Top Social

The Secret Zoo of Rare Animals

April 21, 2016

Last weekend, we discovered a secret little gem hidden at the base of the mountains in the little village of Ebbs.  Not far from Kufstein, the Raritäten Zoo was not easy to find.  After asking a few locals, we found a small parking lot in a field.  A long, paved pathway led from the parking lot into an oasis of trees.

As we entered the wooded area, the path opened up and we came upon the entrance.

The day was beautiful and surprisingly, the zoo was not very crowded.  We came across this little guy who was just lounging the day away in the sun.  What we first noticed about the zoo was how well-kept it looked.  Each animal exhibit had their own little 'cabin' and their surroundings were clean and tidy.  Each animal had a full platter of food... and there were fresh water streams running throughout the landscape.  There was not a single 'animal smell'... as there tends to be in any type of animal enclosure!

I'm feeling Karl Lagerfeld here!

The animals seemed social with each other.  This peacock was visiting the turtles. 


This rooster was keeping an eye out for El.

And, while I only have a photo of this lonely lemur, he was later joined by his pack and they jumped from exhibit to exhibit... at one point, annoying the birds in another cage.

The goats were quite curious of us... or maybe it was the food in the bag!


Lil and this little monkey, a Barbary macaques, were definitely having a moment.  Look at the intense gaze!  There were so many of the macaques in a very large enclosure.  There were big ones and little ones - all running and chasing each other!  They are particularly partial to peanuts!

These two owls were beautiful.  Huge. Majestic.  Side by side they sat and watched us with great interest... oh, wait... they were staring at our dog, Coco.  It was very cool that leashed dogs are welcome... but not so cool to some of the birds... or the lemurs... 


There was a pair of black swans that came to say hello.  What beautiful birds.


These storks finally started building their first nests after arriving to this zoo.  


A few flamigos strayed from the pack and were headed back to join the other thirty or more flamingos.


There was also an Austrialian compound... there were these cute little maras.  And, because my camera phone is behaving wonky these days, I didn't get good pics of the pairs of kangaroos and albino kangaroos.  White kangaroos?!


On the way out, we had a brief pop quiz about all of the animals we saw that day.  The animals are very busy in the zoo... lots of notable events!


Walking back to the car, there was definitely a lot of talk about all the animals we saw... 

And, a corner shot of the mountain ranges that surround this field.  It's quite serene here.  You'd never know there was a large zoo in the area!

We are definitely going back... Check it out if you're ever in the area.  Dogs on a leash are welcome... there are many interesting animals to see... the landscape is beautiful... AND there's ice cream!

Raritätenzoo Ebbs
Kruckweg 20
A-6341 Ebbs bei Kufstein, Österreich
Tel.: +43/(0)664/4553630

Pattern Weight Bon Bons

April 15, 2016

I recently came across a neglected box of casino chips... casino chips!?  I know, right?  Long gone are the days of visiting a casino... no, really... I only went once or twice in my life.  These chips are a relic from an old project when we lived in Manhattan... honest!

El & Lil seem to have no interest in using these as play money... so... guess I have to come up with a fun project!

I liked the weight of these chips... they feel nice in the hand.  Hmm, this weight would be perfect for pattern weights!!!  There are tons of projects out there for DIY pattern weights on Pinterest.

People like using heavy metal washers... or they make little bean bags... or anything that's heavy to keep their pattern pieces from flying away.  I like how the finished product reminds me of little pastries! 

(Credit:Sew Fearless)
Back to my casino chips!  First things first, I used some duct tape to to keep them all together.  Then, I placed the chip in the center of some card stock and measured the distance A (the total height of the stack) all around... this will become the 'wall' of the pattern weight.  Next, I cut out the circle of card stock.

I cut a circular piece of fabric with an additional 3/8 inch border.  I used this border to fold over the circular disk while I sent a running stitch all around the circumference.  (Don't forget to knot the end or you'll be running around in circles!)

When finished, I pulled out the inner card stock pattern and put in my bundled set of casino chips and a layer of batting between it and the fabric interior.  I'm going to need this fluffy cushion when finished to stick a few pins in.

Now that the chips and the batting are in place, I pulled the thread as tight as I could (without popping the thread!) and did a few reverse stitches and knotted the end to finish.

Next up: The Bottom.

For the bottom, I cut a circular disk out of the same card stock and a piece of batting in the exact size of the casino chip.

Then, I cut out a circular piece of fabric that had an additional 3/8 inch allowance.  I repeated the same running stitch all around, pulled the thread tightly (making sure the circular pattern and the batting are snug in place), and reverse stitched and knotted the thread.

Once finished, I placed the two pieces together and used a ladder stitch to close.

Et voila!  Pattern weights that look like little bon bons or macarons... I'm feel like I'm channeling Alice in Wonderland!  These little guys look good enough to eat!

Finished!  These little guys are all ready to be a sweet (and practical!) gift for our favorite sewing maestro!


Sabato Tote

April 13, 2016

Ahh, Spring is finally here.  The buds are blooming, the sun lingers longer, my motivational reserves are filling up!  Sometimes, on a beautiful day, inspiration strikes and we are like two peas in a pod!

Back in March,  I was looking at one of my favorite bags - the extra slouchy, extra large schlepping tote you see below from PINK.  While I have a respect for a good structured bag, a roomy and soft tote like this one just warms my heart!  

I imagine it being dragged along to the seaside... it being filled with towels, bathing suits, and magazines... and when it is all stuffed to the gills in all of my favorite squishy things, it doubles as a pillow on those long rides home from the beach!

Or, maybe, it is filled with laundry... and is being used by a busy university student?  Who knows!?  What you can do with such a tote is just endless!

Unfortunately, these days I am not near a beach... and so this tote holds a ton of fabrics for a project that I am working on.  It has a simple shape... little self ties to keep all of the stuff inside... and the material is the softest cotton.  I'm amazed such a thin material can have the strength to hold a load of laundry!

Well, now that you know what sparked this journey... I had to make a few adjustments.  While I wasn't going to the beach any time soon... nor do I have to walk a mile to the nearest laundry mat... I do, in fact, always need a good, roomy tote for those trips to the market... or when I go pick up the girls and they no longer want to carry their own jackets...

So, I made the bag slightly smaller... into a more reasonable weekender/shopper tote size.

I moved the ties to the sides.  I wanted the ties to be more prominent on this tote... so, I tied them to the front and made them quite a bit longer.  Happy with the shape and size, I disassembled the muslin sample... and after a bit of pressing, my patterns were ready.

Lookie!  A bit of post inspiration boost:

Go Akris!

Now, originally I wanted to make the entire bag out of one material.  I picked up a beautiful bluey/denimy Italian linen from Das Blaue Tuch in Munich (Hi, Katja!).

[Credit: Das Blaue Tuch]

Beautiful shop with beautiful fabrics.  I would know, El & Lil have a closet full of clothes made of fabrics from this shop (Thank you, Phia!!).

The heavy 18 oz navy canvas twill was from my own stash from NYC... and the bling was crystal mesh from Swarovski. 

It was only after I found my stash that I decided to use it as the exterior bottom trim and as complete interior liner and pocket for the tote.  Notice, the tote has started to evolve into its own look.  It's no longer big and super slouchy (as it would have been if I used only the Italian linen)... the heavy canvas lining gives it a bit more structure (from the inside out!).  

I put in several layers of heavy filler to keep the bottom from giving way (just say no, to droopy bottom bags!).

Originally, I thought of maybe color blocking the tabs with some bright color fabric... but for the Italian linen and the heavy canvas... that just wasn't enough.  

Enter, the Swarovski bling... I hot pressed the mesh strips to a suede like material... then turned and glued those strips to the bag straps... the crystals are folded onto both sides of the tab.  The effect?  Solid weight end tabs that feel like crystal bars on the tie ends... definitely dresses the bag up a notch!

The interior pocket - the universe KNOWS that if you have a big, oversized bag, you need a big roomy interior pocket for the most important items you don't want to have to dig around for at the bottom of the bag!

The little seahorse label is the label I've been using on all the things I've made... name is still TBD.

And so, voila!  A big, extra roomy summer, Saturday tote... one to be taken anywhere and everywhere.  (Secret P.S.:  Happy Birthday, Phia!)