Friends & Family: Tia Martha, A Can-Do Inspiration

Para la version en español de este blog, haz clic aquí.

20170505_033909000_iOSFor this installment of Friends & Family, I’m going to get really personal and sappy, so buckle up for an emotional ride. This family member unfortunately lost her battle to cancer almost three years ago, so it’s a little hard to look at this stuff without getting sad, but mi Tia Martha deserves this, and so much more.

My tia Martha (I can’t come to terms with calling her aunt, it just doesn’t feel the same) was an admirable warrior of a human who was unstoppable in her quest to make her family thrive. There was no challenge too big for her, and she did everything with the most beautiful smile I can still see to this day. I absolutely loved my tia and out of all the aunts I have, she was the one I was closest to, and I remember her saying she saw a lot of herself in me so I think that’s partly why this means so much to me.

Within all her admirable qualities, my tia was an AMAZING cook, an extremely talented seamstress, and quite honestly a jack of all trades in the crafting department. She was super creative and made things that were useful and beautiful, and she made it all look so easy. She was one of those people who could help in every single area of set-up and breakdown for a party, and I can only imagine how many events she had her hand in throughout her life. I remember her blowing up balloons, baking hors d’oeuvres, passing out the cotillion/favors – all in the most selfless way. I don’t think she ever even craved a thank you. She was just happy to be there doing her part.

Out of all the amazing things my tia would do, I think the one I saw her do the most was sewing. Back when I lived in Venezuela, she would come visit us from Colombia and I swear from the moment she arrived until she left, that sewing machine was going. My mom had bought it, but I think my tia was the only one who ever touched it. I now see this is how my tia started guiding my creative side to go in a streamlined direction. I’d always liked coloring and building paper models or mice out of toilet paper rolls, but while my crafts were just for fun and games, my tia’s stuff had a purpose. She taught me how to use the sewing machine and even though to this day I have trouble hooking the bottom bobbin, I’ve been able to do quite a few projects with it thanks to her.

The first thing I’d like to highlight – and possibly the coolest – is this towel bag my tia “invented.” I’ve only just now seen a lot of different versions of this, but the first time I ever saw it was when my tia made them. They were a total hit and she made dozens of them, everyone wanted one. Since she lived in Santa Marta, which is a beach town in the coast of Colombia, these were super useful for everyone, because it’s a towel that wraps into its own bag, so you don’t have to stuff it into another bag where it won’t fit or carry it on your hand. It was genius. Still is.

The other great thing about my tia is that anyone would come to her with an existing product, and she’d have no problem replicating it almost identically. This is something I now realize I do as well, and I think I got a lot of my confidence from seeing her do it so seamlessly. For example:

  • This head towel – I think my mom asked her if she could make more like it, and she did, but with a few modifications at my mom’s request
  • This doll party favor – as you know, party favors are expensive. So in order to save money for this party, my tia decided to make a different version of these cute hanging dolls she saw:

I also remember, my mom was a big user of shower caps but she always lost them, so one time my tia cut up a poncho and bought some elastic and bam! Extra shower caps for everyone. I wish I had a picture of those, but none I could find. All I remember is they were bright yellow and I was impressed how quickly she came up with the idea and made them.

As I mentioned earlier, my tia was a very talented seamstress and the best show of that, of course, is clothing. She could mend and make pretty much anything, and she did. Here are some of the stuff we have record of her making:

Trust me when I say that this is just a sample of the many, many things my tia created. Unfortunately, back when she was in the height of her making phone cameras weren’t a thing yet, and we didn’t feel that urgency/ease to document everything. But I hope these were enough of an insight for you to imagine all the beautiful things my tia’s hands were able to produce. My tia had such a huge talent, I’m lucky to have been able to see her do it and to have learned from her. One of the last times I spoke to her before she passed, I was able to thank her for teaching me all she did and I told her I put an M on my sewing machine in her honor, and she laughed, as always.

Tia, I miss you more than words can express, and I am so grateful that among my crafty and talented Friends & Family, I always counted on you for inspiration, knowledge, and most of all your can-do attitude and smile.

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Halloween 2014 – On a SERIOUS budget!

After my 25th birthday party, I decided to make my credit card take a sabbatical, because with December holidays so close by, I was sure the magnetic band would fall off at some point.

The thing is, Halloween was the following week, and my friends and I had spoken about throwing a party at one of our houses, and since I hadn’t done anything for Halloween for the past three years, I really had to make it happen this time around. On the other hand, my brother told me he wanted to dress my nephew up as Bam Bam because at his endearing 10 months, all he does is hit stuff. I looked up Bam Bam costumes online, but I wasn’t a huge fan of any of them. Naturally, I decided to make it myself! Both costumes came out great, and all for under $20!

My costume: Black Widow (Avenger) – $0

BW Look WCB
We had agreed on doing a Superhero theme for the group, and from the get-go I decided to don the Black Widow attire for the night, partly because I was pretty sure I could pull it off without spending a single dollar. I wore black leggings, a black leather jacket, black booties (all staple items in any woman’s closet), and I gave my hair a serious curling to replicate her hair style in Iron Man 2 – but what really pulled it all together was the pose!

There’s a still of Scarlett Johanson mid-fight scene where she’s stretched out for a second before her next move, and I knew I had to replicate it to validate me as Natasha Romanoff for the night.

BW Pose WCB

My nephew’s costume: Bam Bam – $18.11

Since I’m not a full blown seamstress and I was making this costume without having his exact measurements, I decided to buy some sort of pants/shorts that I could cover in orange felt. My brother wanted him to wear a shirt even though Bam Bam doesn’t have a top in the cartoon, so we figured a tan or brown shirt would be the best option. I went to Walmart and I bought:

  • Bam Bam Making Of WCBOrange felt – for the shorts – $0.23 per sheet, used 3
  • Black felt – for the triangles in the skirt and hat – $0.23 per sheet, used 1
  • White felt – for the hair and bone holding his sash – $0.23 per sheet, used 1
  • Brown sweatpants – for the undergarment – $3.99
  • Brown shirt – I cut off the sleeves so it would be a little more rustic – $3.99
  • Orange beanie hat – $3.99
  • Tan infinity scarf – it caught my eye as a potential sash and it worked out great – $4.99

David Bam Bam WCB

I cut off the pants’ bottoms, sewed the orange felt around the waist line, cut off black triangles of felt and hot glued them to the bottoms, cut off the shirt’s sleeves, and glued little black triangles to the hat. I also used two cotton balls for the top of the hat, and I cut off two bone shapes from the white felt and filled it with some more cotton balls to make it look like a fuller bone. I glued the bone to the scarf, and voila!

The costume was a total success. The fabric was fresh and stretchy enough for my nephew to play around in, and everyone was happy. And now, for the cutest Bam Bam in history (who couldn’t keep his hat on straight… but who can resist that smile?!) Ta-da!

To close off, I had recently taken advantage of a JoAnn cardstock paper sale (5 for $1.00), so I had pretty much every color in stock. I used these to make some quick superhero themed photo booth props for the party. POW!

Super Props WCB

Two costumes + photo booth props, less than $20! Halloween 2014 on a SERIOUS budget = success!