Handbag Workshop by Anna M. Mazur – A Book Review

Handbag Workshop

Design and Sew the Perfect Bag
by Anna M. Mazur
Release Date: October 14, 2014

This book instructs the reader on several very varied and pretty purse styles. I learned a lot from the first time I got this book and merely flipped through it. When it comes to sewing, one of my main interest is purses and organizers. This book covers some very fashionable styles that when made with quality materials, look very stylish and fashionable.
Each style is pictured, with step by step instructions on how to construct the purse and get that look. Along the way, instructions on hardware, preparing and applying trim, grommets, snaps, zippers, and anything else that one might need to know in order to make a beautiful, stylish purse.

I don’t recall ever learning so much from a sewing book. The instructions are clear, simple, and easy to understand. I highly recommend this one, not only for those of us interested in making purses and organizers, but also for anyone looking to work with leather- a lot of these skills will translate to leather work and trim skills for costuming and Cos-play.

5 out of 5 stars

Disclosure: I was provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher for purposes of review. My opinions are my own.

Python Battery- The Power to Jumpstart a Vehicle , and Charge Your Phone

As many of you that follow me online know, as an Amazon Top Reviewer, and Amazon Vine reviewer, I constantly review all sorts of items. Every now and then a product comes along that solves a common problem, or just delights me in its form and function, and this is one such item that does both. I simply LOVE it.

When I was offered to receive a Python, to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was intrigued that it would jump-start a car, or charge small personal electronics, but I imagined that it would be some big boxy looking battery. Instead a small black box that fit in my hand that weighed less than 1.25 pounds showed up.

This little device currently costs $89.95 and comes with battery cables, as well as a host of adapters for various small personal electronics. A full set of battery cables will normally cost at least $20, so I think it is an exceptional deal. Here’s what it will do:

  • Jump start a car or truck battery
  • Charge 2 small personal electronics at once
  • Function as a full size flashlight
  • Function as a flashing light
  • Flash an SOS signal

I’ve noticed it charges my Kindles and Android phone about twice as fast as when I plug it into a wall. I love that it is so portable. It gives me a lot of peace of mind as I am a bit paranoid about leaving my lights on when I park in parking decks. It’s small enough to fit in the pocket behind my seat, and not take up a lot of room. I simply love it. I tested it for several weeks, and it never failed or deteriorated in performance, so I wanted to share it with my audience.


Disclosure; I did receive the product free to review, but I’m not being paid for this post. The links, however, are affiliate links.

Creativity and Messiness – On Visiting a Messy, Artistic Household

I would consider everyone in my family to be extremely creative, and we have creative friends that are also artists.  In my family, we all paint, build, write, draw, sew,  ect.  Sometimes we work as a family on projects.

We really NEED a workshop, but haven’t been able to afford that luxury up to this point. We do have one room that is dedicated to sewing. It’s a total mess.

A lot of art projects happen at the kitchen table. Every couple of weeks I clean it off. It will have piles 2 feet high of ‘stuff’ on it. No one likes for it to be touched if there is an active project going on.

It makes me think about messiness and creativity. You see, I don’t know a single creative, artistic person that is not messy, or that minds a mess. I’m sure they do exist, but I don’t know any personally. I noticed this in college too – the art room would be a total mess, and when my family discusses it, all our art teachers’ offices looked like they’d been hit with bombs.

We all agree that we never mind a mess. That in fact, we THRIVE in messiness. Not nastiness, mind you – we don’t like filth, though perhaps stand even that better than some.

Why does our society favor neat, tidy homes, with little clutter? I will admit, they do look nice. But I wonder what they produce. We value our productiveness. How much learning, experimentation, and art really go on in a neat, tidy house?

I wouldn’t know, because I never had one. At one time I hired a team of housekeepers, but we found ourselves feeling like foreigners in our own home, and we were leaving instructions to leave our messes in project areas alone. Every week we gave instructions for more and more areas to be left alone. We soon figured this was not working for us.

There’s actually been several studies that consistently confirm that messy environments foster creativity.

What does this mean? Well, perhaps if you have a very artistic child, it might be worth keeping in mind these tendencies. I know that I CRINGE when I see “CLEAN HOUSE” (the TV show) come in and organize some artists’ materials. Other than that, I love the show, but when I see a messy art room all neat and organized, I think “Why would you DO that to an artist?” To me it’s like cutting the wings off a butterfly. Perhaps you should explore the possibility of ‘clean zones’ and ‘messy zones.’

For instance, my husband’s friend wins awards left and right for sculpture. His wife has thrown him out of the house more or less. He has a workshop, where he tends to stay, working or not. When you visit, he has to clean you off a chair, and you step over things to get to it. It’s not hoarding. If you look closely, you realize the open books on the floor are turned to pages he’s referencing, there are project bases drying or ready for build, a radio he’s been listening to, boxes of paints, or even cleaning supplies that are causing the mess. There are empty shelves all around, but he prefers stuff on the floor and table so he can see them and get to them.

I enjoy being able to go into his workshop- when he complains about the mess, I ask to see his latest projects. I know what wonderful little works of cuteness come out of it. I feel honored –  to see his abode is to see into a very busy, inspired mind.

That’s the way I’d prefer to be treated. When visitors focus on what we’ve been doing, instead of not doing (cleaning) it helps put me at ease, and gives me a chance to shift my mindset from ‘worried about the mess because visitors are here’ to pride and joy in the visit. We’ve designed and built some beautiful large homes. Our home is adorned with original paintings and photographs. We’ve got paper sculptures, costumes, handmade clothes, and little fairy houses being painted and built. The books you see out probably have not been released yet; perhaps pick one up and ask about it.

I would SO rather visitors focus on what we’re making than the big pile of mess.  And please, whatever you do, don’t touch the oil painting on the table. It’s probably wet.


Chip Gilleland “Starry Night Dragon”

Chip Gilleland - Ice Wolves (Shown unfinished)

Chip Gilleland – Ice Wolves (Shown unfinished)


Sage Gilleland – The Gunner (CosPlay, handmade costume)

Connected- by Kristi A. Gilleland

Connected- by Kristi A. Gilleland

Some Humana and Obamacare Plans Let You Save Up to 10% On Healthy Foods at Walmart

This is what the great for you logo looks like at Walmart

If you have Humana health insurance, which is quite common if you have Obamacare, you can be saving up to 10% on some grocery costs by using the Humana Vitality Program. You can sign into your Humana account on the web to join.

We joined the program after we signed up for Humana Silver Level under Obamacare. I answered several questions about my health, my activity level, my weight, height, ect., in order to reach the level required to participate in the program. That gave me a 5% savings level. If I go in for an office visit, and do other activities, I could qualify for a 10% level.

Shortly after I joined, I got key-ring fobs in the mail that I use at Walmart when I buy certain healthy foods. The fob is simply scanned along with my groceries, like most store loyalty cards would work.

Later, I got a green Humana Vitality card in the mail. If you get one of these cards, don’t throw it away! It looks like a ‘blank’ insurance card. Upon careful inspection though, the back says it is a Walmart Gift card. They all come pre-loaded with an initial $5, so you can get started saving right away. Then as you buy groceries, and scan your Humana Vitality membership card, the items that you buy that are qualified as ‘Great For You’ will ‘kickback’ your discount to your gift card after about 7-10 days. So far it’s only good at Walmart.

Each family member can participate, so for us, we can get 3 cards, for a total of $15 in gift cards just for joining.

Here’s the list of qualifying products: http://cdn.corporate.walmart.com/0c/60/34ccc8224755aae3ee8079988791/great-for-you-product-list_129836560166166342.pdf. That’s a PDF you can print out and take with you, if you like.

There’s also a label to look for – it looks like this:
This is what the great for you logo looks like at Walmart

You can see it on the cans and food items themselves, and on shelf tags, like this:

The kickback that you get on your savings can be used for any Walmart merchandise -NOT just groceries. This means that if you are using SNAP, you can actually convert part of your grocery bill to a gift card that can be used for non-food purchases. It’s a reward for buying healthier foods. I notice most of the foods are generics, so they are already fairly low-cost.

There’s also other benefits to the Vitality Program. You can find out more on their website.

Hot In-store Coupon for CVS – $3 off $15


Print a $3 off $15 coupon for CVS. Doesn’t expire until 6-30-2014!

I love shopping at CVS. I buy all kinds of stuff there! I roll over my Extrabucks. I’ve got 10 now, so this will go with that nicely!

Using coupons and rolling over any Extrabucks you earn are great tricks to use when shopping at CVS.