Invited By Lama Works

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Adventures in Spaghetti Sauce ...

Do you have those small things in life that always remind you of your childhood? I definitely do. I don't think I realized how much I missed them all until recently. Now that I'm settling into "normal" life ... post college, post grad school, post wedding simplicity... I'm really appreciating those moments of my youth.

One thing that defined every September of my childhood was canning. My Mom would can everything. One weekend it was peaches, another pears. We'd pick the beans from the garden, slice them through the bean frencher and freeze them. We'd harvest millions of tomatoes and make stewed tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. I really want those things to be passed on to my kids some day too! Those afternoons bonding with mom, squishing peaches out of the skin and mashing tomatoes through the food mill. I want that tradition to keep on living.

So my husband looked at me like I was crazy when I came home from our wonderful farmer's market with 25 lbs of tomatoes yesterday. Today was the test and I think I passed! Check out the pictures below and the recipe passed on from my Mom to me. Thanks Mom!!!

So 6 hours later I have 16 pints of wonderful spaghetti sauce that taste's just like Mom's! My kitchen is a bit of a mess but I think it's worth it. Here's my Mom's recipe to share with you (with a few edits of my own):
10 quarts of tomatoes (about 15 lbs)
4 onions, quartered
10 cloves of garlic
8 bay leaves
7 t salt
36 oz tomato paste
3 T sugar
8 T Little Italy Seasoning (from my favorite local spice shop
3 T garlic salt

Makes about 12 pints

Cut up and seed 10 quarts of tomatoes. Put tomatoes, onions, garlic, and bay leaves in tall pot. Simmer and stir frequently for an hour and a half to 2 hours until thick. Run entire mixture through a food mill into another large pot. Add tomato paste. Simmer for an hour, stir often. Add salt, sugar, and Little Italy Seasoning. Stir and taste. Put in jars up to ½ in from top, wipe, put seal on. Bring water to a boil in the meantime, put jars in and cover 1 in of water, boil for 10 minutes.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008


I had my first sale!!!

I'm a little late in posting it because I've been out of town for it seems like endless weddings and business trips, but I'm happy to report that I made my first sale! I was so surprised to have a custom order for my strawberry hat. She was using it for a photo shoot, and I must say that it looked pretty darn cute (photo courtesy of

I just had my second sale a few days ago too! It seems like the bud vases are the hot item in my store (note to self). They have more hits and people marking it as a favorite than any other item in my store. To date I've had 4 people contact me about orders for their weddings. I'm still working on designs for a few, but I had my first order for 300 vases over the weekend. 300!!! So needless to say, I've officially bought 3 Michael's Craft Stores out of white embossed card stock, but I think they're OK with that :)

Now the work begins!

Until next time this is ...

the girl behind the lama
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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Adventures with buckram

So where did my store start?

It all started with the batik purses. I found this cute purse pattern at the Quilting Connection ( a few months ago and I bought the Sara Satchel pattern. I just love to mix and match fabrics together and what easier way to do that than with batiks?

So to the store I went and I came back with all this material and this stuff called buckram which, by the way, I had never heard of in my life. One weekend later I had my first bag! I didn't like some of the measurements so I decided to kind of make it up as I went along. It did eventually go together and it was a functioning purse. It ended up being about 28" wide by 18" tall and 5 " deep. I had pockets on the inside and outside. Some i used a double layer of interfacing, some none at all. So some pockets were way too stiff, others definitely not stiff enough. It definitely wasn't anything to write home about, but it was cute. This only took the idea of possibly selling the bags and the discovery of etsy for me to start revamping the pattern to something I liked a lot better. Now my bag houses all of my small etsy projects I have for sale.

I'm always thinking about the big picture so I started to figure out how I could maximize my materials for the cost of the bag. First the bag got smaller so that I could use my fabric a bit more economically. A bag that was only 22 inches wide definitely made more sense than one that was 28 inches because now I could cut my pieces out of 1/2 yard of matierial instead of a yard. I also lost a few pockets on this version, they just didn't look right on the outside of the bag. Finally, I shortened the handles because, again, who wants to use two pieces of fabric when you could use just one? Things were starting go come together!

Then came the buckram adventures. I thought it would make much more sense to get the buckram that was 60" wide rather than the 20" because it was again cheaper. Bad idea. For two products that have the same name ... they were very, very different. The orginal 20" buckram that I used was very easy to work with. Stiff, but not too stiff. The 60" stuff was much stiffer, harder to work with and almost had a plastic feel to it. Absolutely horrible to sew with. I broke 4 needles on this stuff! Long story short, I gave up on my "economy" buckram and I ran back to Vogue before they closed to go back to my treasured 20".

In the end I tweaked the sizes to the smaller version and redesigned the pockets so they were more stable and held a cell phone and my new iPod perfectly. I will not be using the 60" buckrum any more. In the end, I think it came out pretty well! To date I have 3 for sale on my site. I think I'll hold off on making any more until a few get purchased, but you can bet I have ideas for other new bags already in the works!!

Finished product!!

Check out all of my bags:

Until next time ... the girl behind the lama
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Welcome to blogging!


So I've never written a blog before.


But here it goes ... I thought this would be a great way to chronicle my new adventure into the crafting world.

I got married to a wonderful man in May (YAY!), and as I'm sure other brides have experienced ... without flowers to pick out, seating arrangements to master and thank you cards to write, I found out how much free time I really had. I've always been a crafter, but until now I've been to busy with the "other stuff" in life to sit down and really get anything done. I took my first sewing class this past winter so my first thought was, "Hey, why not sew something?"

I had this great pattern for a purse that I found months earlier and never got around to. Perfect! I went down to my favorite fabric store (, picked out some batiks in the remnants section and got to work. A few hours later I was happy with the outcome, but already thinking of ways I'd change it for the next one. I went to work the next day and the girls just couldn't believe that I had made the purse myself. One of them jokingly said to me "You should sell those!" I didn't think much of it, but slowly the thought came into my head that maybe I could sell purses. I did need something to keep me busy and out of my husband's way as he finishes law school and studies for the bar. Perfect!

Three more rough drafts of purses with different sizes, pockets and materials and I finally came up with something I considered sellable. I jumped right at it and have officially opened up my online etsy store called Lama Works!!! ( )

My mother-in-law came up with the catchy name. We all looked at her like she was crazy until she pointed out that La are the first two letters in my first name and Ma are the first two initials of my last name. Ahhhhhhh ... I loved it!

Since then I've been playing around with a bunch of different things that I like to make. So far it's a mix of sewing, knitting and hand made cards. This week is my first official day with open doors so I'm really excited to have a grand opening sale and hopefully make my first sale as a new business owner!

I'm going to use this blog to keep you all posted on how I've made products and new ideas that I have for my store. More new projects and store updates to come!

Until next time, this is the girl behind the lama.

ps. Mention my blog in your order for free shipping!
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