Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Jay and I had a credit card setback this weekend. I spent $51 on fabric at Etsy and Jay bought a $30 blender at Best Buy. The blender was to replace the one that was taken when my mom's ex husband moved out. And the fabric, well, I suppose that was frivolous. My first truly frivolous credit card purchase of the year.
I'm in no way making excuses for my spending, but I want to be honest in saying that this year has been rough for me so far. First there was the dissolution of my mom's marriage, while ultimately a good thing, didn't come without a few bumps in the road, one bump being the fact that there is now one less income being brought into the house. Then the boy broke his arm. (As a side note to this, my son is a walking accident lately. In the space of six weeks he broke his arm, got hit in the face with a rock, and fell into a cactus patch. I'm scared to let him leave the house.) Now my beloved big dog Lulu is dying of cancer and the feeling of not being able to fix it is frustrating and powerfully overwhelming. Our hope is that she dies peacefully and quietly here at home, but if the inevitable doesn't happen soon, other measures will have to be taken. There is a lot of sad waiting going on here. Again, I'm not making excuses for my spending. I'm aware that life is always going to come with its struggles. My life just seems to be a little bit harder than usual lately.
One reason we aren't using credit cards this year is because we want to learn to better enjoy life without spending money. The major reason though, is that our debt was crazy and if we didn't start actively digging ourselves out of the hole, it would have gotten ugly real soon. Despite this weekends setback, we've made headway. We just can't afford anymore setbacks.
While I am an all-or-nothing perfectionist with goals, Jay is more easygoing and realistic. He says I need to quit beating myself up and move on, that I shouldn't be thinking about this nearly as much as I am, and that this weekends shopping was just an itch that needed to be scratched. I agree with him and I know that he's right, my brain just works a little differently I guess.
In other spending news: We still haven't bought any new clothes this year and I am to the point where I literally hate everything in my closet. This weekend I cleaned out my closet and threw away some of the more ragged items. Jay said I should give myself permission to buy a few things. (I think he's just tired of seeing my clothes.) I refuse to though because I think it's a slippery slope. If I justify buying one item, it will be much easier to justify buying more. Then in three weeks I'll get a credit card bill and be depressed. But yeah, totally hating my wardrobe right now.
In conclusion, we've made some progress but I still feel we have a long way to go. I really want to learn to deal with life's problems without going into debt. Any advice, kind words, or your own personal debt stories are appreciated.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Secondly, I hate Joe Scarborough. I don't hate him because he's a Republican. I disagree with most of his opinions, but that alone isn't reason to hate him. No, I hate him because he doesn't care enough about his own show to dress up for it. I rarely see him in a tie. Every day is casual Friday.
Despite the fact that we hate it, we still watch at least part of this show every weekday morning. Probably because the TV is already on that channel from the night before and we're just too lazy to change it. Although, Jay has taken to referring to his morning bathroom routine as "Morning Joe." As in, "If you need me, I'll be in the bathroom taking my Morning Joe." Disgusting, I know. Yet completely appropriate.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I love digging through bags of clothing. Not so much to find things to refresh my wardrobe, although it's always a (rare) treat if I find something cool. No, the best thing about trash clothes is that I don't feel guilty cutting things up, ripping off buttons, and basically harvesting the parts to set aside to one day make something *new.*
Unfortunately, with this particular trash bag the highlight was definitely the anticipation. I was disappointed to find it mostly filled with crap. Moldy, stinky crap. Basically I dug through a bag of wet clothes only to walk away with a few mildly groovy buttons. One garment that did excite me was a woman's hot pink dress. Now I don't normally get excited about hot pink, but I do know a little person in this house who does. Plus, this wasn't just any hot pink dress, it was a hot pink linen dress. Linen excites me. So I washed the dress. Twice. Then I set it aside, all the while wondering what it would become.
Saturday around noon, I cut into the dress. At six that evening, after an afternoon of completely ignoring my family, I had this:The hot pink stripes are from the dress (obviously). The other stripes are leftovers from fabrics I had already bought for other projects.At first, I wasn't thrilled to be adding the cherry fabric on the ends. I had always thought of it as a kitchen-type fabric, but I needed to add some length and it was all I had on hand that would fit the color scheme I was going for. In the end I like the overall look.The binding is patch-worked together from the remaining fabric pieces. I had gotten the idea to do that from a Patchwork Trimmed Baby Blanket that I saw in Weekend Sewing. This is the first time I've put trim on a blanket, and it's by no means perfect. In fact if you look closely, which you guys aren't gonna do, some binding pieces are significantly larger than others. (While this isn't a big deal to me, I am going to try to make it more even all the way around next time.) It's backed with a crisp white sheet that I found on the side of the road in a box of garage sale leftovers. I know I'm becoming more and more of a broken record every time I say this, but it excites me so much to use old things (aka trash) to make something new. Plus, I'm always amazed at how older pieces can quickly look fresh once they're surrounded by a few new pieces. I don't think you can tell that this blanket is mostly made from trash.
I didn't have enough fabric to make it wide enough to be a quilt for the girl's bed, although that didn't stop her from snuggling with it last night. It is big enough for backyard picnics, with or without a chihuahua.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
There is a one flaw in my plan: She's four. She has no desire to eat better. Some days she has no desire to eat at all and would be perfectly happy drinking glass after glass of Ovaltine. Plus, there is no reasoning with her and she doesn't even understand bribes yet. So I have to resort to trickery. Occasionally I sneak veggies into her food but I know this isn't good for building a lifelong love of good stuff. I have to make eating the good stuff fun.
Yesterday I broke the routine and packed her lunch in a picnic basket, grabbed some blankets, and we went out to the backyard.
After awhile she was all talked out and she had eaten her lunch (an organic yogurt tube and a peanut butter sandwich--it was on disgusting cheap white bread, but whatever---I'm choosing my battles at this point.) Almost unbelievably she then laid next to me and rested for a bit. It didn't last long, but the few moments of quiet were nice.
I think I accomplished a lot with this little picnic. The girl ate something moderately healthy and I was reminded that there is nothing wrong with taking a few moments to relax everyday.
Yesterday my friend CT was talking about stopping to notice and enjoy the everyday things we may take for granted. I know I'm guilty of overlooking some of the good in my life. Being a stay at home mom can be a drag a lot of the times but yesterday was fun. What other job allows you to leave work and sit on a Spongebob blanket with your daughter and bunch of Yo Gabba Gabbas?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
*Cadbury Eggs:Easter has come and gone. Cadbury egg season is officially over. These are my last five eggs until next year. I have them hidden so as to not tempt tiny, grubby hands.
There are so many great ideas in these two books(Linen, Wool, Cotton ; Patchwork Style)that I don't know where to begin. I eventually want to make this jumper:I need to lay off the book buying now---the stacks on my nightstand are out of control. Having said that, I'm really excited about Carefree Clothes for Girls, which will be released in October.)
Monday, April 20, 2009
Feeling:: Many emotions. Last week someone broke into a neighbors home, trashing the house and taking things. The most disturbing part of this, is that it seems another neighbor is responsible for the act. Our street feels dark and intense now. Something has definitely changed.
Friday, April 17, 2009
*Last weekend I sent Jay on a mission to find a kiddie pool for the girl to splash around in. He drove all over town and came home with the biggest kiddie pool I had ever seen. The box it came in has a few funny bits on it that I thought I'd share with you:
*In other news related to product packaging, I was reading the back of the Arm & Hammer baking soda box the other day and I noticed at the top it reads, Fresh Box For Baking: Since an open box of Baking Soda naturally absorbs unwanted smells and odors, always use a fresh unopened box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda to make the best tasting cookies and cakes.
What?! I know people use baking soda to keep unwanted odors under control, but it never occurred to me that the same box couldn't be used for baking as well. I buy a box of baking soda every couple of weeks and that box is used for cleaning, baking, to wash my hair with when I'm doing the no shampoo thing, and occasionally I use it to brush my teeth. Sometimes that box sits on my bathroom counter for days and I've never noticed my homemade baked goods tasting like my bathroom.
Frankly, I think this is a conspiracy by Arm & Hammer to get people to buy more baking soda. I've been known to bake three or four times a week. I would soon be devoting a large portion of my grocery budget to baking soda. Then what would I do with all those open boxes only missing one teaspoon? My house would be filled with little orange boxes.
(Also, please no jokes about how boring my life must be if I'm reading the back of the baking soda box and then giving it this much thought.)
*So far this year I've read 20 books. I haven't been documenting it here because a lot of what I've read has been mindless fluff. As always, if interested you can pop over to Goodreads and check out the list.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Ever since first turning on a sewing machine last year, I'd find myself from time to time over at Tiny Happy looking at the shoulder bag tutorial. I wanted to make one so badly, but just wasn't at that stage yet. Until Sunday evening.
The outer part of the bag came from just a small piece of heavy duty cotton (possibly cotton canvas?) that I'd been hoarding, waiting for just the right use. I didn't have enough of it to make the straps so I used some brown corduroy. When I originally received it, I had no idea what I would end up doing with two yards of poo-brown corduroy, but have since found that it's really nice in small doses. (You may remember me using it for these pillows.)
The lining is blue and white seersucker. I initially had about five yards of it, but now only have some large scraps. What that means is that the lining of my purse matches numerous items I've made while learning to sew.....cloth napkins, pillowcases, a few things in my daughter's closet, etc.
Another exciting thing about this bag, is that its bottom corners are "boxed." (I realize this might only be exciting to me.)I've been trying to grasp this whole "boxed corners" thing for a while, but always end up frustrated. Melissa's instructions are so clear and they totally demystified the process for me, I honestly feel like a bit of an ignoramus for not getting it sooner.
The only true error I made was when cutting the corduroy for the straps, I inadvertently made one a wee bit wider than the other. (This is what happens when you cut fabric while watching Family Guy and drinking a second vodka tonic.) It really was no big deal until it came time to sew the two straps together, making one. The area where they met was kinda ugly. To remedy it, I made a strip of fabric from the same material as the bag, and sewed it around the offending area:Here's where I got super lucky. When I put the bag on, that contrasting strip lays right in the middle of my shoulder. So instead of looking like a mistake hider, it just looks like I'm really creative and wanted to add extra interesting details.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross has been mentioned just about everywhere lately. After reading so many rave reviews, I shelled out the $27.50(eek!) for the book, just knowing it would be money well spent. Plus, I like the idea of sewing as a leisurely activity and projects that can be completed in a few days. I get a wee bit giddy at the thought of whipping up a dress for myself in a weekend.
After spending a few weeks looking at it though, I honestly have mixed feelings about the book.
There are quite a few mistakes in the book. The very first pattern, the Everything Tote, calls for 1/2 yard of two different fabrics, when in fact, it should be 1 yard of each. The sizing seems to be off for the Yard-Sale Wrap skirt. I've read of people making this and needing more fabric than the pattern calls for.(info on that can be found here, here, and from a few reviewers of the book on Amazon.) I've also read that at least one of the kids patterns run small as well.
When I sat down to make the Drawstring Travel bag, it was smooth sailing until I got to the final few steps. The drawings clearly show the bag having two sets of drawstrings that you pull to cinch the bag closed, and the written instructions back this up. BUT, the bags pictured in the photos accompanying it have only one side drawstring, either knotted or tied in a bow.So even though I was following the instructions to a tee, my bag looked nothing like the ones pictured.Very frustrating. Fortunately, after a few minutes on the internet I was able to find a bag that looked like mine in the Weekend Sewing Flickr pool and I realized that the problem wasn't with me, but with the photos in the book. (It's worth mentioning that Heather Ross has a whole section of her blog devoted to the errors in the book, which is definitely helpful to read before starting anymore of the books projects. The drawstring bag issue isn't listed as one of the errors, but I'm assuming that's because the instructions themselves aren't incorrect, the problem is with the picture.)
Along that line, the photographs although visually beautiful, aren't very helpful. For instance, the one for the Market-Run Checkbook Cover just shows the closed checkbook with a grocery list and pen. It's really pretty, but I would have liked to have seen a picture of the inside of the checkbook cover. But maybe I'm just used to seeing so many projects done by bloggers on the internet...people more than willing to take half a dozen pictures from every angle.
The final problem I've had with the book is the section, Sewing for Kids. It should be titled Sewing for Babies and Toddlers. There are only two projects that go up to a size 4, both dresses. Even though my daughter is a size 4, I don't want to attempt to make them because of the books sizing issues.
The book is gorgeous. Really, really lovely. Even if I had no interest in sewing, I would want to look at this book.
The visual appeal of it makes it incredibly inspiring. Remember the check book cover I mentioned? That was actually going to be my first project from the book, but after reading the instructions I thought it included some steps I felt as unnecessary. (I admit I can be somewhat of a lazy seamstress. This is a personal problem, not an issue with the book. I'm working on this.) Instead of just giving up though, I created one of my own using the instructions as more of a guide, than an actual step by step pattern. I don't know if I would have been motivated to do that otherwise. (I wish I had a picture of it, but I gave it to my mom as a gift and I'm thinking it would be rude to dig around in her purse looking for it.)
The written instructions are clear and easy to understand. As my sewing gets better and I gain experience, I can see myself making quite a few things from this book. Probably even being able to adjust the pattern sizing to make dresses for my daughter. I think the biggest issue with myself and this book right now, is that because of the errors I know of, I don't fully trust it. Plus, with less than a year of sewing experience under my belt, I don't have the knowledge to work around any serious problems I may run into.
All in all, knowing what I know about it, I would still buy this book. I just would probably wait a bit until I was more skilled. Because right now, it's just an expensive book of pretty pictures.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Something Dawn and I have been doing for a while now is exchanging care packages. Over the course of a few months, we collect various items for the other person to borrow or keep, as the case may be. Then when the box gets full (but not so full that it becomes costly to ship), we pop it in the mail. Yesterday we were able to exchange our packages in person, which we both thought felt a little weird.
Among some of the items in her box to me were:
Awesome beauty cast offs and samples:There is a reason I refer to her as The Beauty Guru.
Dawn was also kind enough to throw in some prunes, because we had a prune discussion a few weeks back. Yep, that's the kind of friendship we have.
Aside from the books and magazines I shared with Dawn, there was also:
I can't believe Dawn is gone already. But I'm excited to read all the vampire books I now have in my possession. Maybe one day soon we'll be able to discuss them in person.
Monday, April 6, 2009
*Last night Jay and I watched Owning Mahony. I adore Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but this movie dragged. Basically, if you want to watch a not-so-lovable loser gamble away millions for an hour and a half, you may enjoy this.
*Yesterday my son had a friend over for most of the day. I'm always amazed by the amount of food two ten year old boys can eat. Truly shocking amounts.
*Also, yesterday I got out the bleach and did some spring cleaning. (Boring topic, I know, but I swear I'm going somewhere with this....) I hate using bleach and I don't buy it often----maybe twice a year. It burns my skin and eyes and I hate the smell. Unfortunately though, sometimes it's the only thing that works to really give parts of the house a deep clean. But of course, being the type of person that I am, just buying bleach makes me feel guilty and conflicted. I know how horrible it is for the environment and probably the health of my family. But sometimes I just really want clean floors! Anyway....I know there are some earthy gals that read this and I would love some feedback on this topic. Do you use bleach? If so, how often? Do you feel the guilt that I described? If you don't use bleach, have you found something that works just as well to clean a really disturbing mess? (I have kids and a lot of animals...so yes...some of the messes around here can only be described as disturbing.)
*My best friend is coming for a visit tomorrow. Although we talk or email almost daily, it's been years since we've actually seen each other. I'm going to make a trifle and we plan to watch Twilight. We are both very excited.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I've tried in the past to find similar style dresses that match this imagery I have in my head, but they're always way out of my price range. (here are some examples--especially this one.)Yeah, I'd have a hard time justifying a $125 dress for myself, let alone a four year old. So for now, the girl is going to have to be content with dresses from Target, etsy, the sales rack at The Gap, and shirts that make Mom's arms look fat.