i am malala

title: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

author: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

genre: Non-fiction, freedom, education, human rights

dates read: September 17th – September 20th

review: 5 out of 5 stars

summary: Malala’s father worked hard to start a private school in their district of Swat in Pakistan.  She grew up believing that all children have the right to an education, so when the Taliban started speaking out and saying the girls should not be going to school, she and her father worked against that belief.  Becoming more and more well known for her outspokenness, Malala was eventually targeted by the Taliban and shot in the face when coming home from school.  In her book she talks about the history of her beloved country and the political strife that has plagued them for too long.

summary: What an inspiration!  Malala is such a brave young woman, someone who is clearly passionate about human rights and isn’t afraid to do what it takes to make changes.  I was amazed by all that she’s done in her short life.  How wonderful to have parents who clearly love and support her; I was touched by the stories of her father’s devotion to her and it’s clear to see the influence of that love, support, and devotion.  Over and over again I was struck by how blessed I am to be free to go where I want and get an education without fear of being oppressed.  It’s sobering to think of how many children around the world don’t have access to the education I took for granted (and often complained about).  Her story is beautiful and tragic, but I think ultimately one of triumph and victory.

favorite quotes:
What are these baubles which tempt me?  Why should I lose my character for a few metal trinkets?” p. 58

“The Quran teaches us sabar – patience – but often it feels like we have forgotten the word and think Islam means women sitting at home in purdah or wearing burqas while men do jihad.” p. 75

“We felt like the Taliban saw us as little dolls to control, telling us what to do and how to dress.  I thought if God wanted us to be like that He wouldn’t have made us all different.” p. 103

“We were learning how to struggle.  And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.” p. 131

“Some people are afraid of ghosts, some of spiders or snakes – in those days we were afraid of our fellow human beings.” p. 139


So here we are, two days into 2012, and I wanted to review my resolution for last year.  I feel very accomplished as these are all the handmade projects I started and finished in 2011.  I had a lot of fun challenging myself, trying new things, learning a lot about myself and the crafting process.   Here’s the list and links:

1. Laptop case

2. Apron

3. Baby blanket

4. Bibs (same as previous link)

5. Zippered clutch

6. Tabard

7. Vest

8. Hairbows

9. Book

10. “New” shoes

11. Travel games

12. Wooden helicopter

13. Garland of stars

14. Candles

let your light shine

I think this will be my last project for 2011 unless I can manage to fit something in in the next two days.  I had a lot of false starts with this one, discovered the challenges in working with wax, both paraffin and soy.  I found that paraffin does not work well in containers and the middle sinks as it cools.  Also, paraffin comes in huge chunks that I had to shave pieces off of while the soy wax already came as flakes.  It was really fun to play around with the colors and scents though.  And I think the recipients enjoy them.

I had a lot of fun with these “hot chocolate” candles which also smelled like chocolate

after it cooled, I painted the container

here’s what I sent my host mother and father in Japan

and the strawberry scented candle for my host mother

Jason enjoyed playing with the rejects


I have a cousin that really likes stars.  And when I saw this, I knew who I would be making them for.

I tried making them out of recycled bags, but the plastic was too slippery.  So I decided to give packing tape a try.  And it worked!  I was able to fold and cut the tape to allow the sticky side to extend out a little bit longer so that it would be secure on the last fold.  And I really liked the garland idea so I thought I could use floss.  Really her gift is tape and floss.  Cheap, easy, and cute!

flying high

This is another Christmas project for my nephew.  Dad helped me cut it out, thank goodness.  It was a pretty easy, quick project, especially when compared to the game project.  I really love woodworking.  I’ll probably try and figure out how to do some woodworking for next year too.  :)

all “hairy”:

after sanding:

after priming:

Yup, pretty excited about it.


I’m in love with glass.  And it doesn’t help that this project requires a lot of it and this was less than $17.  This isn’t even all of it, there are a few more pieces.  Unfortunately I can’t reveal the final product until after Christmas.  It’s pretty cool.

game on

The major project is finally finished!  I’m so excited to share it here.  I got the inspiration for this from this blog and revamped it a lot.  I made a bag and the book that I shared here and I definitely did not spend as little as she did on her version.  I think this is my favorite project of the year.  It took a lot of work and time but it was totally worth it.  I think it’s really fun and I can’t wait to give it to my nieces and nephew.

cookie sheet before:


and after:

Unfortunately I didn’t take a real before shot, before I sanded it down.  It was pretty gnarly looking, let me tell ya.  Now it looks practically brand new!

the fabric before:

and the bag after:



close up zipper:

Jason happened to see this fabric when we were browsing and I thought it was so fun and perfect for travel games.  I wanted to preserve the panel as much as possible and I thought a long time before I actually started working on the project, making sure I was utilizing the piece as much as possible.  I really dig the colors and the whimsical nature of the drawings.  And even though I really hate working with zippers and this one was no different, it came out pretty well.  Fun and functional.

the whole shebang:

Well, except for the book.  But there are seven games, four pens, one spinner, nine dice, and a whole bunch of game pieces (including extras in case any are lost).

close up sorry spinner:

I’m really excited about how this came out.  Dad figure out how to make it look so much like the cards.  I love the vibrant colors on this too.  I had a bit of a difficult time with this sorry board.  I couldn’t really find any good pictures online so I ended up scanning the board we have.  given that the board is larger than a normal scanning area it was hard to make sure all the surface was scanned so that it would line up correctly.  It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close.

the pieces:

I love these containers.  We got them at Michaels and they are so perfect.  They have really strong magnets on the bottom and stack really well.  When placed in the front pocket they make nice weights to keep the flap down.  And there was an extra that we get to keep! :)

Like I said, I loved this project.  There were so many fun and challenging pieces to it and the end result is one I’m proud of.  Technically I could consider this to be six projects in one: the book, the bag, the cookie sheet, the game boards, the spinner, the pieces.  But that would be a lot more posts than I’d want to make.  I’m happy to report that my original new year’s goal is more than complete.  Yay!  And I have at least one more project I’m working on. :)


I got these shoes at the thrift store but I thought the flowers were kind of sad.  So I spruced them up a little.



I might actually work on them a little more, maybe put Velcro on the bottom of the flower and the top of the shoe so that I can change the flowers depending on what outfit I’m wearing.  I really love making those zipper flowers, they’re really easy to make and add a nice touch.

bookin’ it

This is just a part of the major project I’m working on.  This piece alone took at least 8 hours.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.

The cover:

 pages 1 & 2

pages 3 & 4

pages 5 & 6

pages 7 & 8

pages 9 & 10

and the “binding”

After printing and laminating each page, I folded them, stacked them, and used embroidery thread to sew them together.  The first one had a few errors in the formatting but I think the second one came out pretty perfectly.  I can’t wait to have all the pieces done!


Yup.  I really liked this one.  It was super easy and fun.  And I’m hoping a few nieces of mine will enjoy them as well. :)

I’m feeling good about Christmas present production this year.  Almost done with another major project, I’ll share it when I’m finished. :)


The title really has nothing to do with the subject.  Except for one small thing.

Yeah, I made a vest for Jason.  Because I love him.  That material was not easy to work with.  But now I can say I’ve made a vest.  And I hope to never have to do it again.  Just kidding.  Maybe.


A while back, a friend of mine asked me to make him a tabard.  His was fraying and the design was written in Sharpie.  So we went and bought better fabric, and I sewed and embroidered the design.  It was a simple, fun project.  And I got to help out a friend. :)


zippin’ along

I’m sure you know by now how much I love the Sewn by Hand book.  This project also came from it and was really easy to make.  Each one only took a few hours and I really like the finished product.  I have to say that my favorite part are the zipper flowers, they so easy and add a nice flair.


Close-up of the flowers:

 And the lining:

Excuse all the pictures, I just love how all the flowers turned out.  I really want to get zippers with more color but I also like the silver teeth a lot.  Next time I’m at a thrift store I think I’ll see if there are any zippers around.  I need to build up a nice collection, like princesslaserton, but with zippers. :)

oh, baby

So this month I made two things, I guess three if you want to get really technical.  One of the projects came from the Sewn by Hand book and the other came from my brain (I’m having one of those nights, feelin’ kinda loopy).  I’m really happy with how both projects came out and am especially glad I finished them in time as they were gifts to my new niece.  (She is absolutely beautiful and perfect and I can’t wait to get to spend more time with her.)

I’ve always been a knitter, that was the kind of yarn work I decided I was more drawn to.  When I was younger I tried my hand at crochet but I didn’t like it as much.  But I recently was taught by a friend of mine and I thought it would be cool to make a blanket for the new baby.  After several false starts (four to be exact) I finally finished my first crochet project.  It’s still a little lopsided but I don’t think it takes away from the happiness of being able to hand this off to someone I love.

And all stretched out


I’m quite proud of this one, that “K” is handwritten

And here are the hand-sewn projects

And my favorite one

I originally sewed this and the heart on top but like the “cutout” look better



I liked how the white embroidery thread stood out on the back


And I can’t forget the buttons, they were too cute!

I loved working with these fabrics and would love to make more bibs like these.  I really enjoyed diving into the world of hand sewing.  Susan Wasinger makes a great point in her book, how hand sewing is such a contemplative and beautiful art, it’s so quite and it’s so easy to carry with you.  You’re not chained to a desk or table and there’s something so meditative about it.  I loved seeing the finished product of my quiet hands and loved the feel of pulling the thread through the fabric.  It was an almost spiritual experience and I’m so ready to start my next hand sewn project.  Probably using one or all of these fabrics again. ;)


I finished my second project yesterday, and I’m really happy with the end product.  I originally bought two fabrics to make the bib and the skirt but I decided that I just wanted the one fabric for both pieces.  I had a rough idea in my head of what I wanted; I knew I wanted a ruffled bottom, a pocket, and a wide ribbon to tie in the back, other than that I wasn’t sure.  I looked online for some inspiration on bib shapes and in the end went with something simple.

 gathered waist

ruffled bottom


neck loop

And I’m already putting it to good use!

project 1

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to finish at least 6 handmade projects this year.  I think I’m going to try for one a month but I’m not gonna kill myself achieving that goal.  So this month I made a laptop case for my new computer.  I already have a pretty nice black laptop case, but I wanted something bright and cute.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I got my inspiration from Habit of Art.  I obviously didn’t copy her pattern exactly.  I wanted something with a pocket similar to the case I already have so I made it an accordion pocket (which I realize is kind of hard to see in the pictures).  And I wanted straps that would fit comfortably over my shoulder, something my other case does not have.  For the lining I used sew-able interfacing and an old wetsuit that Jason got at an elephant gift exchange.  The pocket is secured with four snaps underneath the buttons (which I’m absolutely in love with as they match the flowers on the straps and they are so fun and colorful).  Now I just need an excuse to use it!