Anna McClurg

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...”

Christmas Memories

Thursday, December 8, 2016













I haven't been on this space in ages! To be honest, I haven't had the "blogging bug" in awhile. Not quite sure what to write about and just being plain old lazy. I think it's too easy to compare yourself to other massively talented bloggers these days and how it seems everyone else is just so on top of it that I just don't even want to bother. Plus I kind of feel like most people seem to be on Instagram more often anyway. I love a good blog, though, don't get me wrong. I've just been lacking inspiration. If anyone still reads my blog and has any ideas of content you would like me to write more about, please let me know! I think I just need to find my focus and once I do, writing here won't feel so forced.

Lately I've been getting into the Christmas spirit with a little bit of crafting and baking. We had our first big snow yesterday (besides a little one earlier in the season, that quickly melted). I decided it was the perfect day to bake some gingerbread cookies. The intoxicating gingerbread filled the house with memories of Christmases past at my grandparent's house. Do you ever bake certain foods that remind you of some fond memory from your childhood? That gingerbread smell takes me back to the moment we arrived in the small town my mom grew up in. My grandparents lived in an old Victorian house with a working fireplace, the same house my mom grew up in. Grandpa would be tending the fire and Grandma in the kitchen cooking a huge Christmas meal. There would be Wassail in a Crockpot with small glass teacups next to it. Aunts, uncles and cousins milling about drinking their hot wassail or cranberry wine if you were old enough to have alcohol. Usually everyone started arriving around noon on Christmas day. We would eat a big midday meal and after the meal was cleared and the dishes were washed, everyone would gather into the big living room with the fireplace and the grand piano. My aunt Susan would play Christmas carols on the piano and we would all sing along. My aunt Gwen lead everyone to her own version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer complete with hand gestures. That silly song always made me laugh as a little girl. After singing carols, we would pass out Christmas presents and everyone would open them one by one, youngest to oldest. That's correct, we couldn't open any present until it was our turn and then when it was our turn, everyone's eyes were on us and we had just one gift to open. This went on for ages, of course, but it was loads of fun. Then when almost all of the presents had been opened, suddenly there was a knock at the back door. Who could it be?! All of the children ran back and when the door was opened there was a big burlap bag filled with gifts. Santa was here! The gifts in the Santa bag were always so nice. Of course they were from our grandparents, but for those young enough to still believe in Santa, it was pretty exciting. One of my fondest memories was receiving my very first American Girl Doll, Felicity. I was overjoyed! The next year my grandpa actually made furniture for our dolls, exact replicas from the Pleasant Company catalog! I have had some pretty amazing Christmas memories. I loved Christmas at my grandparent's house. We would usually spend the night and sometimes Grandma let us sleep in the living room by the fire. My aunt Sarah would tell us ghost stories to my sister, cousin and I. Falling asleep was easy to do after a long exciting day. As I grow older those memories are some of the things I cherish during the holiday season. I know not everyone has good memories during this time, but it's never too late to make new memories and traditions.

What are some of your holiday memories?


Back to school sale!

Monday, August 22, 2016


I've loaded the shop with lots of goodies and thought it would be fun to start the new school season off with a little sale. Everything is 30% off (orders $100 or more) including custom orders! Use code: ENDOFSUMMER in my Etsy Shop to receive the discount. The sale lasts through August 31st. Let me know if you don't see something in the shop that you would like me to make!

New Sewing Pattern: Lotte Blouse

Wednesday, July 27, 2016




My Lotte Blouse sewing pattern is finally ready! I really wanted to make this one available at a discount, so I decided to try something a bit different for this pattern. Instead of pricing it myself, I'm going to leave that up to you! It's yours for whatever you think the pattern is worth or whatever you can afford. When you click on the button for purchase, you will be redirected to the payment form where you will simply fill in the blank yourself. Easy! :)

I really enjoyed making this pattern. It's quick and fairly straight forward, so a beginner/intermediate sewer should find it a simple one to sew up in an afternoon. I've been getting lots of wear out of the blouses I've made and already have plans for some other variations for this blouse. I keep seeing these off-the-shoulder style blouses pop up all over the place and I think they are so easy to make. There's no need to buy one already made if you can sew!

If you are interested in sharing photos of your creations using my patterns, I would love to invite you to join my Flickr sewing group and post pictures! I am working on more sewing patterns and hope to have them added to my collection in the coming months!

If you would like to receive emails when I come out with new sewing patterns or clothing collections, feel free to join my mailing list for updates!



Today is my five year wedding anniversary!

Saturday, June 18, 2016





It's hard to believe it has been five years already! Being together hasn't always been easy, especially at the beginning of our relationship, but we have stayed together through thick and thin. We've learned so much and we've changed too! I love that we are slightly different people than the people we were seven years ago when we met. I think it's inevitable that people change and grow as they age. I'm grateful Jed and I have changed together. Jed makes me a better version of myself, he pushes me sometimes when I don't push myself. I'd like to think I help him become a better person as well! (Jed will tell you if this is true or not.) :) I really believe we are better people because we have each other. I love this man with all my heart and soul. I thank my lucky stars we found each other! Here's to another 5 years and beyond, Baby! XOXO

A summer trend: off the shoulder

Monday, May 23, 2016







I've been seeing a lot of off-the-shoulder tops and dresses lately and I have to say I'm really loving this trend! I love wearing tops with a wide neckline or ones where the neckline dips lower in the back. I find them super flattering on. So the other day I decided to draft my own blouse and see how I like it. I think I want to make a few tweaks to the pattern, perhaps make one that isn't so "blousy," and one that buttons up the front as well. But I think this top will be really nice and cool to wear in the summer. Let me know if anyone would be interested in a pattern like this. I might throw it together as a quick PDF download (although I do have another top pattern in the works that is just about ready)! xo

A New Dress Inspired by The Moon-Spinners

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I just finished this dress for a client who also shares a love for the 1964 Disney film The Moon-Spinners. She asked if I could make my Bachelor's Button dress with green fabric and a white collar/buttons. Custom orders like this dress are my favorite to make! I was so happy when I found the perfect green linen fabric in a similar shade as the dress Hayley Mills wears in the movie. I made the collar with white handkerchief linen and covered the buttons in the same fabric. I think it turned out rather nice and now I want a dress like it for myself! If you are interested in a dress like this one or you would like to talk to me about a custom order, please feel free to drop me a line! I love working with clients on custom orders. They usually turn out to be the most rewarding projects to make!



{And just for fun... click here to listen to "Nicola" from The Moon-Spinners soundtrack!}

Lighter Morning Glory Muffins

Monday, May 9, 2016


Here is a recipe I recently made that I thought I would share with you. The original muffin recipe is already pretty healthy, however I really wanted to experiment a bit more with it (mostly cutting down the sugar and swapping out the oil for applesauce). They aren't quite as sweet, but they are very hearty muffins and I think they turned out quite nice. A cup of hot coffee, a spread of butter and I'm set for the day! I hope you like these muffins as much as I do. Let me know if you make them and what you think!

LIGHTER MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart


Makes: 12-16 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1/3 cup raisins 
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/3 cup skim milk 
  • 4 medium carrots, shredded 
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon espresso coffee, cooled (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°F
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  1. If adding the coffee, brew now and let cool. I use my 1-cup Moka Express to brew my espresso.
  2. Mash banana on a flat plate using a fork, shred carrots and set both aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir in oats and raisins. Add in your applesauce, egg, milk, shredded carrots, mashed banana and espresso (not sure if it makes a huge change to the taste, but I kind of like the addition of strong coffee in my muffins). Stir until everything is blended. 
  4. Evenly distribute batter to all 12 muffin cups (I actually tend to use more like 16 cups, but this makes a slightly smaller muffin). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Because I live at a higher altitude, I find things bake faster here (or maybe it's just my oven), so I usually check a little earlier than the recipe states. 

NUTRITION
Per muffin (12 muffins)

Book Review: The Better Homes & Gardens Diet Book 1955

Friday, May 6, 2016

I recently acquired a vintage book about dieting and I was skeptical about it at first, thinking it may be totally outdated but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was really full of some wonderful advice! In fact, it's probably one of the most delightful dieting books I've ever read! But then I'm always drawn to fun vintage things like this, so perhaps it's not everyone's cup of tea. For me, though, it was a delightful read. It's called "Better Homes and Gardens Diet Book" printed in 1955. I got mine from Amazon, but you may be able to find it at a used bookstore or a thrift store. It was pretty inexpensive and after seeing pictures of some of the illustrations, I really wanted to read it!
I don't talk about diets or dieting very often on here, but believe me I've been through my fair share (although perhaps not as many as some)! These days it seems most popular to be gluten free (been there, done that, not for me) or grain free, eating "clean," etc. But I think what most of these diets fail to point out is that although it's good to eat healthily, you still can put on weight if you are eating more than your body needs.
I think many times we wonder why the scale continues to creep upwards when we eat healthy and keep an active lifestyle. I know for me, it was eye opening when I started tracking my food. I'm not overweight by today's standards, but pounds were starting to add on one by one. I keep an active lifestyle these days, rock climbing three times a week, and sometimes hiking on the weekends. But my weight hasn't been affected much at all by this extra activity. I think it's easy to think if you exercise then you can be lazy about how much you eat. Unfortunately it doesn't work quite like that! Here's a good explanation about why exercise should be secondary to diet.
The Better Homes and Garden Diet Book actually covers more than just dieting and how to lose weight. Here are a few of the chapters in the book: "For safe and sure reducing," "Why proteins are important," "Better Homes & Gardens meal plans" (I think this one is the most dated), "When you're away from home plate," "Dieting family style," "What minerals do for you," "Don't overlook calories in alcohol," "All about vitamins" (I always find this topic interesting), "Cut calories, but enjoy variety" and more! The delightful illustrations scattered throughout the book I found particularly amusing!
I really think calorie counting is underrated these days. I know it's kind of "old fashioned" and some people can take it too the extreme. But for many, it works really well. It's basically just like keeping track of your finances. You won't have to guess about how much you need to eat and how to lose a few extra pounds (or a lot of pounds) if you closely track your calorie "income." 
Some of the meal plans in the Better Homes and Garden Diet Book are definitely dated. Some of them aren't too bad, though, to be honest! They have three meal plans from 1,000 calories, 1,250 calories and 1,500 calories. They also divide the plans by season. It was stated in the book that these plans were put together to reflect a normal diet for most people, but of course times have changed and we don't eat quite this way anymore. So if you are planning to put together a meal plan for yourself, it's probably best to not stray too far from your usual diet, making sure you are keeping within your calorie limits of course. However, you may find you can eat more (within your calorie "budget") and are satisfied for longer if you add more vegetables and whole grains into your diet, if you aren't already eating them.


The book also discusses how many calories you need to eat and how many you would need to cut in order to "reduce." They suggest you start by tracking all the food you eat for a day to get an idea of how much you are eating and mark everything in their handy "Daily diet-diary." They also talk about how to diet while eating with others who aren't dieting. They touch on teenagers and safe ways of losing excess weight and when it might not be a good idea to lose weight. They also talk about how to go about gaining for people under weight.

The thing I love about this book is that they advocate a lifestyle change. Not just a short term diet and then right back to how you were eating before. It's about small changes that make up the big picture. If you torture yourself by reducing your calories so low, you may not stick to your plan and just give up. Here's an excerpt from the book that I liked:

How long can you stay on a diet?

You may notice that the Better Homes & Gardens reducing diets are not billed as a Five Day, or Ten Day, or Fourteen Day diets. The reason is that you can, and should stay on them as long as excess fat is present. Not a day longer! When you have attained normal weight, you no longer have any useless surplus fat to make up for calories that reducing diets are deliberately designed not to provide....Another reason why no specific time limit is placed on the diets is that reducers who slim down on short-term diets are prone to feel that the battle of overweight is won, once and for all. It never is, or hardly ever. Fat will come right back again if eating is unrestrained and daily meals pile up a calorie surplus. Permanent weight control depends upon re-educating one's appetite and eating habits. Foods provided in the Better Homes & Gardens meal plans are those common to average American diets. That way the transition to higher calorie diets, after weight is reduced, will be easy and natural. Diets containing exotic "health foods" or strange and unusual things to eat are all too likely to make the reducer feel that there is some wonderful short-term magic in them. There is no such magic, and the road to lifetime weight control lies in intelligent eating of wide variety of common and delicious foods of the familiar kinds provided by the following meals. Incidentally, when you're eating the foods in these meal plans, enjoy every morsel of them. Don't believe for a minute that you ought to feel guilty because you aren't suffering, or because your taste buds are telling you, "This is delicious!" 


The book includes a list in the back with all of the food calories, but these days it's easy to track your calorie intake with phone apps like Lose It! (my fave) or My Fitness Pal. And there are lots of support groups for those who need some inspiration. I talk about this subject of dieting a lot with my mom because it's something she has struggled with most of her adult life. It's one way we bond, because we both love talking about it and I think it's good to have someone to talk to when you are struggling with your weight. Not everyone wants to hear about your eating habits! Excess weight can be a real struggle for many people and for some reason I find health and diet really interesting. I have a few pounds to lose at the moment, not a lot, but a little bit and I prefer counting calories. Although it takes a bit of effort at first (maybe because I make most of the food I eat and recipes never show calories!), but it has gotten so much easier. I like it because I don't have to guess anymore about whether or not I'm eating too much of something. If you are counting everything and you know how much food you need to eat, if you stick with it for long enough, eventually you will see weight come off. For those of us who only have a few pounds to lose, it can take a bit longer to see it come off. But it's about making healthy changes for the long haul! I've been counting calories for about three weeks now and while I haven't seen any drastic changes on the scale, I have definitely been more aware of what kinds of foods I am putting in my mouth. I still have something sweet every day (I have a massive sweet tooth!), but now I also eat LOADS of vegetables. I never used to eat this many! I am also finding new ways to make recipes so they are healthier. I have two great muffin recipes that I'm planning to share on the blog soon. Maybe I'm just getting used to eating better, but I kind of amazed myself that they actually taste rather nice, even after making them lower in calories. They are also much more satisfying. Those recipes are coming soon! I also want to share some other meal recipes people were asking about. Stay tuned if you are interested!

If you are trying to lose weight, the biggest thing that will make the most difference is doing something you can stick with for the long run. There's no use getting a gym membership only to discover you never actually use it. Make a change you know you can stick to, even just a little change like dedicating two nights a week for a walk around your neighborhood. If you aren't interested in counting calories, cutting portions by a little or just being more mindful of what you are eating can help.

Well, it's Friday and it's such a gorgeous day! I'm going to spend the rest of my day sewing up a dress inspired by The Moon Spinners (sewing pictures coming soon) and then maybe a bit of time outdoors while it still smells of apple blossoms! I hope you all have a lovely weekend! xx