Saturday, December 8, 2007

checking in

For the past four or five days, we've been without internet at home. I was feeling cut off (still do, really) from work, blogs, free information, but realized how much time I have for other things when the internet isn't calling my name. So it looks like it's time for a break. I'll probably roll up to Dunkin' Donuts and use their wi-fi to check email and my etsy shop, and probably read some blogs, but with the next few weeks off from work, I really want to be off, in every way. Time to do all those things I've been too busy to do: play with my camera, do some real housecleaning (not exactly fun, but so satisfying), hang out outside with the pup, make lunch for myself (well, something other than frozen pizza), have lunch with friends, and whatever else I feel like doing! Have a restful and peaceful holiday time. See you soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

shop just•like•sew

My shop has now been stocked with pocket bags, heavy duty canvas shopping bags, stockings, ornaments, and more.

Because I appreciate the support of anyone who will give a new etsy seller a chance, I'm including a small gift with each purchase of 2 or more items--a lavender-filled 'scrap sachet', like the one above.

I hope you all had a great weekend. Now that the etsy project is under control, I hope to be back to more creative blogging soon. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

puppy patchwork

I bought this happy hounds fabric many months ago knowing I wanted to recover Kobe's bed. I have been on this grey kick for a while now, and I love it paired with a little purple/periwinkle. The fabrics in our bedroom are a greyish purple, so now his bed will match the decor instead of matching him, something I'm not quite sure about. Matching things to your animal is highly underrated. We used to have a car with a black interior that would get covered in white dog hair, even when he hadn't ridden in the car! Our beige sofa (where he rubs to slick his hair after walks) couldn't camouflage the fur better.

And because I love reading bloggers' 'random things' memes--they're so revealing and endearing--I thought I'd share a bit.
  • I miss Japan so much that I try to think of trips we can take to places with large Japanese populations. So far: Brazil, Pacific NW, Chicago again.
  • Speaking of traveling, I love planning and researching before a trip, but it also stresses me out unbelievably. In fact, one of our best trips--to Costa Rica--was totally unplanned. Hmm.
  • I'm speaking Spanish at work these days. Not when I'm teaching English of course, but with the office staff. I'm really concerned about my grammar, even though I know this inhibition doesn't help my progress.

And the shop update was a little too ambitious--cloudy weather + dead camera battery = no photos. Let's shoot for Monday, OK?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

carefree + a deadline

Thanksgiving Day 2007

What a restful weekend. Or double weekend really, now that I've been off for 4 days straight. I'm trying not to be too lazy--breaking up the napping with sewing and taking walks:)

It's been nice lately to be able to walk away from sewing when I'm ready to take a break. I got so much done for the craft fair, but now it's nice to work at a more relaxed pace. A new dog bed is in progress, and may be in progress for a while at this speed! I wanted to make it for Kobe's birthday last week, but that didn't happen. But dogs are pretty forgiving.

So with the lack of a deadline, the whole etsy update just isn't happening. I've worked on it, but maybe I'm being too much of a perfectionist. I want to re-take some of the photos. I'm enjoying my new camera, but also finding out that it won't make me a better photographer instantly. There's a lot of learning to do. So, since I need some motivation to get the shop going, I'm officially announcing a [tentative] shop opening, with many more items, on Weds, Nov 28. I'm planning some freebies to make it fun, so come take a look!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

pocket bag and some links

Thank you all for your supportive comments on what I'm selling. I do have plenty of 'inventory' left, so I'm slowly-but-surely stocking my etsy shop. It's a bit tedious, isn't it?

One of the items that I've been working on, and that will be in the shop, is my pocket shopping bag. These cotton sacks fold into their own interior pocket so they can be stashed in your purse. I always get into Target and realize my cloth bags are in the car, so I made a small one that will permanently stay with me. I'll do my best to add more items to the shop over the long weekend, so stop by!

As I mentioned in my last post, the best part of the fair was talking to other crafters, and buying from them, too! Since it was in Savannah, quite a few of the crafters seemed to be students or graduates of SCAD. Being alongside these creative people made me feel like I'd found my place again in the world of art. Art was my life in high school, but for some reason (a rush to finish college?), I pretty much abandoned it after that. I've done a bit of painting here and there over the years, but always run into frustration with not having the skill I used to. I guess I'm just out of practice. And although sometimes I find myself confronted by the distinction of 'artist' vs. 'crafter', I know that my sewing and other dabbling is the right outlet for my creativity right now.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little about the creative people whose things I bought. Some of these items will be gifts, so I won't be too specific.

Leslie Geer, the planter of greenware design, creates lovely plantings in her partner's ceramic bowls. Succulents and some whimsical touches make these little gardens so special.

Karin Soderholm is a quilter with great taste in fabric (lots of linen) and unbelievably perfect stitching. She makes needlebooks and laptop covers, too.

Kathryn Riechert is a jewelry artist who creates unique pieces with text, bird motifs, and other elements. My favorite piece was a bird that hung from a cloud outline. She takes custom orders, too.

And thanks, Rashida, for the you-make-me-smile award. Her blog, and so many others, bring me many smiles!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Well, I'd say yesterday was a success. E and I got up super early to drop off the pup and make our way to Savannah, GA for Mutation Craft Fair. I had a half table and was lucky to share it with a friendly knitter from Savannah. She makes chain-link scarves from the softest wool. There was heavy foot traffic early in the day, and a lot of people stopped by my table. I was so relieved after I made my first sale! My tissue holders and fold-up cotton bags (more on those soon) were the best sellers. I even saw some fellow Jacksonville girls (I hope you like your bags!). And then the end of the day came. It was slow, so all the sellers did some shopping, which was probably my favorite part. I met some great crafters, enjoyed a little shop talk, and made several purchases. In the end, I made more than I sold, so that got E's approval, even though he knows it's not about the money. It was a fun experience.

After the show, we spent a few hours in Savannah. We even passed Paula Deen's restaurant by chance. Of course, it was booked, but I guess that just means we'll have to go back!

Friday, November 16, 2007


bags/ornaments/tissue holders sewn
stockings/pillows quilted
business cards printed
buttons covered

To do:
print stickers
final hand sewing
make sign

I think it's under control. I'm headed to Savannah for this weekend's mutation craft fair. If you're in the area, you should check it out. I know I'm probably going to spend way too much on all kinds of goodies (have you seen the vendor list?!), but I hope I can sell a few things to make up for it! See you there!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

mess in progress

Yikes--this photo looks pretty bad. Can't wait until my room is back to a tolerable level of mess. My creativity needs more order than this, but until Saturday, I'll keep on pushin'.

Monday, November 12, 2007

coming soon...

Considering this is my last full day to sew for next weekend's craft fair, I should be sitting in front of a different machine right now--not messing around with the design of a certain new etsy shop. Yep, I've jumped in--I know I want to sell my goods, and an online shop seems just my speed. So far, I've just set it up, but I'll be listing some items in the next few days. Exciting!

Selling is such a hard thing to explain to someone who doesn't craft. There are always questions about whether it's worth it, or how much the supplies cost. Some try to equate the value of a handmade item to something mass-produced. Others question the amount of time involved. But here's how I make sense of it: I love to create. And I love to make things for myself, but there are only so many paintings/pillows/tissue holders I can make for myself/tolerate in one house. So, I continue making, with the intention of sharing what I make. How can I find someone who will appreciate the care that has gone into something handmade? Yes, I can give it to certain friends and family who either like my style or love me (hi mom!). Or I can find someone who values a one-of-a-kind creation just like I do. This is the reason I love to shop on etsy!

I've been away from the blog lately only because I've been fully enjoying creating lots and lots of stuff. Photos of this stuff, though, have been hard to come by. With limited daylight hours and a camera on the fritz, I haven't been able to get the shots I want. But hopefully soon...After asking and researching and testing and pondering, I finally just turned my head and hit the 'submit order' button. And a new camera is on its way. I'd better get to work on more items to stock the shop!

Monday, November 5, 2007

the art of [almost] doing nothing

Finally--a restful weekend. And I actually got more 'work' done this weekend than I have in a long time. If I do too much of nothing on the weekend, I get stressed at the beginning of the week, which proves what I've been reading in eat, pray, love--that Americans don't know how to just do nothing. So some yard work, lots of sewing, a movie and an afternoon at the beach proved to be a perfect combination. We watched the yearly air show from my parents' house and then delivered this ball to our friends' one-year-old birthday boy at his party on the beach. I found the tutorial here. Super quick and fun to make.

And next weekend I get 3 days to do almost nothing!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

music for makin'

These are some little pockets for a new 'product' I've got up my sleeve. This weekend I'll be back to work on craft fair inventory. And for that, I think I'll need some good music. Some poppy stuff I've been enjoying lately: Chromeo, Of Montreal, and Silversun Pickups. I finally popped over to the myspace page of a local band, the Black Kids, who have been getting lots of coverage on a local blog, and recently some national coverage. It turns out that the lead singer and the drummer are guys I knew at church growing up. I love their sound--check 'em out!

Monday, October 29, 2007

wedding weekend

This was the weekend of my brother's wedding. We're back home and recovered from our weekend with the happy couple. My brother and new sister-in-law are now in Costa Rica after their beautiful wedding.
One of the things that I love so much when I think of our wedding is all of the touches that we added to make it 'us', and that's also what I loved most about this weekend as well. The venue was gorgeous--there was even a gator swimming through the background of a few of the bridal party photos! The decorations--carved white pumpkins--were perfect for this time of year. The hydrangeas and seeded eucalyptus (like on the boutonnières I made) were just right. And a very appropriate get-away vehicle for this bicycling couple.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

new faves

On my list of things to sew, I have a bunch of images in my mind of stockings, pillows, tissue holders made with fabric I don't have, colors I don't even have. So I ran in to Joann after work last week when they had a sale on fat quarters. I found a few fabrics to fill in those gaps in my stash. And I also found some redundant (more green!) fabrics that I needed.

I'm starting to feel the pressure of the craft fair, but in a way I didn't expect-- I'm still excited and motivated to do the designing + sewing, but the stress of all the other things I'm not doing is getting to me. I really don't have time for major crafting and cleaning/giving the pup enough attention/running errands. And I just found out yesterday (a very rainy Monday) that the craft fair will be held outside. I'm hoping for a cool, crisp, dry fall day!

I've been watching all the pillow-making going on at glitter goods. When I clicked over to link to a few pillow posts, I saw that she has a new display of all of them. The trick to that wrinkly quilty look is washing the pillow top before assembling the pillow. Great idea. I love her colors.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

free fabric

It made my day yesterday when I opened my email and found a message from Kristin at Sew, Mama, Sew. I won a yard of fabric in Free Fabric Friday. They have so many gorgeous prints (that would be a real splurge to buy!). It was hard to decide on one, but I finally chose this Loft 1800 print. Normally I'm drawn to cool colors, but since seeing brown paired with a rich magenta in a recent west elm catalog, I'm liking the combination. Here's a room with brown + magenta + purple. Nice, isn't it?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

the arrival of fall

The first wave of cooler air is finally here. The fall table is back, the windows are open. These are the days that make Florida's summer heat worth it.

Blogger says this is my 100th post, and I'm amazed. I can't believe I've come here a hundred times, but when I look back on all the creativity that's been inspired since I started blogging, I know it's true. This outlet has helped get my artistic juices flowing again. It's connected me to some wonderful, encouraging people who inspire me daily. Thank you all for reading and helping me to stay motivated to keep art + craft a priority in my life. I appreciate all of your supportive comments. It's great to be able to connect with you guys.

Well, I think I'll take advantage of this cool morning air, and go sit by an open window to sew these patchwork strips.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We got it!

Here's that pumpkin that was discovered growing in E's sister's shrubs. It must weigh 10 pounds! (My feet are there for perspective.) It's not that orange, so is it under ripe? I'll have to figure out if this is a decorating pumpkin or an eating pumpkin.

Monday, October 8, 2007

custom ordered cutting table

Though not normally a podcast listener, I enjoyed the craftsanity interview with Amanda Soule. It was nice to learn more about Soulemama, and I appreciated what she said about everyone being creative in some way. Even my E is quite creative (and fast, I must say!), especially with projects around the house. With my brief description of a top built onto my existing fabric shelves, he got to work on my new cutting table. He's rather pleased with what he calls the "rustic" outcome (well, we were using the same planks that have had 2 previous lives as bookshelves). I think it will definitely work for cutting fabric, and it fits nicely into the room. Now all I need is a giant cutting mat, right?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

thank you!

Here's my new inspiration board on the wall above my sewing machine. I bought 4 cork tiles and covered them with batting and my current favorite fabrics. The adhesive squares that came with the tiles do not work, though. I have to re-stick at least one of these to the wall everyday!

With natural light at a premium these days (it feels like 7:00 at night most of the day), it's been hard to take any good photos this week. Rain everyday has kept us indoors most of the time. Although a lot of work passed across my sewing table last weekend, the week was much less productive because my back was so sore. I decided, since I'm still so motivated to work on stuff for the craft fair, that this is the weekend we need to remedy the cutting-on-a-low-table issue. I looked into foldable cutting tables, like this one, because they're 36" high, but read that they can be flimsy. So, my great husband is in the garage working on a platform to go on top of the existing shelves that hold my fabric. With this plan, we can use materials we have, buy nothing, and avoid a sore back on Monday.
I've been thinking lately about how much I learned from blog reading when I really started to explore sewing and quilting. I love that people not only showed what they'd created, but also explained how they'd done it, no matter how simple, or even obvious to an experienced sewer. I picked up so many techniques, like pressing the edges back before flipping my coasters right-side-out (can't remember, but maybe from angry chicken). I hope that I, too, can provide some useful ideas to those who are just getting into the art of sewing. A big thank you to everyone who posts explanations and tutorials!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

living our dreams

I heard back from mutation craft fair, and I'm in! My name is on the list of vendors--how exciting! So far, when I've told a few people about it, I've gotten "Do you have enough stuff to sell?"/"You've only made 3 bags?!"/"Don' t you need inventory?" So, needless to say, I should probably be sewing right now.

Creative time is now exclusively on the weekend since I have nothing left these days when I get home from work. Now I see why so it's so easy to spend the evening in front of the TV--sometimes I don't even have enough energy to read when I get home. One night, we pulled out our wooden sudoku board for a quiet evening. It's a great gift idea for someone who likes sudoku (ours is from E's parents) because several people can work on a puzzle together.

We're struggling with a decision that made me just want to nap today--no sewing done. E knows that I live for following dreams, so when he asks for support in following one of his, it's hard to say no. But, oh how I want to! Then I remember how he's supported everyone of mine. Tattoos I can handle, but a motorcycle?

I'd better get back to that inventory!

Oh, and my grandmother liked her 'hot pad'--I had to call her back and tell her it was for her glasses :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

crossword case

A glasses case for my Meemaw's birthday. She loves crosswords.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

book report

*photo from alternacrafts
I've been enjoying lots of non-fiction from the library lately. Anytime I read or hear about a good book, I go to my library's website and request a hold. When the title arrives at the branch near me, they call. And they've been calling a lot!
I was scrolling through the craftsanity podcast archives and came across an interview with Jessica Vitkus, the author of AlternaCrafts. This book is divided up into clothing, home, and gift projects, all of which seem to be pretty quick endeavors. Even though it came from the library's teen section, it has lots of ideas, like 'pin-tastic cards' and 'mock smock,' that I might try.
*photos from simple sewing with a french twist
After I saw that Beth had found Simple Sewing with a French Twist at her library, I checked and was pleasantly surprised that mine had a copy, too (they seem to be a bit slow getting craft titles). I've been looking at this one before bed, and there is a lot to look at--tons of cute projects, with diagrams for everything! So far, some of my favorites are the Versailles Velvet Ottoman and the Bohemian Flip Flops. More than 250 pages!
*photo from omiyage
On a quick browse at the library, I picked up Omiyage: Handmade Gifts from Fabric in the Japanese Tradition. I love looking at these very cute [but extremely time consuming+and detail oriented] projects. The photos are nice and bright.

On the same trip, I found Sewing with Nancy 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew for Your Home. This book looks like it was published way before 2002, and I laughed when I realized each sewing project was divided into steps that take 10, 20 or 30 minutes, not that they could be finished in that amount of time. Who was I kidding--there's a quilt on the cover--that's a bunch of 30 minute steps! Anyhow, it's pretty traditional, but there's one project I've got my eye on: the On the Go Machine Mat. I'm always sliding my sewing machine around on the table, and I like the little pockets that hang down from this mat--a great place to stash little threads instead of reaching for the trash can while sewing.

I found so many recipes I want to try in Quick Fix Vegetarian, like 'potato "dosadillas"' and 'cream of pumpkin soup topped with curried pecans.' My only complaint is that there are no color photos--one of my requirements for buying a cookbook.

And in addition to Simple Sewing on my nightstand, I've been falling asleep to Thoreau. Somehow I made it through school without reading anything he wrote. And I got a few calls from the library at the end of the week--I think they've got some fiction waiting for me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

creating stock(ings)

Thanks for all the great feedback on my things to sell and the fall recipes! I'm really wishing I had grown my own winter squash...there's always next year, I guess.
These are more photos taken for the craft fair. (No, I didn't get so excited about the change of seasons that I fast-forwarded all the way to December!) I pulled these out of the box of Christmas decorations, where they have been since last January. It's funny how putting away something handmade and pulling it out much later can give you a whole new perspective. I was actually surprised by how well-made they are, considering I've done a lot more sewing (and learning) since I made them (and I'm still making lots of mistakes!). In reality, I'm probably just not being as critical because I've forgotten about any imperfections I was aware of when I first made them. But it's kind of nice to look at them with new eyes, the way you'd look at a craft made by someone other than yourself. I'm looking forward to making more of these.

Now I definitely need to do something more with brown+green.

I'm gonna try to catch Tim Gunn's Guide to Style tonight. (I might have to DVR it if I crash early like the rest of this week). I wonder if it's any good. I'm just so ready for Project Runway Season 4 to start!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

pillow, revised (and food)

This pillow really wasn’t finished when I photographed it the other day, but I needed to get a shot to send with my craft fair application. I un-did the quick hand sewing job, and added the quilting, binding, and envelope closure.And I finished 3 'grocery bags', to sell.

I’ve taken Jenn’s lead and finally updated my links list. I messed around with the html and made a few other fun changes to the blog as well.

Now, on to what’s really a food post. Need a desk drawer snack? I’ve got the best trail mix in mine right now. It has almonds, pecans, cashews (my favorite), sunflower seeds, tropical dried fruit mix, golden raisins, and chocolate chips. The great thing about trail mix is that you can mix in whatever you like. Other tasty additions: m&ms, craisins, dried apricots, banana chips. And I just discovered dried figs! Any other ideas?

We enjoyed the last of the garden over the weekend, eating one of 2 watermelons that grew. There may still be sweet potatoes, but I’m not holding my breath. That’s OK, though because when my grandmother visited recently, she brought, as always, bags and boxes of fresh, family grown food: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, pecans. Using a giant butternut squash from my aunt’s flower bed (did you know you could grow them in between shrubs? My sister-in-law just discovered a pumpkin growing in her yard!), I made what must be my favorite meal: roasted squash and peppers + baked goat cheese over wheat pasta. Unfortunately, it got eaten up before it could pose for any pictures. Next up, butternut squash soup. I love pureed soups in the winter. This cheddar soup with celery, carrots, and apples becomes a staple in our kitchen during cool weather.

Another post about cooler weather. Can you tell I'm ready for fall?