changes as I went. This stuff really is awesome as I don’t like to trace directly onto my fabrics and I usually can’t see through the darker ones anyways. Save yourself a headache and buy a pack at Joanns! 

 There was lots of referring back to my pictures for little details and colors when choosing my embroidery floss. 
As this was going to be just a sketch type stitching I wanted to get the flower boxes just right. And she is a pretty awesome gardener that I wanted to do justice to! Lots of French Knots, little bits of green and hints of orange.

 One of my favorite things to do is blend floss, by using two strands of one orange  and one of another it gave me just the color I was looking for. I think it gave the chimney just the right color too.

We are Of Dutch heritage, hence the tulip and Start is their last name. I wanted to incorporate these into my work so I added it to the bottom changing it up just a little.

When all was done I simply rinsed away the Pellon product and laid it out to dry. I later used startch to dampen it and stretched it in the hoop nice and tight to get any wrinkles out, worked pretty good.

All done, a little wonky and crocked in spots but loving and cozy just like the house itself.

Oh and I think it’s safe to say she liked it😉

Creative Confidence

September 2, 2015

This week I’ve been struggling a little with creative confidence. I’m sure we all have it at times. I am new to the world of sewing, stitching and creating “all the things”. I don’t quite live-sleep-breath it…yet. 
I started this journey over the summer with a goal in mind, compleat the book Sweetly Stitched Handmades and all its projects. Each week I knew what to make and I had everything I needed to do it. Along the way I had so much support and encouragement from the Instagram community. 

Now that it’s over I’ve been questioning my next makes and doubting I have the skills to create anything on my own. Now that I have more than a handful of followers on social media I have been reluctant to post my not so perfect makes. I am trying to find the balance between posting pretty pictures and sharing my day to day life, which lets be honest: life in a house with 4 MEN is not so pretty sometimes (most of the time). I realize I am probably not the only one struggling with this so here’s what I told myself last night and I will say it to you too. 

You can do it!

Your work is good enough!

You ARE talented!

Be yourself and who God has made YOU to be!

Of course these are things that can be applied to any part of our lives not just creating. Don’t let fear and self doubt stop you, do your best and have fun doing it. And also authenticity, even when it’s not pretty is refreshing in a world that’s consumed by “perfection” and only showing our “good” sides.

So with that I’m going to tackle the pile of dirty dishes and later squeeze in some imperfect, wonky stitching. And if it’s not pretty enough for someone, that’s ok. I am still learning and I insist on having fun and enjoying the whole process… Seam rippers, crooked stitches and all.

Sweetly Stitched Handmades recap

August 23, 2015

Its been a summer for sewing over here and most of my makes have been from a book called Sweetly Stitched Handmades by Amy Sinibaldi of Nanacompany She has been a big inspiration for my getting into sewing in the first place. I was able to snatch up a signed copy of her book in January and I distinctly remember my mom asking me what I would make from the book. My answer: “I probably won’t make anything but it will be fun to look through”… Please laugh with me now!!! My first few makes were out of a need for a couple cute gifts and some handy bags for my boys.image

Around this time I found out about a sew along on Instagram to go with the book. I was new to IG and didn’t know more than a few other crafters but I was eager to find people with the same taste for sweet zakka style handmades. I made my inspiration post of six items and hoped I would be able to make one every two weeks. Then an idea hit, what if I tried to make one “easy” project and one bigger one for each round. My first “bigger” project was the Starburst Dresden pillow. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the directions and at one point I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and decided to just trust that the instructions were right and even if I couldn’t picture what came next it would turn out in the end. It did and it was one of my favorite things to make! I so enjoyed the combination of appliqué, hand stitching and machine sewing that it was fun from start to finish!image

It doesn’t hurt either that I love the greens and pinks and little Heather Ross frog in the center! It was such an honor to have my pillow along with others beautiful makes shown off on my favorite blog NanaCompany! What a surprise!

image Along the way I also found the joy in sharing my work with others and getting their feed back. It’s one thing to creat something and show a few friends (who most likely will love it just because you made it) it’s a whole new feeling to have strangers complement your work! Encouragement and inspiration will take you to new levels in any craft!! The past 12 weeks have brought many new friendships that I never thought I would have, what a blessing!image

The Stacked Hexigon Mug Rug was another favorite make of mine. It made a sweet gift for a new friend. One of my favorite parts of making is the fabric selection and with all these tiny hexies there are endless possibilities. By this time in the sew along I was starting to feel a bit more confident in my abilities but still couldn’t imagine I would ever finish all 18 projects by the end of the SAL.


More cute makes for more cute little people in my life. A miniature bear pillow for a new nephew, a Many Pockets house for twin nieces and a mini quilt with hand stitched  animals from Mollie Johansons book Stitch Love.


Little by little and stitch by stitch I got closer and closer to completing every project in the book. It was a combination of a few free minutes here and there paired with long nights while boys slept and husband worked. What you don’t see here are a handful of other projects I somehow managed to whip up from other books or tutorials and LOTS of summer fun with my three boys, all squeezed into 12 weeks. image

Looking back it seems a bit crazy to have made ALL 18 projects but this has been a huge learning experience for someone who didn’t know appliqué from anything. Some projects were harder than others (I’m talking to you on the spot trivet!) and some were surprisingly easy breezy, but all fun in the end! I’ve learned to trust my gut a bit more and to (mostly) embrace the mistakes and let it be a bit wonky. Most of all I’ve tried to enjoy the making process, to not get caught up in winning a prize or worrying about what others think or who’s tallent is far more skilled than mine but to just enjoy the process and where I am at now. I hope I have put my own spin on projects with out losing the beauty of the original design. I’ve come a long way these past 12 weeks in my sewing and it’s all thanks to Amy and her wonderful book, Melissa and Anorina for hosting such a fabulous sew along and to all the wonderful friends who have encouraged me and helped me along the way. Thank you! It’s been a blast!

August 7, 2015


To you this may just look like a cute pile of fabric but to me it is so much more. Almost two years ago I was on a mission to find a baby bedding set to go with our RED nursery. Everything I saw that would match was either  ugly with fire trucks or modern and way too much money. So I started looking on pintrest for ideas, famous last words right? One rabbit trail led to another and I found this amazing blanket posted by someone on Flicker image

I was drawn into the bold modern mix of colors paired with cute and whimsical puppies, girls and boys on scooters. Enter the world of fabric designer Aneela  Hoey. I loved how the maker of this quilt did something so simple so as not to take attention away from the fabric but to draw your eye to the prints on it. The only quilting I had ever known was rather dark with lots of busy details and complicated designs in the quilting. I still find myself going for things that really showcase the fabrics.

In the end the baby blanket I made was just what I had wanted, something modern yet whimsical and sweet.image

I’m sure everyone has that something that drew them into the world of making, that made you stop and go “hey, I think I could do that” and for me this was it. I had a need, I found inspiration, got supplies, borrowed a sewing machine, watched lots of tutorials and I’m sure did everything wrong. But it was great and I loved every step of the creating process… So when I see this line called Sherbet Pips, it always brings me back to the sweet beginning. And since it was on Instagrams “great fabric destash” for a very reasonable price, I just had to get some! And now I see I need those cute puppies in every color too😉

Little Notebook Cover Tutorial 

June 10, 2015

 Here is a quick step by step tutorial for a easy notebook cover. These are just very basic instructions and can be tweaked to meet your needs and desires. I must apologize in advance, I am a visual learner and am not very detailed in my instructions. If you have any questions I am happy to answer and explain more as best I can. That being said, this is very easy and I don’t think it can be messed up too bad😉 

*You will need:

 two fat quarters of fabric or less depending on how big your notebook is, a piece of batting and basic sewing knowledge.

Start with a notebook of your choice, I used a simple white Moleskin about 4×6 inches. Place about an inch of extra fabric going around and fold fabric over to line up. Use a ruler to cut fabric (for best results remove book before you cut😉).


For the inside left pocket:

Take two cuts of fabric, wrong sides facing and double fold the top of the back edge over the front fabric then fold the side edge as shown. Clip in place. 

To make the notebook pocket fold the edge of your fabric to make a nice edge and line up, trim to size.

Sew the top of the pocket and the side of the notebook sleve .

  Next up, fold in half and finger press so you can see where the center of your book is. Layer batting, then your inside fabric and pockets, placing them where you want them to go. Pin a piece of ribbon in half just off of the center so when you sew the center seam it will catch and you will have a loop for your pen to go in. Last place your outside fabric on top facing in. Pin or clip around so it’s ready to sew. Using a 1/4 seam allowance stitch around leaving an opening to turn right side out.

I like to use a knitting needle to get my corners nice. Before stitching closed, I added snaps to the inside so they wouldn’t show on the front. (Other options would be a cute botton with elastic loop or ribbon for tying closed. Both of those options would need to be added and sewn in the steps before this one.) The snap on the right is attached inside the pocket and the one on the left is attached on the inside by the batting. 

Fold your opening in nice and clip around. Top stitch with a 1/8 inch stitch all the way around. 


Using your center fold line as a guide stitch the center, backstitching at both ends and making sure to catch the edges of your ribbon pen holder.

  Now that the inside is all done you can have fun filling it up with things you will use or make it a cute gift for someone else. I’m thinking that pocket would make a good gift card holder too😉 My original idea with this was for a grocery list and coupon holder but the options are endless depending on your needs.

I decided to appliqué hexigons to the front of mine but a sweet patch or hand embroidered “journal” note would also be sweet. 


And one last little touch of sweetness on the back.  

I hope you have fun making your own!

March 29, 2015

I have been playing around with easter baskets lately and I thought I would share a pretty simple one I ended up liking a lot.

First I tried a round one with heavy weight interfacing…

Cute, but lots of mistakes.

Next I tried a more rectangular shape with mid weight interfacing, it went pretty quick and I love how it turned out. It was going to be for my youngest but it looks to cute on the mantle to take down☺️


Here are my step by step rough directions:

First cut fabric, I was making two baskets so I had 4 pieces of fabric for outside and lining, also you may cut interfacing at this time and iron to the fabric you want on the outside of the basket. You can see my measurements are roughly 14×10. After ironing interfacing fold in half lengthwise and cut the bottom corners out, 2×2 for a small basket like this will do (I actually stacked all four layers and cut them at once).


Next sew the sides together and fold the 2×2 square closed as shown. Repeat for second (inside) fabric.


Take your two fabrics and place one inside the other with right sides facing


Using pins or clips to hold in place, sew around top edge leaving a 2-3 inch hole for turning right side out.


Next stitch the hole closed and top stitch all the way around to give it a nice finished look. Fold down as far as you would like, to show off the pretty lining. I turned about one inch for these.


To make the handle I cut a piece of heavy stabilizer one inch by… I don’t remember how long I cut it!! I held it up to the basket to see just how long I wanted the handle to be. Next lay that piece on your fabric and wrap it so it’s completely covered. Cut the fabric and clip or pin to hold while you sew. I used a zigzag stitch so I didn’t need to fold the fabric under and it actually looked cute too.

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Fold the ends of the fabric in like you would when wrapping a gift and stitch back and forth to set your stitches.


Now clip handle into place on the outside of the basket and sew into place. Or you can use cute boutons and stitch those on to attach the handle like I did in my second blue bunny basket. Either way you are all finished and have a cute basket!


Thanks for stopping by Sarana Ave!

Dinner: Beer Butt Chicken

February 26, 2015

Here’s a great roast chicken recipe, seriously it’s the only one you will ever need. Juicy and flavorful and not much fuss.

im going to keep it quick so as not to complicate this easy one.

coat inside and out of a whole chicken with about 3/4 cup salt, set in fridge for 1-2 hours


Next, rinse salt off and coat chicken with a mixture of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and salt. No need to measure just pour into a little bowl and mix. I used garlic salt and only a tiny bit of salt and a little chili powder so the little ones would still be able to enjoy some krispy skin 😊


Once your chicken is coated in seasoning seat her nicely on a can of beer that is half empty, any kind will do. Your chicken should be sitting with its legs making a sort of tripod to keep it from falling over mid cooking. Tuck her wings so she looks like she’s mad at you 😉 (and so they don’t burn). There she’s all ready to go. Set your oven rack to the lowest so she has room to stand up in there.


Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or till its 165 in the thickest part. Usually no more than an hour and twenty min.


Now if you could only smell how great this thing is!! Let it set for 10 minutes so the juices settle before cutting into it.

tonight we also had baby carrots cooked with a little butter, water, maple syrup, cinnamon and cloves and Brusselsprouts sautéed in leftover bacon grease 😊 (those were the best!).


My good lighting was gone by the time we ate😳

tomorrow I’m boiling down what remains of our roast and making a chicken soup.

i hope you try this and that your children and loved ones fight over the skin and juicy meat and clamor for seconds and thirds like mine do😊


Mail Organizer

February 24, 2015

Today I finished MY mail organizer and I am very happy with how it turned out!! After making my son a little wall hanging/ organizer I wanted to tweak it more to suit my needs (and my ever growing pile of mail!). So tweak I did and trim and eyeball and trim again till it was just what I needed. 

I used a heavy duty sew-in stabilizer as my base then stitched the navy and ticking fabrics one at a time onto that adding the ribon to the tops. I embroidered the two linen patches in navy using two different methods. The address one is ironed on with interfacing to give it a “label” look and the other was made to look like a patch and is only attached by the corner stitches. Lastly I bound the linen backing to the front and made my corners as neat as possible, they do seem better than my last so I guess that’s improvment!A favorite feature is the tiny Eiffel Tower tag. My husband says we have too many Eiffel towers in our house, he is right and I should probably count to see how many times it appears around here. Rainy day kids game! But they are just too great!


A nice little reminder to organize! I actually need a big, HUGE reminder to not only organiz but also clean and pick up but this nice little one will hopefully at least help with the mail organization. The tiny clothespins are from Target’s dollar spot, 20 for a dollar and they are just too cute. I picked them up about a week ago so they might still have them 😉

The crochet ribon trim was a last minute addition and I wasn’t sure if it was too girlie or cutesy so I asked my oldest and he said it looked “cool”, I think he was right.And now here it is in its final resting place, bad lighting and all by the desk, chocked full of bills and junk to organize! And after filling it I now think it will need to be tacked to the wall so it will hang nicely. Just another tweak ☺️

A Little Needlebook

February 17, 2015


I stayed up way too late but it felt so good to start and finish a project in one night!

i flowed a Nanacompany Needlebook tutorial (find it on my Pinterest “sew” board), but just like I do my own thing with recipes I wanted to put my own spin on this little thing too.

For Valentine’s Day I had ordered some fancy little needles and an embroidery scissors (who needs flowers anyways?😉) and now I have a perfectly portable place for them. image image

I added the little pockets to keep my floss handy and also the little elastic loop to hold the cool little case for storing my embroidery needles in. The inside fabric is Robert Kaufman chevron in teal and the cute little flowers on the cover are by Tasha Noel.image

Here’s the center felt page for storing needles, color coordinating needles too!

Another feature I added was a little snap on a ribbon to hold my new little scissors in place. I think I’ll tweek the placement of these additions on my next book, but worked out pretty well since I was eyeballing it on everything. A little crooked in places but let’s just say that adds to the charm of having something handmade ☺️

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And in closing, if my son sees these next pictures I will never get my Needlebook back. I was just playing around and thinking of other uses for this. Maybe I’ll have to make him his own. Or even a little lego guy case! Hmmm…

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Soup’s on!

February 15, 2015

i love finding good recipes and to me the easier the better. I’m all about the one pot meal and “Eyeballing” it. A dash of this a little of that is all it takes. Any unnecessary steps that can be eliminated or made easier are put to memory for next time. I often edit as I go and remember what can be fixed for next time. Ok, so I do look at measurements but more for reference and not as a rule.

so be warned: if you are looking for handholding, step by step instructions and exact measurements you are at the wrong place.

However if you are looking for a delicious easy meal for dinner, search no more you have come to the right place!

tonight we have a wonderfully simple winter soup!

Sausage Potato Kale Soup


Start with 1-2lbs Italian sausage hot, mild or both. For a lighter version use turkey sausage.

onion, garlic (I like a couple spoonfuls of the diced kind in the jar)

cook in soup pot over medium high heat chopping the sausage down as it cooks


Next add kale, fresh or frozen about 2-4 cups worth depending how much you have on hand. It will cook down and add not only nutrition but great color and flavor to your soup.

also at this time you may season with about a teaspoon of nutmeg which will add a nice sweetness.


After the kale has wilted down add your 6-8 cups chicken broth (my husband likes his soups more  “brothy” and I like mine thicker so I try to get it right in the middle).

next add your diced potatoes, I used about 5cups of red skin ones so I didn’t have to do any peeling. For an even easier option you can always grab a bag of fresh or frozen diced potatoes from the store!

cook till potatoes are tender, about two hours. My best soups are the ones that I let simmer all day so I usually try to start my cooking in the morning after dropping my oldest off at school.


Final step: just before serving add one cup (ish 😉) cream, milk or even coconut milk to finish off your soup with a creamy smooth flavor. Also add any salt or pepper. I like to serve my soups ready to eat but someone always ends up adding extra salt anyways.

this soup was good from the first bowl right down to the last one that my three year old polished off. The perfect balance between broth and hearty. Perfect for a cold winters night (or lunch).

i hope your family will enjoy this as much as mine did!


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