Tag Archives: Hoegarden Weekends

When opportunity knocks…you should like totally make a super-cute tote bag!

JoAnn’s Fabrics is one of my regular haunts. I like to pop in there often to see what I can dig up. I just found out my local JoAnn’s store is moving, and they’re clearing everything out of the old store. Last week, I found upholstery samples on the clearance rack for $1 each. Now you may be thinking, “NanaBread, why on earth do you need upholstery fabric samples, even for $1 each?” Well, I’m proud to say that I was blessed with my mother’s “artsy fartsy” gene, so I’ll tell you exactly what I was thinking:

• Upholstery fabric samples are pre-cut into 18” squares
• All 4 edges of the squares are already finished (serged)
• Upholstery fabrics are usually a heavier grade of fabric
• There are usually multiple samples of the same fabric
• If I can find 2 of the same fabric, I can make a tote bag
• Two squares for each tote bag = $2 per tote bag

With the addition of some woven belting in coordinating colors to use as handles, I was off to the races. I found at least 8 matching pairs of fabric samples, which means I can make 8 tote bags. I picked up another yard of upholstery fabric so I can make a total of 10 bags. I’m planning to give them as gifts for our annual Hoegarden Weekend in March, so I’ll need 10 bags. If you’re not familiar with Hoegarden, it’s our “girls only” family gathering named after a beer and held each March. It’s 3 glorious days of shopping, eating, board games, make-overs, one-handed croquet, chocolate and cocktails. Sorry, mom, sisters, nieces and granddaughters – if you’re reading this, the gift cat’s out of the bag. The tote bag! Get it? Hello? Anybody there? {crickets chirping}. Ahem….so back to the tote bags. Here’s how easy it is to make an upholstery sample tote bag, just in case you find a good clearance sale in your area:

1. Start by ironing your fabric squares
2. Turn the 2 squares with the “good sides” facing each other & pin 3 sides
3. Stitch the 3 pinned sides together; I like to go around twice for extra strength

4. Turn your bag right sides out and press the side seams to flatten them

5. Lay your bag down flat and cut off the top 2” (the unsewn side is at the top)
6. Turn the 2” piece inside out and pin it to the bag so the right sides are facing each other and the cut edges are at the top of the bag; pin them together, matching them at the outside seams
7. Cut the woven belting into two 22” straps and pin them into the edges of the bag for the handles, making sure the handles are between the 2 pieces of fabric
8. Stitch around the entire top of the bag

9. Turn the top edge of the bag out and iron to flatten the seams
10. Turn the edging inside and pin into place

11. Hem the top of the bag to hold the edging and handles in place (I like to use 2 hems, ¼” apart)

12. Fold the bottom corners up 1” and pin them to the sides of the bag, matching the side seams again; stitch the corners in a triangle to create a wider, flatter bottom to your bag; press the entire bag one last time to finish

That’s it! Each bag took approximately 30 minutes to complete. If you have your woven belting pre-cut into 22” straps, your iron on and ready to go, and you’re using the same color thread for each bag, you can do it in 20 minutes. For a bonus, stitch a coordinating colored ribbon to the inside edge of your bag and attach a metal swivel hook to hold your keys. They’re super handy and only $1.50 at Home Depot, which STILL keeps your cost under $5.00 per bag.

To re-cap: that’s 2 upholstery fabric samples for $1 each, woven belting for $1.50, a key hook for $1.50, thread I already had in my sewing room, and 20-30 minutes to stitch up each bag. And just like that, you have a one-of-a-kind heavy-duty super-cute tote bag for only $4 … a tote bag that would easily sell for $20 in stores. Now that’s my kind of crafting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I absolutely love it when I can be creative and cheap at the same time. And I must be on to something, because I’ve laid this out and described the process to at least 5 other women at JoAnn’s since I started this project, and each time I do, they take off running for the upholstery fabric sample racks. Sometimes the best projects just fall into your lap. Like I said, when opportunity knocks…



Filed under Craft Projects

Happy Birthday to My Big Sister

The Birthday Girl

Big Sis is turning ## today. Ha! Bet I made her heart race a little. I would never divulge that she’s pushing hard against a big number and that next year’s party should be a big blow-out with lots of champagne. Besides…age is just a number, even if it starts with a 5 and ends with a 0. Sorry, #1. I couldn’t stop myself. Besides, you’ve got a year to get used to the idea that 50 is the new 20, or purple is the new black, or two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m not sure. Now I’m just confusing myself. Back to my point – happy birthday to my big sister. The one who ate dog food as a toddler. The one who convinced me to eat a mud pie when I was a toddler to make up for it. The one who was forced to share her stuff with me. The one who was my partner in matching outfits for most of our childhood.

Big Sis and Her Posse

The one who let me tag along when she cruised Fort Smith, Arkansas listening to Foghat in high school. The one who’s married to Saint David (love you, dude) with two teenagers at home and a freshman at West Point. The one who inspired our annual girls only Hoegarden weekends and hosts them every spring. Three cheers and a hip-hip hurray on your big day! I hope all your wishes come true. Now try not to burn down the house when you light all those candles.


Filed under Family Stuff

Lemon Drop Shots

This was voted “favorite cocktail” at our annual 2009 Hoegarden gathering. If you love lemon like I love lemon, these will be your new favorite. It’s a citrus explosion in a shot glass. Just be careful – these can pack a powerful punch!

Here’s how to mix up a batch:
3-4 small lemons (some for squeezin’, some for garnish)
One 12-oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate
2 ounces Bacardi Limon (or other lemon rum)
1 ounce Absolut Citron (or other lemon vodka)
1 1/2 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, for the drink mix

2 tablespoons sugar, to rim shot glasses
Lemon slices for garnish
Martini shaker and ice cubes

In a small pitcher, mix the undiluted frozen lemonade concentrate, rum, vodka, the juice from 2 of your lemons (approx. 1.5 ounces) and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Stir until all sugar is disolved. Prep your remaining two lemons by slicing one into thin slices and the other in half. To prepare your shot glasses, grind the rims into one of the lemon halves. Then dip each shot glass into sugar. Put a thin slice of lemon on the edge of the glass for garnish. In your martini shaker (or a quart jar with a lid), add one cup of crushed ice and enough drink mixture to fill the shaker to 2/3 full. Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for 2-3 minutes, or until freezing cold. Pour into shot glasses, being careful to strain out the ice and not ruin your sugar rims. They’re best served immediately while they’re freezing cold. Bottoms up!

This recipe makes approximately one quart of lemon drop mix. Leftover mix can be stored in the freezer in a sealed container, or kept in the fridge until you’re ready for another round. You can also mix up your lemon drops in advance and store it in the freezer. Just allow the mix to thaw until it’s no longer slushy, but still very cold. You can also serve these in martini glasses as Lemon Drop Martinis. Don’t forget to rim your martini glasses with sugar, as well. Remember to drink responsibly and make sure your guests have a designated driver or a bed to sleep in. Cheers, ladies!


Filed under Food & Recipes, Hoegarden Weekends

Extremely Bad Make-Overs

Warning: The photos you are about to view are not pretty. In fact, they’re horrible. Hysterically bad. It was not our intent to do extremely bad make-overs, but it happened, and alcohol may have been a factor.

Our annual Hoegarden weekends are unpredictable. That’s true of most events when my side of the family gets together, but especially when it’s just us girls and the estrogen level spikes. As a reminder, Hoegarden Weekend is our annual “girls only” gathering (see my post entitled “Hoegarden – It’s a Weekend Named for a Beer”). Sometimes we cut up. No, we always cut up. But sometimes we get completely out of control. Such was the case one night in 2007 when we decided to hold a make-over session after a “vote for your favorite cocktail” contest late at night. Sometimes tragedy is all about timing.

First there was Sister #4, who channeled Averil Levigne for her make-over. Not bad. Scary, but not bad. If she’d had a guitar, a plaid mini-skirt and a black t-shirt, she would have nailed it

Sister #4's Averil Levigne Head Shot

Then there was Sister #1, Big Sis, who went for the Cruela DaVille look from the movie 101 Dalmations. She definitely nailed it. If your kids are looking over your shoulder while you read this, I apologize. Please reassure them that no puppies were harmed in the making of this bad make-over.

Sister #1 Channels Cruella DeVille

But it was Sister #5, The Baby, who really cracked me up. She went for the “No Soup for You!” cranky waitress persona that almost made me wet myself.

The Baby Refuses a Customer's Order

She’s famous for that, and she’s usually the first to spontaneously dress up during our Hoegarden weekends. But then we broke out a box of waxed lips from our “childhood favorites” candy stash and a couple of aprons from our “homemade crafts” challenge, and that’s when Flo and Nadine showed up.

Flo & Nadine Are Waiting to Serve You

Sometimes it pays to be the one holding the camera. As the saying goes, there’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy. Flo and Nadine were hideous, but hilarious. Yes, we may be a little nuts around the edges, but no one can dispute that when we all get together, we sure know how to make each other laugh.


Filed under Family Stuff, Hoegarden Weekends

Hoegarden – It’s A “Girls Only” Weekend Named For a Beer

The Hoegarden Crew

I know it sounds weird, but that’s exactly what it is – a weekend retreat named for a beer. Here’s how it all got started. Every year, my large extended family gathers at Thanksgiving. We actually call it Thanxmas, because we celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time. We multi-task so we are free to spend Christmas week with our individual families or in-laws. Anyway, back in 2004, we were all being thankful in Sister #4’s back yard in Garland, Texas with our usual family tradition – one-handed croquet. Leave it to us to make croquet a drinking game, right? Rules require that you must have a drink in one hand at all times, and said drink glass must contain a beverage at all times or penalty shots will be incurred. To make a long story less painful, Big Sister #1 was penalized heavily that night, and her beverage at the time was Hoegaarden Beer. She was new to Hoegaarden, and let’s just say it hit her a little hard. Every time someone sent a croquet ball into vegetation, she would say in a slushy sing-song voice, “Welcome to the Hoegarden!” and giggle profusely.

Shortly after that we decided to hold an annual “girls only” estrogen festival, and Hoegarden emerged as front runner in the naming contest. We dreamed of weekend escapes that would include lots of giggly girly fun and one-handed croquet in a testosterone-free environment. We launched our first Hoegarden Weekend in March 2005, and have kept it going and growing since. Even though we limit it to female family members, that now includes eleven of us from four generations. Because of that, Big Sister #1 hosts each year. For one thing, her house is big enough to hold us all, and she lives near Dallas, which is geographically central for all of us (we’re spread out from Tulsa to Fort Smith to Houston to Austin). Her husband, Saint David, is kind enough to vacate (or escape) with their two sons while we party. We have encouraged the men to retaliate with a “Brogarden” weekend but so far, it’s a no-go.

Hoegarden is filled with food, crafts, spa treatments, food, chocolate, family favorites, more food, some alcohol, funny family photos, board games and food. We choose a different theme each year and plan meals, deocrations and craft ideas around that theme. Our first year was simply “Welcome to the Hoegarden” and we took the garden theme to the max. We each created custom flowered hats and flipflops to wear antique shopping on Saturday.

Hoegarden Hats

Hoegarden Flipflops

We have a lot of fun when we all go out shopping on Saturdays. We’re that large fun group that walks in a pack and can be heard laughing down the block. Larger shops love us. I think smaller antique shops full of old glass get a little nervous. We spend Saturday shopping and eating lunch out, then come home to make family favorites for dinner, share spa treatments and make-overs and play boardgames to disco music until late in the night. I’ll share more photos later from “Extreme Make-Over Night” if I can get signed waivers from the sisters involved (just kidding – about the waivers).

One year’s theme was “HoDown”, which was a hoot. Then there was “Ho Lotta Lovin” around a Valentine’s theme. This year’s theme was “HoDepot” complete with tool belt aprons. We always find a way to tie the theme into our Hoegarden roots. Next year’s theme is island/tropical. We’re calling it “Hawaii Five-Hos” in honor of the five sisters (see my ‘A Tale of Five Sisters’ tab for more). Can’t wait to see what that encompasses. I’m thinking I’ll make my Hanalei Sunrise muffins and work up a good Mai Tai recipe. I’ll also be shopping for luau decorations and some Don Ho music, or maybe soundtracks from “Blue Hawaii” with Elvis (or not). One thing we love in this family is a good creative challenge. I can’t wait to see what the sisters, nieces and grandbabies come up with next! Whatever it is, you can bet it will be tutu fun.

Hoegarden Tutus


Filed under Family Stuff, Hoegarden Weekends